Learn aerial, trapeze, wire-walking and trampoline skills at Seattle’s School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts.

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I WAS TANGLED up in the trapeze, so deeply bound in the ropes and steel rod that if Coach Faye had not been there, I might still be stuck.

Fine, I’m exaggerating. I could have gotten out on my own. I think.

I was at the Intro to Circus class at SANCA, the School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts, in Seattle. I have done enough circus classes to know that it would be super fun, and it would bring me to my physical edge. I was correct on both counts.

The School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts


Most classes at SANCA run as a session for several weeks, but this one is a drop-in, which allows people to try several things and see what they like.

We started on aerial silks. I remembered and liked climbing from a previous silks class, though I struggled with the clothespin, which required me to knot the silks around my foot, let go with one hand and hang to the side. I was close to the ground, and it still was nerve-wracking. Thank goodness for supportive coaches.

Next: the static trapeze. Getting up was straightforward and fun, especially compared to the flying trapeze. We worked on a gazelle, hooking one knee around the ropes and leaning back to let go. Sitting directly on a steel rod isn’t the most comfortable sensation, but it was doable and looked pretty.

The flying gazelle, however, was a different story. When Faye demonstrated, hooking her knee, climbing up the rope and twisting 180 degrees into an elegant position, it looked so easy. She said it might feel like you are being squeezed, because you are.

When it was my turn, I could get most of the way up, but for some reason — as Faye instructed me for the last quarter-turn — my body would not obey. My arms were burning from trying to keep myself upright. I gave it two tries, and my arms cried for mercy. I had to come down. I watched as classmate Lindsay executed it; determination burned in my belly, though my arms protested. My next effort would have to wait.

We moved to wire-walking. First, we practiced standing on the wire, positioned a couple of feet off the ground, and jumped off. I kept wanting to look down, while Faye cued us to engage our bellies and keep our eyes up.

Then, Faye gave us some balance support to walk across. I watched two classmates do it without falling off, and hoped I wouldn’t be the only one to fall. My stomach was full of nerves.

During my turn, Faye reminded me to look straight ahead and feel the wire beneath my feet, rather than look at it, and told me one foot is more balanced than two.

I moved slowly, and felt more balanced midway than I’d expected. When I made it without falling, I sighed with relief. We did it one time backward, which was less scary than forward.

Lastly, we went to the trampoline. I’ve done enough jumping that the first tricks felt straightforward, starting with tucks and pikes and a seated drop. Next, Faye taught us the steps to a twisted seat-drop, dropping onto our butts, legs straight, and bouncing high and twisting 180 degrees to do a seat drop on the other side. We practiced doing a seat drop to twist and stand before the full trick. I managed to do it once with bent legs.

We also worked on dropping onto our backs and popping back up to stand.

By the end of 90 minutes, I was exhausted and exhilarated. Now, I want to go all in on a session. Will it be trapeze or wire-walking? I’ll let you know.