Winter Session schedule, plus some important news!


We have a great winter session planned with plenty of opportunities to stick to those New Year's resolutions!  Please see our winter schedule with pricing information here. There are a number of TBAs but we will keep that document up to date as decisions are made, so please check back if you are interested in a class that has some TBA info.


Additional Helpful Info:

  • Session enrollment begins at 10am on Tuesday November 13
  • Students can enroll by emailing, in person, or by calling 415-759-8123 
  • Make sure your payment method is up to date on your Mind Body account
  • Check with your teacher to see if you should level up in the winter
  • Make sure to let the front desk team know if you are approved to level up
  • Thursday Straps Conditioning class will NOT be session-enrollable
  • Tuesday Intro to Human Cartoon class will ONLY be session-enrollable


You will notice that a couple of beloved senior instructors are not on the winter schedule.


Veronica Blair is taking a leave of absence during the winter session to train and perform internationally. Good luck, and see you in the spring!


Catie Brier will be leading the Contortion Intensive in January, but after that, she will be preparing her family to move out of the Bay Area. We will always be grateful for how much Catie gave to this community, and she promises to be back from time to time (including hopefully leading future Contortion Intensives). We are enormously sad to see her go, but we wish her and her family all the very best, and we look forward to welcoming her back with open arms. See you down the road, Catie! 


Catie has built up a strong practice of serious contortion students at Circus Center, and I am happy to announce that we will continue to meet their training needs with the highest standards of excellence.


Serchmaa Byamba, the legendary Mongolian contortion performer and coach, will be rejoining the Circus Center faculty, starting in January! Serchmaa previously taught here for many years, so this marks something of a homecoming for her, and both she and we are delighted to be working together again. We are still in the process of figuring out Serchmaa's class schedule, so stay tuned and we will announce it as soon as we can.





2018 Winter Showcase Auditions on October 13

Circus Center wants YOU to audition for our annual all-school Winter Showcase, December 8 & 9! More info coming about theme and such (it'll be something holiday-related and family-friendly, as always), but for now:


Saturday, October 13
4:30-7:30 pm



November 3 - rehearsal (late afternoon-evening)
November 18 - rehearsal (late afternoon-evening)
November 25 - rehearsal (afternoon-evening)
December 2 - Tech rehearsal (afternoon-evening)
December 8 - Dress rehearsal (evening)
December 9 - Call 1p, Dress rehearsal, Dinner break, Call 5p, show 7:30p
December 10 - Call noon, show 2p, all-hands strike after show


Email with information about your act (acro, aerial, etc.) and any technical or rigging needs for the audition.


Auditions are open to everyone, and everyone is encouraged to give it a shot! 


Just sign up for a slot and show us what you've got! If you have an act, bring that; if you don't yet, bring as much as you have to show us. If you already have music, we want to hear it. If you have your costume or pieces of it, we'd love to see you perform in it! If you need equipment or rigging, let us know, we can usually provide it. If you can't make it to audition in person, you are invited to submit a video of your act (or act-in-development). Send it to


For questions, more information, or to sign up, email

I've often been asked for more advance notice about important events at Circus Center – the opening of class registration, auditions, shows, closures, etc. So, working with the Center's department heads, program directors, and administrators, I've compiled all of the key dates that I can think of into a single document. You can download it as a PDF by clicking on the title above (or the link below), and I've also pasted the information into the body of this blog post.

If you have questions or concerns, please get in touch with me, or send word through a member of the Student Services Team.


2018-19 Circus Center Key Dates



September 3

October 17 (daytime closure only)

November 22-23

December 8-9

December 24 – January 1

April 21

May 27

July 4



Adult Recreational Program

  Fall 2018 Winter 2019 Spring 2019 Summer 2019 Fall 2019
Priority Registration for Full Session Enrollment July 31, 2018 November 13, 2018 February 26, 2019 N/A July 23, 2019
Drop-In Registration Opens August 13, 2018 November 26, 2018 March 11, 2019 May 13, 2019 August 5, 2019
Session Begins September 4, 2018 January 2, 2019 March 25, 2019 June 10, 2019 TBD
Session Ends December 23, 2018 March 24, 2019 June 9, 2019 September 1, 2019


Clown Conservatory

  • Fall Session: September 11 - December 7, 2018
  • Winter Session: January 8 - March 31, 2019

Contortion Intensive

January 6 - February 1, 2019 (Showcase on 2/1) 


Youth Pre-Professional Program

  • Fall Session: August 27* – December 14
         *Rising Stars start September 4
  • Winter/Spring Session: January 7 – May 24
  • Program Auditions: May 28-30
  • Advanced Camp: June 10 – August 16

Youth After-School Classes

  • Fall Session: September 4 – December 14
  • Winter Session: January 7 – March 15 (Priority Registration 11/12, Open Reg 11/19)
  • Spring Session: March 18 – May 24 (Priority Registration 2/18, Open Reg 2/25)




Friday Night Flights

A new 21+ event featuring flying trapeze swings, beer & wine flights, performances and more

  • October 12
  • February 8
  • July 19

Fall Family Circus Fun

Bring the kids and explore the world of circus together

November 17


Summer Camp Open House

March 9


Youth Program Open House

May 5




Winter Showcase

  • Auditions: October 13, 2018
  • Rehearsals: November 3, November 18, November 25, December 2
  • Tech Rehearsal: December 7
  • Final Dress Rehearsal: December 8
  • Performances: December 8 at 7:30p, December 9 at 2p

Summer Showcase

  • Auditions: March 17
  • Rehearsals: April 7, June 2, June 9, June 15
  • Tech Rehearsal: June 16
  • Final Dress Rehearsal: June 20
  • Performances: June 21 & 22 at 7:30p

Cabaret (all shows at 8p, rehearsals on immediately preceding Thursday nights)

  • Let’s Misbehave: October 19-20
  • Booty Call: November 9-10
  • Parental Discretion Advised: January 25-26
  • All Shook Up: February 22-23
  • Ringmaster Disaster: March 22-23
  • Happy Ending: April 12-13

Clown Conservatory Fall Showcase

November 29-December 1


Clown Conservatory Spring Show

March 28-30 


SF Youth Circus Spring Show

May 3-11


Super Novas Spring Show

May 17-18


Rising Stars Recital

May 18



One-Day Camps

  • October 8 (Registration Opens 9/14)
  • November 12 (Registration Opens 9/14)
  • January 21 (Registration Opens 10/1)
  • February 18 (Registration Opens (10/1)

Winter Camp (Registration Opens 10/1)

  • December 26-28
  • January 2-4

Summer Camp (Registration Opens 12/10, Early Bird Discount Ends 1/31)

June 10 – August 23



Cole Valley Fair: September 30

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: October 5-7

Daylight Savings Time Ends: November 4

SantaCon: December 8

Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt: February 23

Daylight Savings Time Begins: March 10

420: April 20 (duh)

Bay to Breakers: May 19

SF Pride Weekend: June 28-30

Outside Lands: August 9-11

Burning Man: August 25 – September 2

Class Pack Sale Starts Monday, April 4/16

We're having a sale! Starting on Monday, April 16, stock up on 5- and 10-Packs and save: 


  Tier A Tier B Tier C
5-Pack $115 $105 $200 $180 $210 $190
10-Pack $220 $200 $350 $320 $350 $320

Like last year, we will not be offering session enrollment this summer, so this sale is your best opportunity to get the credits you need to continue your training over the summer. (We will not, however, be "buying back" unused credits at the end of the summer.)


Sale packs have the same expiration dates as usual (5-Packs = 3 months, 10-Packs = 6 months), and will not be eligible for extensions, refunds, or transfers.


Starts Monday Morning - On Sale through Sunday, April 22!

Spring 2018 Showcase: Call for Performers

This spring, Circus Center will produce a showcase featuring performances by our adult students. The showcase will be presented on Saturday, May 19 at 7:30 pm.


As in recent years, the showcase will be informal, but nicely produced: the space will have a full lighting and sound set-up, and performers are asked to put some effort into your costumes and makeup. A member of the Circus Center staff will serve as Emcee. We will design and print flyers, postcards, and programs, and we will do our usual promotional activities online and elsewhere.


Flying trapeze students will work with Mike Greenberg and the other flying instructors to put together the flying portion of the show. We will take 6-8 additional acts. Other students who are interested in performing in one of these slots should fill out this form (one form per act, not per performer). Our goal is to produce a well-balanced show (not too many performers on any single apparatus) with students who are ready to perform (based on what your Circus Center teachers tell us), and giving first priority to current Circus Center students who have not previously performed in a showcase here. So fill out this form as soon as possible, and no later than April 23.


Relevant dates and times for performers:

  • May 1: Performers must either submit a video of their act IN COSTUME or arrange a time to show it to Barry Kendall or Veronica Blair. Acts deemed unready for public performance at this time may be cut from the show.
  • May 13: Rehearsal. 5p Call, 6p Start
  • May 19: Tech Rehearsal and SHOW: 1p Call, 3p Tech Start. 5p Dinner Break, 7:30p Show Start


Questions? Email Barry at barry [AT] circuscenter [DOT] org. Want to apply? Fill out this form!

The State of the Clown | By Sara Moore



I am a clown.

I’ve shared the same trailer, the same dressing room, the same midway, with all manner of people who enhance the idiocy and paradox of their own bumbling humanity by turning themselves inside out and presenting themselves to an audience. I have performed with everyone from Carol Channing to “Freckles.” I have been on the bill with every type of performer from opera singers, stand-ups, storytellers, jazz singers, “bubbleologists”, psychics and eccentric dancers. I’ve also played Shakespeare’s clowns and stood in a circus ring and brought an audience of 10,000 to screams of laughter by doing nearly nothing. Hell, I’ve made people laugh on the damn A Train on the way to a gig in full clown geish. You learn early on with a career in show business that there’s a whole lot of education and empathy that grow as much from a junkyard as from Lincoln Center.  Be versatile. Be ready for any kind of job, anywhere, anytime, with all manner of misfit entertainers. All are welcome. Except magicians: they take up too much space in the dressing room and smell like Aqua Velva. Joking. But serious. 


Historically, most clowns have been men. As a woman I have had to work very, very hard to be seen as a funny being while also not being a particularly “pretty” woman, which seems to be the golden combination as defined by men: she’s funny AND a real looker! I never wanted to be pretty. Being genderqueer I’ve always been happy with my cute factor, riding the misfit streetcar of desire between the genders. Even though I’m confident that I’m funny, insightful, and dare I say innovative, when I approached The Big Apple Circus, I was told flat-out that they would never hire a woman clown. That I didn’t even make the first cut because, y’know, I simply wasn’t man enough. Truth is, they had hired  women clowns in the past – just coupled with men who were their husbands and partners. But this is what I was emphatically told: no women clowns.


And now, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages: the newest addition to the #MeToo bunker is, heartbreakingly, a beloved Big Apple Circus clown. It is devastating and utterly unsurprising. These guys are absolutely everywhere, beneath and on top of every rock in every culture: toxic masculinity. Only this time, Don Draper is wearing a freaking clown nose and a bad frock. Insert multiple expletives! And just when I was really amping up about clowns not being scary…


For a long time, I haven’t known quite what to say about the fear of, and continuing sarcastic commentary about, and horror-movie imagery of clowns. Perhaps, I thought, it’s the word itself that no one likes since it’s so fully associated with Ronald McDonald and all manner of overly painted, mask-ish creatures that made little Emily cry her eyes out at the county fair. Maybe it’s the bad singing – or dinosaurs themselves – but I remember flinching when I first saw Barney. I also flinched and was repelled by all manner of costumed characters as a child.


But now I’m wondering if perhaps, just maybe, the very male-ness of clowning has been one of the main reasons why images of scary clowns have had such power in our culture.


Today, finally, we are at the birth of a new era. There is a vital new American Clowning emerging from the demise of Ringling Bros. and this historically mega-male art form, and it is fiercely female and based on the concept of the poet-in-action: more Lucy than Bozo. More Annie Fratellini, Diane Wasnak, Mooky Cornish. Don’t recognize these names? Google them. Fine, funny women all, and all cousins to Mr. Bean, Lee Evans, George Carl. Keep Googling! In many ways, the Clown transcends gender and bounces right into the realm of wonder and magical realism personified, a powerhouse prankster embodying all the mischief, mayhem and freedom of a human cartoon.


So, maybe now that our industry, like so many others, is facing its demons and becoming more inclusive and equitable, the image of clowns in the broader culture will change, too. I for one am working to help everyone see and absorb this new vision of what clowning is and can be: humanity exposed for all of our collective foolishness. It’s the fearless exposure and performance of being really human, in all its paradoxes. We are all beautiful, we are all ugly. We are all clumsy, we are all graceful. In many types of tribes throughout history, clowns are part of the healing community. When despair is crushing, kindness and humor become as vital as air. We bring medicine through laughter, joviality, silliness, and pure play. Yes, I’m just high-falutin enough to believe that clowns are part of the world’s solution, not its problem.


In this mixed-up culture, where every other person is considered a “reality star,” where gun orthodoxy outshines arts advocacy, and where even our most beloved cultural icons fall hard from grace, it is a miracle to find refuge in any kind of innocence. But a great clown can get us there, with the highest language of humor and pathos. Who better than the clown to bring us all together with what we already have, who can render the “everything all at once” of being human in high relief?


Send in the clowns? Don’t bother. They are in us all.



Sara Moore is a clown, actor, playwright, filmmaker, deviser & Director of The Clown Conservatory.

Winter 2017 Giving Drive Success!

Thank you.
Your generosity this winter has raised $11,895 for Circus Center's programs. 

That means $11,895 for access to incredible circus training at great value, amazing shows with affordable tickets, and our ability to serve you better with building and equipment upgrades, community outreach, and other great circus programs.  

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for helping us maintain the high quality and accessibility of the circus programs you love. 

We can't wait to create even more amazing circus with you in the new year. Please keep an eye on our newsletter and blog for the latest news on how your support makes a real difference for Circus Center, and for all the exciting circus programming coming up.

Thank you so much.

Onwards and Upwards, 

Barry Kendall
Executive Director, Circus Center

and all the staff, faculty, and students of Circus Center.

P.S. It's never too late to support Circus Center's programs! You can give whenever you like through this link:

Some thoughts on 'RIDICULOSITY' | Clown Conservatory




the 1st semester showcase Circus Center | ClownCon Class of 2018


Clown Conservatory students pass on hats during a sketch in 'Ridiculosity' | Circus Center | 2017 

Dreams on the nature of clowns and joy


I’ve had the most wonderful weekend, watching and laughing and dancing and playing with clowns. To be specific, the Circus Center’s Clown Conservatory, Class of 2018, performing in their first Semester Showcase entitled Ridiculosity. It was the culmination of 10 weeks of rigorous training in Physical Comedy, Puppetry, Mask, Mime, Music, Circus Skills, Character Development and Performance Technique for the circus ring, the street, the stage & the screen. Our small but mighty class of 7 worked tirelessly to transform themselves into Human Cartoons.


In performance this past weekend their hard work, talent & tenacity were evident in every aspect of their craft.

From the waves of laughter & applause that washed over everyone in the theatre it was apparent that this core group of fledgling funsters take their silliness very seriously. It was also a moment that cemented certainty of purpose, a defining moment of assurance that the decision to put the rest of their lives on hold and take up the study of clowning was exactly the right choice, at the right time and in the right place.


Clown Conservatory student performing in Ridiculosity | Circus Center | 2017


For those of us who had the privilege of working with this gifted young group, it was a saturation of satisfaction to see them on stage, fully present, connected to each other, the audience and every moment with skill & authenticity. It was also a testament to the show, directed with a keen eye by Doyle Ott, the incredible performance faculty and the program itself, under the watchful, loving guidance of the amazingly gifted Sara Moore.


This was just the end of the first semester. There’s more to come, and another example of their work will be presented this coming spring. For now, however, this tiny band of fierce, funny & necessary artists takes a brief respite from the classroom and hopefully will have time to process all that has happened to them, and within them, over the past few months.


Clown Conservatory student smiles at the audience in 'Ridiculosity' | Circus Center | 2017 

Personally, I felt a wonderful, dreamlike sense of deja vu, harkening back to my days as the director of another clown training program, long ago and far, far away. It reminded me of how important this work is; how consuming it can be and how much pure joy it brings. Of all the lessons that have been shared here, one of the most profound is the realization that humor has a powerful, transformative effect. An uninhibited belly laugh can scrub the soul clean of despair and lift one’s spirit up & out and into the light of optimism & hope. To experience it is exquisite; to create it is extraordinary. And so - to the students, “The Magnificent 7 of Slapstick”, a genuine Congratulations & Bravo! Thank you for having the courage to let go of what you thought this program was going to be, and for embracing what it is.


I hope that your break offers you some much needed rest and time for you to renew your commitment and enthusiasm for the ancient and honorable art of clowning.


Remember: We are students of life some we are students for life; take deep, cleansing breaths; appreciate this magical time in your lives and enjoy it. Your time as a caterpillar has expired. your wings are ready. Take the next leap of faith - soar and spread joy!


Peace & light,

Steve Smith


"We invent nothing, truly. We borrow and re-create.
We uncover and discover.
All has been given, as the mystics say. We have only to open our eyes and hearts, to become one with that which is.”


~ Henry Miller



Clown Conservatory Class of 2018


Jamella Cross

Sarah Harris

Anne Herholdt

Kara Rivas

Hanna Stangebye

Roxanne Sticks

Keenan Woodson


Click here for more information about the Clown Conservatory.


The Clown Conservatory class of 2017-2018  poses for a picture after their showcase | Ridiculosity | Circus Center 


Only $100 to reach 2017 Winter Giving Drive Goal!

As of right now, your donations to Circus Center's Winter 2017 Giving Drive total $4,900. Amazing!

That's only $100 to go to unlock the full $5,000 match.

Will you give to reach the full match right now, and raise $10,000 for Circus Center this winter?

Will you give a bit more, and help us reach a stretch goal of $11,000 - only $1,000 more - to support the high-quality, accessible circus you love?

Your gift means so much: Access to incredible circus training at great value. Amazing shows with affordable tickets. Serving you better with building and equipment upgrades, community outreach, and other great circus programs.  

But most of all - your gift means you are a crucial partner in our mission to bring the joy of circus to all. Everything we do is possible because of you. 

Please show your support of Circus Center this winter by helping us raise $11,000 for the high quality and accessible circus programming you love.


Thank you so much for showing your love and supporting our programs. 


Speaking of the high-quality, accessible circus you love - see you at this year's student showcase, Winter of Love, this weekend! Get your tickets here. Then bring more great circus like Winter of Love to your community with a gift today. Thank you!


In Spring 2017, Circus Center ran BUILDING UP, a campaign to raise funds for needed building fixes and equipment purchases to create a new community series: $5 Fridays. This is a regular series of fun, low-barrier events where our greater community can try a variety of circus arts easily and see our students perform (especially on San Francisco's only flying trapeze)!


Together, we raised $25,846 for vital building repairs and improvements to start this new community event series. A thousand thank yous to all our $5 Friday founders! 


We launched the first official $5 Friday event on October 13th, 2017, to a sell-out crowd. Attendees enjoyed flying trapeze swings, an aerial arts intro, juggling and circus ground skills, Clown Conservatory entertainers, and a flying trapeze show by the Circus Center Flyers.


The next $5 Friday is scheduled for January 19, 2018 - see you there! 


Here’s how your contributions to BUILDING UP helped launch $5 Fridays and made Circus Center better for every student and $5 Friday visitor:


 Building Up Total Raised: $25,846 

  • $7385 - The new carpet-bonded foam mats for the Main Gym, replacing the old worn-out mats with new safe and stylish grey ones
  • $2845 - Dimmers and 1500 feet of lighting cable to install permanent performance lighting   in the Main Gym (see it in action at Winter of Love on Dec 9 and 10) to make all performances in the Main Gym cheaper and easier to produce
  • $260 - Repairs to the leak in the roof over the men’s restroom (stay dry!)
  • $4837 - New Crash pads, new foam inserts for other crash mats and a new trampoline throw mat, so you can land in safety
  • $720 - New flooring for the Student Lounge, making the space safer and more comfortable for all our students and visitors
  • $850 - Installation of donated brand-new security cameras to protect our students and $5 Friday visitors
  • $820 - New dressing compartments for the upstairs hallway, to make it easier to change
  • $215 - New pulling rope for the Flying Trapeze

Total: $17,932

Remaining: $7,914


We have a few more projects in the works to make your Circus Center experience even better: lobby improvements, adding electricity upstairs, hot water heaters in the sinks, new paint, expanded internet networks for teachers and students, and not to mention, a reserve fund for tackling future leaks as they arise this winter. Keep an eye on the blog and newsletter for updates!


 Thank you for all you make possible - and see you at $5 Friday in January


P.S. Did you give to BUILDING UP? Thank you! Did you get your swag yet (or you’re not sure)? Contact Sarah at to arrange a pickup. 


Support Circus Center’s Annual Winter Giving Drive by donating here - all donations made this December will be matched up to $5000!


See the impact of SHOW LOVE, the Winter 2016 campaign, here. 


Here are some words on why Circus Center runs fundraising campaigns like SHOW LOVE and BUILDING UP.


 Circus Center’s mission is to spread the joy of circus through performance, training, and community outreach. Our total budget for this fiscal year (2018) is $1.75 million dollars. That includes instructors, administration, and staff for the dozens of classes a week we offer, professional-track and recreational youth programs, the professional training program Clown Conservatory, a production season with 12+ shows a year, our adaptive circus outreach program, and maintenance and repair costs for our building and equipment.

 Most of the revenue to cover these costs – about 85%, in fact – comes from tuition for classes, group events, and summer camps. So why bother raising money at all?


 The basic answer is, like any non-profit, we run fundraising campaigns so we can better serve our community and pursue our mission. More specifically, we raise funds to keep producing the high-quality, accessible circus that you love. Fundraising helps us make major investments in our operation and to do what makes us a non-profit center for the circus arts - more than just another gym.

 Fundraising efforts, like our annual Winter Giving Drive, enable us to do important things that don’t cover their own costs, like community productions, outreach programs, and more. Fundraising for these programs ensures that the high-quality circus that we’re known for remains accessible to all. Your support is crucial to helping us maintain the quality and accessibility of the programs you love.

 When it comes to investments, we look at two kinds: new and deferred. For example, if we hadn’t run a capital campaign like the New Net and Equipment campaign, we still would have replaced the flying trapeze net. After all, it was time for it to be replaced. But without your support, we might not have been able to do everything else for months, maybe years, while we saved up: upgrade all the toilets, or purchase new stilts, or replace the lights in the lobby, or make other vital purchases and repairs. What’s more, our facility is almost 100 years old, and has had many of its maintenance and repair needs deferred over the years. Your support gives us the freedom and flexibility to begin to catch up on 20 years of much-needed repairs, purchase more equipment, and fix more things, faster, to give you a better circus training experience.

 With your donations, partnership, and advocacy, we can bring the same professional quality shows, training, and outreach to the community we have loved and served for over 30 years. Thank you for your support, past and present, and for being part of the Circus Center family.

 Support Circus Center’s Annual Winter Giving Drive by donating here - all donations made this December will be matched up to $5000!