Pay-What-You-Can Seats available at BIZARRE!

Wow. This morning, YOU, our very generous community, helped us beat our $20,000 stretch goal for our New Net and Equipment Campaign.

Not only that, you helped us beat it by a lot: our current number is $22,083 and still going! THANK YOU!

Our special screening of "BIZARRE: A CIRCUS STORY" is tomorrow night - and in celebration of your incredible support, all remaining seats at the screening are now Pay-What-You-Can. Suggested donation is $25, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Bring your friends and join us at this great community celebration. All proceeds will still support our New Net & Equipment Campaign. And now we're wondering...can we beat $25,000...?

PWYC seats are first-come, first-serve at the box office.

Circus Center's special screening of

June 16, 2016
Box office opens 7:00pm, show at 7:30 pm

Clay Theater
2261 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Of course, online donations are still open and still support the campaign if you want to reserve a seat in advance.

Thank you and see you at the show!

Flying Trapeze Net Campaign Update: SURPRISE BONUS PERK!

Your support for the New Flying Trapeze Net campaign has been incredible. Thanks to your generous online and offline donations, you’ve helped us raise over $13,000 for our new net in record time! You made it possible for Circus Center to keep offering the magic of flying trapeze to our community: thank you.

Now we’re sharing our next goal and an exciting announcement:

Inspired by your support, we’ve set a new goal of $15,000 to help replace and maintain our other vital circus equipment.

Donations towards this new goal will help us re-stuff crash pads, purchase new aerial hoops, make needed upgrades, and more to keep our training spaces as clean and safe as possible for our beloved students.

And we’re excited to announce a NEW SUPER SURPRISE BONUS PERK to anyone who donates at least $25*: a reserved seat at a special screening of BIZARRE: A CIRCUS STORY at the Clay Theater on June 16.

BIZARRE: A CIRCUS STORY is a unique documentary that follows the fascinating life story of Master Lu Yi, Circus Center’s Artistic Director Emeritus, and features lovely performances by Eve Feldman, Haley Viloria, Ron and Or Oppenheimer, Mikayla Dinsdale, and many more of our friends and colleagues at Circus Center.

*If you donated $25 or more before the perk was announced, thank you! We’ve already reserved your seat. Since seating is limited, please RSVP by emailing Sarah here.

If you haven’t yet given, here’s your chance to support Circus Center AND see a unique documentary, featuring many of your circus friends and colleagues!

Click here to reserve your seat with a donation.

We are thrilled to offer this screening as a celebration of Master Lu Yi and our generous community. You have made it possible for us to replace and maintain our unique flying trapeze net and other essential equipment for our programs. Thank you to our amazing Circus Center family!

Here are the event details:
Circus Center’s special screening of

June 16, 2016
Priority Entry at 7:00pm, General Entry at 7:15, show at 7:30 pm
Clay Theater
2261 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Event Co-Chairs
Leo Harris  |  Ayla Agarwal  |  Ben Lee

Reserve your seat by donating here:

Wondering what your perks are? Here they are, updated:

A specially-designed thank you card from the Circus Center Flyers, and one general entry seat at the BIZARRE screening on June 16th at the Clay Theater.

A specially-designed thank you card from the Circus Center Flyers, a personal shout-out in the Circus Center Newsletter, and one general entry seat at the BIZARRE screening on June 16th at the Clay Theater.

A specially-designed thank you card from the Circus Center Flyers, personal shout-out in the Circus Center Newsletter, your own piece of the old Flying Net, and one priority entry seat at the BIZARRE screening on June 16th at the Clay Theater.

A specially-designed thank you card from the Circus Center Flyers, personal shout-out in the Circus Center Newsletter, a special mention on our website, your own piece of the old Flying Net! and FOUR priority entry seats at the BIZARRE screening on June 16th at the Clay Theater.

A specially-designed thank you card from the Circus Center Flyers, personal shout-out in the Circus Center Newsletter, a special mention on our website, a Circus Center travel mug, your own piece of the old Flying Net, and EIGHT priority entry seats at the BIZARRE screening on June 16th at the Clay Theater.

A specially-designed thank you card from the Circus Center Flyers, personal shout-out in the Circus Center Newsletter, a special mention on our website, a Circus Center travel mug, your own piece of the old Flying Net, two Flying Trapeze class credits, and TEN priority entry seats at the BIZARRE screening on June 16th at the Clay Theater.


Did you donate before the perk was announced? Thank you! We’ve already reserved your seat. Please RSVP by emailing Sarah here.

Haven’t reserved your seat yet, or want to reserve more? Donate here to do so:

Any questions? Contact Sarah Bruhns, Grants & Development Associate

Please help us replace and maintain more circus equipment - and fill the Clay Theater! Share our campaign: Thank you for your support!

Please note that while The Clay is a good-sized theater, we are hoping to fill every seat. We will do our best to accommodate all our amazing community donors, but we appreciate your understanding and prompt RSVPs to make sure as many of you as possible will be able to attend. Thank you!

Help Us Get a New Flying Trapeze Net!

On May 7th, we launched a $10,000 fundraising campaign for a new flying trapeze net!

Why now?
Thousands of people of all ages have flown on our trapeze, the only permanent one in San Francisco. This rig has been with us since the beginning and has shown a generation of people the joys of a quintessential circus art. You can even see the BATKID, Miles Scott, learning to fly on our trapeze in the recently released documentary Batkid Begins!

But like all equipment, nets need to be replaced eventually. Now the time has come for the current net to retire in glory, and a new net to be installed for the next cohort of adventurous flyers. And we need your support!

Why $10,000?
$10,000 will replace our flying trapeze net (a very specialized piece of equipment), cover the cost of installation, and pay for its maintenance and repair for two years. Any amount raised past that goal goes to further years of maintenance.

Why give?
A new net is essential for Circus Center's future. We can't have flying classes, parties, or shows without an up-to-date net. Without it, we'd be missing a vital part of our identity as a historic American circus hub.

With your donation today, you become a tangible part of Circus Center's future. Not only that, you can take a piece of the past home with you!

When you make a donation of $100 or more, you can take home a piece of the old net: your own symbol of the wonder our net has made possible.

Our aim is to have the new net installed by this August, ready to wow our community for the Fall Session and the American Circus Educators Conference, which we are hosting in October.

By supporting our new net and guaranteed maintenance for the next few years, you're helping Circus Center continue to share the magic of circus with thousands of children, youth and adults for years to come.

Please join our campaign today. Thank you!

New Dance Class Pricing, Plus Try One for Free!

Does that beautiful spring weather make you so happy you could just DANCE? Come to Circus Center and get moving - for less!

Starting March 28th, Dance classes at Circus Center are now only $15 a class. You can still use your General Class Pack credits if you choose, but for even more savings you can purchase single $15 class credits for all dance classes after March 28.

Ballet Basics with Svetlana Scherba

Beginning Contemporary Dance with Timothy Rubel

But that's not all! For the first week of our Spring Session, March 28 - April 3, all the spots in Ballet Basics and Beginning Contemporary Dance are FREE. Try one out and see how dance can improve your grace, balance, transitions, and more!

We're also offering free spots in a new General Level conditioning class next week:

Acro Conditioning with Jiggidy Jives

45 minutes of conditioning, 30 minutes of stretching, and 15 minutes of rolling out to up your acrobatics game!

To claim your free spot (one per person) in one of these classes, please email with your name and the name and date of class you would like to attend.

Make sure you have created a MindBody student account: contact if you need assistance with that.

Spring 2016 Showcase: Call for Performers

This spring, Circus Center will produce a showcase featuring performances by our adult students. The showcases will be presented:
  • Saturday, May 7, 7:30 pm
  • Sunday, May 8, 3:00 pm
We envision something 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. We will NOT take reservations in advance, and it will be $10 per person at the door.

Flying trapeze students will work with Jennings 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). So fill out this form as soon as possible, and no later than March 18.

Relevant dates and times for performers:
  • March 18: Performer Applications DUE
  • March 21: Cast Notified
  • April 10-16: Performers must either submit a video of their act IN COSTUME or arrange a time to show it to Barry. Acts deemed unready for public performance at this time may be cut from the show.
  • May 1: Tech/Dress Rehearsal. 5p Call, 6p Start
  • May 7: SHOW. 5p Call, 7:30p Start
  • May 8: SHOW. 1p Call, 3p Show
Questions? Email Barry at Want to apply? Fill out this form!

Priority Registration for Spring 2016 Session Starts Monday

We are excited to announce the opening of Spring 2016 Session Enrollment on Monday! Classes will open for Full Session Enrollment on Monday, February 29 at noon.

Spring Session runs from Monday, March 28 through Sunday, June 5, 2016. Most classes meet 10 weeks, except a few Fri/Sat/Sun classes that meet less in order to accommodate spring performances.


  General Session
Advanced Session
Premium Session
10 weeks $180 $280 $300
9 weeks $162 N/A $270
8 weeks N/A $224 N/A
7 weeks $126 N/A N/A

Class space is limited! To ensure that students receive only the best instruction, we keep classes small and intimate. Session enrollment guarantees your place in class for all weeks. For each enrollment you purchase, you are eligible for one make-up class that you can use for any reason at any point during the term.

Drop-in enrollment for spring session opens March 11, 2016, and can be purchased as a single class, a 5-class pack or a 10-class pack. Please remember that space is not guaranteed in every week should you choose drop-in enrollment.

Spring 2016 Weekly Schedule Acro
Spring 2016 Weekly Schedule Aerial

To download a PDF of the above schedule, click here. To view the full schedule online, you can also visit the Schedule page on our website or log-in to our MindBody Online registration platform.

A few notes for you:
  • If you need a prerequisite, make sure to get this ON YOUR ACCOUNT prior to tomorrow! If you don't have a prereq, we can't hold a spot for you.
  • If you call/email/come in prior to noon on Monday, we will not be able to take your request. If you email prior to noon, that email will go to the bottom of our list after we address the people who register after noon. It's only fair!
  • Make sure the payment method on your account is updated. If the payment doesn't go through, we will notify you, but we may not be able to hold the spot for you.
  • Session enrollment is FINAL SALE. No changing classes, no sharing with another person, and there is ONE MAKE-UP per session. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis and ONLY with a documented medical issue.
  • You can sign up for spring classes using Class Packs starting Friday, March 11.
  • The Student Services Team will be very busy with session enrollments on Monday, so they will be unable to handle most other requests. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
On Monday, February 29 at noon,
Call 415-759-8123 or send an e-mail to to enroll!

Announcing Our New Loyalty Rewards Program

Circus Center is excited to welcome 2016 with the launch of our brand new Loyalty Rewards Program, run on the Perkville platform.

Starting this year, you can earn rewards points for attending classes and workshops, hosting a party, posting a training video or photo on Facebook, and more. Rewards points are redeemable for free classes!


Check out the many fun (and easy) ways to earn rewards points:
  • Join Rewards Program - 50 points
  • Attend class - 10 points
  • Refer a Friend (purchase of at least one class required) - 100 points
  • Host a Party - 250 points
  • Attend a Workshop - 50 points
  • Share photo/video on Facebook (use #circuscenter, max 1 post/day) - 7 points
Redeeming your rewards points is easy! Simply check you rewards points balance and choose which type of class you would like to redeem your points for:
  • General Class = 250 points
  • Advanced Class = 400 points
  • Premium Class = 500 points

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I join the Rewards Program?

Go online to Click “Join +50 points”. Perkville (our rewards program hosting site) will ask you for the e-mail and password you use on your Circus Center account so that it can link your MindBody account to the rewards program.

2. What can I get with my rewards points? How do I redeem my rewards points?

You can earn FREE CLASSES with rewards points.  A General class costs 250 points, an Advanced class, 400 points and a Premium class, 500 points. 

To redeem points, go to Log in. At the top of the page, there is a box with a star in an orange circle next to it.  The box is titled “Redeeming Perks." Select the reward you want by clicking on the grey plus sign to the left of the desired perk.  It will add the perk to your cart.  The class will be added automatically to your Circus Center MBO account when you complete your transaction.

3.       How do I earn points?

Points are awarded through the following:
  • Join Rewards Program - 50 points
  • Attend class - 10 points
  • Refer a Friend (purchase of at least one class required) - 100 points
  • Host a Party - 250 points
  • Attend a Workshop - 50 points
  • Share photo/video on Facebook (use #circuscenter, max 1 post/day) - 7 points
4.       I already signed in for my class today, but I don’t see my points yet. Why not?

Our rewards program updates every night at the end of the day. You will see your rewards points in your Pekville Rewards account the following morning.   

5.       I referred a friend, but I don’t see the points in my account.  Why not?

Referrals do not earn points until they are complete. Complete referrals mean that your friends must purchase a class before you earn points for the referral.

6.       I am having trouble referring a friend.  How do I do it?

Go online to Log in. Under the “Earning Points” box, marked with a blue piggy bank in the upper left corner, there is a link that says “refer a friend.” Click on the link. It will take you to a page where you can enter your friend’s contact information and insert a note if you choose. It also gives you the option to share via FaceBook or Twitter. Hit “Send,” the green button at the bottom of the page, to make sure your referrals are sent.

SF Youth Circus, a Gold Medal, and Beyond: Maya Kesselman's Circus Possible Story


For over 20 years, Circus Center's Youth Program has offered young people the unique chance to train circus arts at a recreational or pre-professional level.

Today our Youth Program serves over 400 youth, giving youth ages 8-18 over 1000 hours in top-quality circus instruction a year. Circus Center's Youth Program includes Summer Circus Day Camp, new recreational classes Circus Playground and Youth Parkour, and pre-professional training in Rising Stars and San Francisco Youth Circus. These programs have sent young people on to prestigious circus schools and performing troupes around the world. Maya Kesselman was one such young student.

Maya started training at Circus Center when she was 10 years old, and performed with the San Francisco Youth Circus for the next eight years. She then went on to study hoop diving for three years at L'Ecole Superieure des Arts du Cirque in Brussels, Belgium. After graduation, she toured Europe for three years as part of a hoop diving trio, Trio Anneaux, with Ian Vasquez of Spain and Michael Hottier of France. In 2013, they performed their hoop diving act at the 34th Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris, the internationally prestigious circus arts festival. There they won a coveted gold medal and audience choice award.

Maya has returned to Circus Center throughout the years, as an instructor and Artist-in-Residence with Trio Anneaux and acrobatic troupe, Back Pocket. Where has the circus led her now? She updated us recently:


"Circus Center is very special to me. It provided me with an amazing community of teachers and friends who led me on my path to becoming a professional circus artist.

This year, I'm in Montreal working on the new Cirque du Soleil show, Luzia - doing hoop diving and pole and a million other things. I've been reunited with my friends from Youth Circus and Back Pocket: Marta Henderson, Devin Henderson, and Dom Cruz. We're all in the show together!

Circus gave me the tools to build a lifestyle where I get to discover other cultures, do what I love, and learn more about myself and the world than I thought possible."


Circus Center's youth programs give young people opportunities to discover their own strength, learn a unique art form and artistic self-expression, and build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Your support means more young people can have the opportunity to succeed like Maya. With your donations, we can offer more financial aid and program support, giving more youth access to top-quality circus instruction and free shows in their community. Help us bring the joy of circus to all so any talented young person can access all the joy circus has to offer.

Last year, we raised $10,000 for our youth programs - help us match and beat that benchmark with your donation today! You can also support us while you shop using Amazon Smile. And after you've done that, watch Trio Anneaux's award-winning act - wow!

Responding to your Requests: Outcomes of the October 2015 Student Survey

In October, we sent out a Student Survey to see what you were looking for as Circus Center students, and how we could continue making your training experience better. Read More

Circus Healing: Giovanna Piumarta’s Road to Recovery

Written by Phoenix Paz, Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Giovanna Piumarta celebrates her one year anniversary with Circus Center this November. Coming three times a week, she trains Aerial Hoop with Caroline and Static Trapeze with Elena.  

Early one Wednesday morning, she walked into my office, her big dark eyes bright, a smile playing along her pink lips.  Joy radiated from her as she shook my hand and took a seat.  

“Thank you for coming to see me,” I said.

“It’s my pleasure.  I’m so thrilled to share my story; Circus Center has changed my life.”


At 27 years old, Giovanna Piumarta found herself in the emergency room, the result of an inexplicable seizure that almost killed her. On the surface, she seemed healthy; a long time rock and tree climber, Giovanna had always been strong — physically at least. But she nonetheless suffered from bouts of self-doubt, anxiety, and despair, hating herself and fearing the world around her.

When she woke from the seizure in the hospital, the doctors told her what they had found: she was born with a blood vessel malformation in her brain and there was extra blood feeding the part of the cerebral cortex that controls fear, anxiety, doom, and despair. The result was frequent internal brain seizures which would eventually lead to death through seizure or stroke.  She had a 2% chance of survival if she allowed the seizures to continue.

The doctors could fix it with surgery, they told her, but the process was not without risks.  Giovanna decided to go for it.  She was tired of living afraid and the surgery opened the possibility to live the way she always dreamed about.  It offered hope.  She woke up from the operating table unable to talk, walk, read, or write.  “It was scary to wake up from the surgery,” she reflected, “because no one had expected my loss of ability to speak, read or write. It scared the pants off them [the doctors]! They thought they had messed something up while in there.”  However, with patience, determination and hard work, Giovanna began to relearn her basic motor skills.


Eight months after her surgery, Giovanna considered how far she had come and asked herself: Where do I want to go from here?  What do I want to do with my life?

I want to climb trees and join the circus, she responded.

A quick Google search returned Circus Center and in through our doors she walked.

“I remember my first day,” Giovanna recounted with a smile.  “Kelli was behind the desk.  When I walked through the doors, I felt positive; I felt the joy and the love this place has to offer.  I walked up to Kelli and said ‘I want to do circus.  Where do I start?’”

After determining Giovanna’s interests and finding out where Giovanna was in her recovery process, Kelli helped Giovanna enroll in Friday morning Aerial Conditioning with Elena.

“I was so scared,” Giovanna laughed, “I didn’t want to be stared at.  I didn’t want anybody to notice if I couldn’t keep up.  However, when I came to class, I discovered Circus Center was nothing like that.” Her eyes glowed as she continued: “My favorite memory is actually that first week – and all the following ones – where I couldn’t make it all the way across the floor doing the warm-up exercises.  Nobody stared or called me weak; I was encouraged, but accepted at my limits. I was loved and supported, not dismissed.  Right from the very first.  That’s what makes Circus Center special.”

When I asked what she loves most about training at Circus Center, Giovanna’s answer was instantaneous: the people.

“Google brought me here, but the community is why I stay. The students and the teachers have shown me that I matter.  I was in trapeze this week, and Elena said ‘Good job; you can write now,’ when she saw me taking notes on the lesson from the day.  She remembered.  She remembered that I couldn’t write when I first came and she celebrated my triumph with me.  I love that about this place: the instructors know all of their students, their stories, and work with each one individually.”


As we walked to the Baby Trapeze Room to take photos, Giovanna confessed: “I admit it; I love looking at my progress pictures. They fill me with pride.”  She continued, “When I started class, I couldn’t walk in a straight line.  However, regular practice and consistent exercises every week in conditioning paid off.  I knew what was expected of me and I could feel the progress as my body began to know what I was asking of it.  I’ve regained the strength I had before the seizure and more.  I have exceeded all my previous strength levels.”

Seeing how far she has come, Giovanna is excited to continue her circus journey. “Coming to Circus Center fills me with joy and calm.  Here is where I come to celebrate achievements and encourage myself, make new friends while finally feeling calm. I let go of the doom and despair at the front door.  I’ve never needed to feel afraid or nervous here; just by coming, I’m on my way to doing the impossible.”

Her biggest dream, she shyly admitted, is spinning on the Hoop.  “I’ve wanted to spin forever; it seems so electrifying.  With my head, I never thought I could, but the doctors say my brain looks better than it ever has and that they think circus has been one of the main reasons.” Additionally, Giovanna dreams of one day performing Duo Trapeze with her best friend Ashley Leonard, who also trains at Circus Center.  

Less than two years after surgery, Giovanna is strong and confident – a confidence she attributes to Circus Center – and feels that her time at the Center has completely changed the way she sees and deals with the world.  She works as an environmental educator at the Presidio and since starting her training, Giovanna has found the courage to start her own business, Pinecone Botanicals, where she creates her own salves and essential oils, collecting the ingredients by hand locally.   She is excited about her new callus cream and sharing it with her friends and fellow students. “I’m living my dreams,” she concluded. “I’m outside, climbing trees, and doing circus.  I’m happy.”

To find out more about Giovanna’s salves and essential oils, check out her website:

To learn more about how to support Circus Center's programs, please visit Circus Possible, our Winter Giving Campaign.

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