about dasha sovik

A professional contortionist born in Moscow (Russia), Dasha started training at the age of 7 in rhythmic gymnastics in San Francisco, California, where she and her mother had moved in 1998.

At the age of 12, Dasha decided that 20 hours per week of gymnastics training was not enough, so she started training contortion as well, at the San Francisco Circus Center. There, she joined 3 other child contortionists to form the group called the Mystic Pixies. The girls performed together all over the United States at corporate events, birthday parties, and other events. They were invited to perform at the Monte Carlo children’s circus festival, The Premiere Rampe in the year 2005. In 2006, the girls got hired to work on the Cirque Du Soleil show Kooza.

Dasha continued performing with the Cirque Du Soleil for nearly 5 years. After leaving the company, she moved to Barcelona, Spain, where she lives now and works as a freelance contortionist, teacher and performer.

Intermediate to Advanced Contortion Workshop

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This workshop is for those that have a solid base in contortion and want to move up to the next level. The session starts with a specialized warm up that uses active flexibility to prepare the body for stretching. Beginning with the legs, students will stretch using isolation exercises for each separate muscle group of the body. Emphasis will always be on correct body placement, and above all, injury prevention.

Students will then move on to stretching their shoulders, chest and back, in this order. Once nice and loose, everyone will focus on translating their flexibility into contortion handstands and other tricks.

Safe partner stretching will also be taught throughout the workshop, so as to encourage safe and supportive partner training on a daily basis. Class will finish up with some strength exercises, as it is always important to support flexibility with strength!

Dasha will accept requests from students if they have specific things they want to work on.

  • Cost: $75
  • Friday, March 17th | From 6:30pm - 9pm
  • Prerequisite: Must be able to do “up down”, standing to bridge and back up, have square splits and flat middle splits, be able to comfortably do forearm stand and chin stand. Students enrolled in Intro to Contortion or higher are permitted.
  • All sales are final!

with Elizabeth Blanchard

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
2pm - 3:30pm

Learn the beautiful art of aerial straps! A cross between gymnastics rings and aerial silks, this aerial apparatus will challenge you and push your strength to new heights. This workshop will include basic static poses, as well as spins and balances requiring a combination of strength and or flexibility to master. An intro to the coveted roll-ups will also be covered! So move up to the next level with a true professional who is a master in her field! Minimum age is 14 years old.

*It is recommended that students have the following skills- At least one full range pull-up for upper body strength and five hanging straight leg raises for minimum core strength.

All Sales are final.



about elizabeth blanchard


Elizabeth Blanchard | Circus Center | San Francisco

Elizabeth Blanchard is a Kinesiologist and aerialist; a cast member of EmCirque performance group, Oscillations dance company and a member of the Music of Ghosts Aerialist group. An educational background focusing on biomechanics with emphasis on developing personal movement, Elizabeth focuses on proper body alignment for optimal sport performance and injury prevention. Dedicated and passionate about the aerial arts she is eager to share her knowledge and training with others. Her goal is to teach and instill proper technique, confidence, motivation and love for all things movement and aerial related in everyone she works with.


Each day students will take 2 classes, totaling 3-5 training hours.
Classes will be held between 12 - 9. Class times will vary from day to day.

Monday: Injury Prevention and Contortion
Tuesday: Hand Balancing and Acrobatics
Wednesday: Contortion and Specialty Workshops
Thursday: Acrobatics and Active Flexibility
Friday: Semi-Privates and Hand Balancing/Conditioning

Note: Most days will also have open gym time scheduled.

Dates: June 4 – 30, 2017
Applications and video submissions due by February 3
Acceptances will go out February 17th.
Ages 16 and up
Cost: $2400
Limited space. Students must be accepted in order to attend.

March 3: Deadline for $500 non-refundable deposit
April 14: Deadline for remaining balance


"It may sound cliche but Catie's Contortion Intensive changed my entire life. Before the Intensive, I was never quite sure how to train in order to make progress both safely and timely. That's not to say that progress always comes quickly in contortion, but with Catie's experience, knowledge, and hands-on guidance I was far more successful than I ever was on my own. 

The Intensive was incredibly well organized with just enough training to keep me focused and making progress but also keep me injury free. In addition to the alternating training and recovery time, there were many other great classes, like dance and acrobatics, that built onto and improved my contortion practice and performance.

All of the classes in the Contortion Intensive were small and specific to my training needs, which allowed me to set my own goals based on my ability, and made me feel like I could accomplish them. Not only did this makes for an excellent training experience, but it also incorporated me into a surprisingly supportive, loving, and motivating circus community. It was like I discovered the family I never had, but always dreamed of!"

- 2015 Contortion Intensive graduate. 


JUNE 4 - 30, 2017

Unlike anything offered in the US, this four-week intensive not only increases students' flexibility and knowledge in Mongolian contortion, but develops and creates well-rounded performers. The first three weeks will focus on perfecting technique, developing personalized tools, and learning new skills to add to students' repertoires, as well as weekly workshops. These speciality workshops will deal with nutrition, character development, resumes, and helping students navigate the professional circus world upon completion. The final week will focus primarily on developing an act for each individual student which will then be presented in a final showcase on the last day of the intensive. Any budding contortionists looking to enhance their technique while gaining knowledge of this business would significantly benefit from this intensive.

If you have any questions, you can contact our instructor Catie Brier at contortion@circuscenter.org



Catie Brier | Senior Faculty | Circus Center

Catie has been a resident of San Francisco for over 11 years. She began her training at Dance and Circus Arts of Tampa Bay over 17 years ago, where she studied dance and contortion. During her time there she trained under choreographer Debra Brown and contortionist Laurence Racine. Upon moving to San Francisco she started training with Master Lu Yi at Circus Center. She went on to train with Mongolian contortionist Serchmaa Byamba and began performing all around the United States. She’s been seen performing with companies such as Quixotic Fusion, Circus Bella, Trapeze World and New Pickle Circus. Throughout her career Catie has developed a passion for not only teaching the art of contortion but also inspiring people to push the limits of their bodies. Over the last few years Catie has developed a thriving and entirely unique contortion program at Circus Center. This will be her 4th year directing the Contortion Intensive since establishing it in 2013.


Is this program suitable for beginners?

Short answer, no. This program is designed for students who have had previous flexibility or contortion training. That said, everyone is encouraged to apply!

Why don't you have a minimum skill level?

Everyone's body is different. Some skills that are considered standard contortion skills might be hard for certain people because of body type/proportions, training experience, etc. I don't want to discourage people to apply because of body type. We do hope that everyone who applies is able to go in and out of a chest stand relatively easily though.

Do I need to find my own housing, or will housing be provided?

You are responsible for finding your own housing. There are resources on this website, or you can ask the circus community as there are usually people looking to sublet their rooms during the month of June.

Is there an age limit?

Technically no. The program is designed more for students 16-30, but you will not be turned away solely based on age if you are over that. (Every past intensive has had at least 2 people over 30)

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