The big top is on the move! Philadelphia School of Circus Arts announces the grand opening of a new 28,000-square-foot circus school and training studio at the former home of St. Madeleine Sophie Church (6452 Greene Street) in West Mt. Airy. Students from the tri-state region will soar to new heights in the sanctuary that boasts 40 foot tall ceilings, original brilliant stained glass windows and an observation gallery. One hundred weekly classes will be offered for adults and children, from beginner to advanced students, in aerials, juggling, unicycling, tightwire, tumbling, acrobatics and physical conditioning. The new facility will also be home to the history-making Circadium School of Contemporary Circus - the first state-licensed vocational circus school in the United States.
Grand opening festivities for both schools will take place on Friday, September 15 through Sunday, September 17, 2017. The weekend will include a SEPTA circus take-over, free performances, a ribbon cutting ceremony and free circus workshops. Sign-ups for the free activities, a full roster of fall classes and a list of coming events are now all posted at www.phillycircus.com.
“After 17 years of operations, and an exhaustive property search, we are finally able to say we have realized a dream,” said PSCA and Circadium Executive Director Shana Kennedy. “We have gone from one-on-one classes in my home to becoming the regional center for all things circus arts. We are proud to grow, expand and enter new territory at the same time as the region’s interest in circus arts continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Circus arts are now ingrained in the fabric of our region’s arts and culture community. We are proud to have helped make that happen and we look forward to the opportunity to help define what circus means to a whole new generation.”
Shana and Greg Kennedy purchased St. Madeleine Sophie Church and the two-acre property surrounding the church for $1.2M. Their purchase includes the sanctuary and gymnasium, school building, a non-occupied home, and a portico/gatehouse. The grounds feature expansive green space that may be used for outdoor classes, performances and a potential circus festival. Students and guests will enjoy free parking in the 55 car parking lot behind the church off of West Cliveden Street. The property also offers direct access from Center City and Chestnut Hill via the SEPTA Upsal station located just feet from the school’s main entrance.
After a multi-year search, the final sale of the property was completed on September 1, 2017. Light renovations began in August (during a special lease engagement) with the final renovations and installation of circus equipment ready for classes in early September. By grand opening weekend on September 15-17, 2017 all classes for both schools will be up and officially running. PSCA offices will also open officially by mid-September. Renovations are expected to total around $80,000 for phase one.
GRAND OPENING WEEKEND
Philadelphia School of Circus Arts invites the region to celebrate the new circus school with a weekend of free workshops, performances and tours. All activities listed below are free and open to the public. As a special bonus, look for special discounted enrollment and new student deals that will be available on location during grand opening weekend festivities!
Friday, September 15, 2017
5:00pm to 6:00pm - Free circus workshops (Intro to Aerials, Intro to Partner Acrobatics, Intro to Handstands and Tumbling, Intro to Art of Balance) for ages 6 and up to adults.
5:00pm to 5:45pm - Free workshop for Tots and Kinder ages 3-5 years old.
5:00pm to 5:30pm - Open house tours
6:00pm to 6:30pm - Open house tours
6:15pm to 7:15pm - Free circus workshops (Intro to Aerials, Intro to Partner Acrobatics, Intro to Handstands and Tumbling, Intro to Art of Balance) for ages 6 and up to adults.
6:15pm to 7:00pm - Free workshop for Tots and Kinder ages 3-5 years old.
7:15pm to 8:15pm - Free circus workshops (Intro to Aerials, Intro to Partner Acrobatics, Intro to Handstands and Tumbling, Intro to Art of Balance) for ages 6 and up to adults.
7:15pm - Give and Take Jugglers - Free show in the sanctuary
8:00pm to 8:30pm - Open house tours
Saturday, September 16, 2017
11:00am on the hour until 4:00pm - Open house tours
11:00am to 12:00pm - Free workshops (Intro to Partner Acrobatics and Intro to Art of Balance) for ages 6 up to adults.
12:00pm to 1:00pm - Free workshops (Intro to Handstands and Tumbling and Intro to Art of Balance) for ages 6 and up to adult.
1:00pm to 1:30pm - Tightwire Fun for Kids and Registration for Ribbon Cutting and Performance - Outside the Sanctuary (Outdoors weather pending)
1:30pm to 2:00pm - Ribbon Cutting, Performance and Dedication - Sanctuary
2:00pm to 2:30pm - Welcome Reception - Sanctuary
3:00pm to 3:15pm - Youth Troupe Performance - Sanctuary
3:00pm to 3:45pm - Free child/adult workshop for Tots and Kinder ages 3-5 years old.
3:00pm to 4:00pm - Free circus workshops (Intro to Aerials, Intro to Partner Acrobatics, Intro to Handstands and Tumbling, Intro to Art of Balance) for ages 6 and up to adults.
4:30pm top 5:15pm - Free for Tots and Kinder ages 3-5 years old.
4:30pm to 5:30pm - Free circus workshops (Intro to Aerials, Intro to Partner Acrobatics, Intro to Handstands and Tumbling, Intro to Art of Balance) for ages 6 and up to adults.
6:00pm to 7:00pm - Free circus workshops (Intro to Aerials, Intro to Partner Acrobatics, Intro to Handstands and Tumbling, Intro to Art of Balance) for ages 6 and up to adults.
Sunday, September 17, 2017
11:00am on the hour until 2:00pm - Open House Tours
1:00pm to 2:00pm - Circus Fun for Kids with Tightrope Demo, Juggling and More During Open House Tours (Lawn outside sanctuary)
FALL CLASSES AND NEW STUDENT DEALS
Philadelphia School for Circus Arts, “Best of Philly Winner” for kid’s classes, returns for back to (circus) school this fall. Fall class sessions are now open and class cards are available for the new space. If you are new to circus arts, it is suggested you purchase a card for one, six, twelve or twenty-four classes in ‘Fundamentals’ or any Level 1 Acrobatics classes. These classes are designed to be accessible to all body types and fitness levels, and so are the perfect way to get familiar with the circus arts. Classes for beginners this fall include Trapeze/Fundamentals, Art of Balance, Tumbling, Handstands, Contortion/Legs, Contortion/Back, Adult Partner Acrobatics, Circus Strong and Aerial Sling Fundamentals.
For new students looking to try adult or children’s classes, PSCA is offering the new student discount below - valid one per purchase:
* $300 for a 24 class card
* $200 for a 12 class card
* $100 for a 6 class card
* 25% off any youth Fall enrollment
For the full schedule of new classes, visit: http://phillycircus.com/new-adult-calendar/
For advanced students with prior experience, the fall class schedule is found:
INSIDE THE NEW SPACE
Inside the church and school, 28,000 square feet will be available for classes, training space, performances, private sessions, rentals and weddings, special events, birthday parties, office space, staff lounge and kitchen, student lounge, storage and more.
The 5,000-square-foot sanctuary features a 40 foot high ceiling, stained glass windows, a viewing gallery and additional space for new trampoline classes. Under the sanctuary rests a 5,000-square-foot gymnasium with a 17 foot high ceiling that will also be outfitted with aerial rigs and features a performance stage. Inside the school building, each floor features approximately 6,000 square feet of space per each of the three floors and a total of ten classrooms.
On the recreational side of operations, Philadelphia School of Circus Arts will offer 100+ classes open to the general public, from children to teens to adults, from intro to advanced levels.
On the professional side of operations, the non-profit arts school Circadium School of Contemporary Circus will offer 35 to 40 hours of training and classes each week for its first students from around the globe.
The two schools will operate in tandem with each other keeping the new circus facility operational at least 12 hours a day with the most talented and acclaimed instructors from Philadelphia, the United States and around the world.
Down the road, future plans include renovating the home on campus for dorms or an artist in residence program. The organ room will become a phase two observation deck constructed in 2018. The grounds also leave room for future expansion of programs down the road.
St. Madeleine Sophie was a Catholic church, built in the 1930s, and it was part of a consolidation process - the diocese took three churches in this area and combined them into one. The white house next to the church dates back to 1850 when Upsal Street ran directly through the center of the property. The rectory and Manor House was built in 1890 by a man who made his money in shoe polish funded the construction of the rectory.
While some details will remain of the church and the religious designs - including authentic pews, stained glass, lighting and ceiling details, the church has reclaimed the religious artifacts and statues in the building for their archives.
CIRCUS NEIGHBORS MOVING IN
The three-acre property surrounding the church has been subdivided between the Kennedys for two acres and long-time circus colleague and friend David Gillies for the additional acre. Gillies operates Give and Take Jugglers and will live in the stunning historic Manor House that was built in the 1800s. Gillies plans to set up tight wires on the expansive lawn and practice for upcoming performances.
NEW CIRCADIUM SCHOOL OF CONTEMPORARY CIRCUS
Philadelphia, a city of many historic firsts, makes history again by becoming the nation’s first state-licensed, non-profit vocational college offering a Diploma of Circus Arts.
“Philadelphia is the perfect place to launch America's first school offering a higher education program in circus arts," said Kennedy. "We are thrilled that our circus hub will now welcome and connect students from around the globe as they pursue a diploma in modern circus."
Circadium’s full-time, three-year, non-profit training program brings together circus students seeking higher education and professional training opportunities. Circadium officially opens this month with the first class of students from around the world.
Circadium was first announced on top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps in summer of 2016 and went on to raise over $50,000 in its initial Kickstarer Campaign to fund the nonprofit arts school. Save the date and look for information about the Circadium Gala Event on November 4, 2017.
BIRTHDAY PARTIES, WEDDINGS, RENTALS
Philadelphia School of Circus Arts will expand special event space offerings in the new building. The new building will feature a special circus birthday party room to compliment the circus lessons children will enjoy on the studio floor. The sanctuary and other spaces in the building are also available for weddings, anniversary, non-profit events, arts performances and more pending the class and availability schedule. Please call 215-849-1991 for information.
Details about the new birthday party room will be forthcoming by October of 2017.
Students and parents can learn more about Philadelphia School of Circus Arts by calling 215-849-1911, visiting www.phillycircus.com, by following @phillycircus on Twitter, and liking Philadelphia School of Circus Arts on Facebook.
Students and potential donors can learn more by calling 215-849-1991, visiting www.circadium.com, by following @circadiumschool on Twitter, and liking Circadium on Facebook.