Philadelphia School of Circus Arts

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The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts (PSCA) is a contemporary circus school in Philadelphia.[1][2] It began in June 2008.[2]

The curriculum includes aerial skills, such as static trapeze, corde lisse or rope, lyra) and juggling, unicycling, tightwire, tumbling, Chinese acrobatics, physical conditioning and other circus arts.[2][3] Class sessions run four times per year, for eight weeks per session.[3] Classes are for all ages, ranging from children 18 months and older, to adults of any age.[1][3]

In addition to ongoing classes, PSCA offers introductory workshops that are around one hour in length.[4] They introduce potential students to aerials, circus arts, or children's circus arts.[4] These special workshops require no prior experience in circus arts or formal training.[4] The workshops also provide a forum for participants to try out aerials, circus arts and children's circus arts without the commitment of an eight-week session.[4][5]

PSCA has expanded from a school where one can learn circus arts to a performing arts organization that offers performances on-site and in the community. PSCA is a regular participant in the Philadelphia International Children's Festival,[6] Philadelphia Folk Festival,[7] the Chestnut Hill Fall for Arts festival, and other community celebrations. The school presents an annual fall cabaret performance every November.[8] PSCA is also participating in the Kimmel Center for the Arts "Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts" in spring, 2011.[9] The school is also the home to several performances that are part of the Philadelphia Live Arts/Fringe Festival.[10][11][12] In 2009, Philadelphia School of Circus Arts attracted 1,500 patrons to performances and events.[1]

Summer camp[edit]

Every summer, PSCA presents summer camp for children of all ages. The Youth Camp gives children the opportunity to develop skills on the trapeze, aerial rope and silks, juggling, unicycling, plate-spinning, diabolo, devil sticks, tightwire, rolling globe, rola-bola, clowning and tumbling. The Youth Camp also includes activities such as dance and performance classes, student showtimes, lunchtimes in the park, co-operative games. Children must be seven years old and have completed the first grade to attend youth camp. Kindercamp is for children five to six years old. This one-week program places a greater emphasis on play and exploration. Children will learn how to do trapeze, aerial rope and silks, feather-balancing, scarf-juggling, plate-spinning, tightwire, rolling globe, tumbling and obstacle courses. The camp also includes playground visits, arts and crafts projects, as well as rest time.[13]

Additional activities at the PSCA studio include children's birthday parties, wedding and social events, private lessons, corporate team-building workshops, guest workshops, and school vacation activities.[3]


The Head coach currently at PSCA is Adam Woolley. He is on the Board of Directors of American Youth Circus Organization and works as Safety Program Manager for the American Circus Educators Association. In addition, he is a sought-after corde and silks instructor. Terry Brennan works as a Parkour instructor and Youth Circus Instructor. He is also head of the PSCA "Youth Troop". Aerial instructors include: Adam, Rachel Lancaster, Christine Morano, Shannon Sexton, Megan Gendall, Fenix Cobbledick, and Eric Micheals. Many instructors specialize in acrobatics, handstands, or juggling, like Nicole Burgio, Alexander McCaw, and Dmitri Meyers. All of the coaches have professional education in circus and/or a long history in its practice.


PSCA puts on several shows and performances annually, both in and out of the school itself. They have Student showcases twice a year for adult students and once for younger students in a "Youth Soirée". in addition to these, many of the staff member at the school participate in gigs and traveling performances throughout the year. The smaller youth group called PSCA's "Youth Troop" coordinates many shows throughout the greater Philadelphia area. Some students may also coordinate shows with other schools, like the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet.


PSCA was founded by Shana Kennedy, who is the owner of PSCA along with her husband, Greg Kennedy. Greg is an internationally renowned juggler, who was in Cirque du Soliel's Totem from 2010-2014.[2][14] Kennedy trained as an aerialist and a juggler at Circomedia, in England.[14]

She began teaching aerial skills in her home's backyard in 2001. In 2006, Kennedy formed Air Play, which would become a performance and teaching company. In 2008, Kennedy opened the full-fledged school facility known today as Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. The school's Coordinating Director is Kitsie O'Niel. The school attracts students are all ages and all levels, coming from the local area (Germantown, Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, South Jersey) all the way to New York City. The studio space is 3,200 square feet (300 m2) located in a renovated bowling alley with picture windows that overlook neighboring gardens, an elevated observation deck, rigging points for 18 pieces of aerial equipment and an expanse of bamboo flooring.[1][3][15]

PSCA is an affiliate member of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.[16] In 2010, PSCA was named "Best Children's Entertainment Winner" by the voters and readers of MyPHL17 Hotlist/Cityvoter for children's entertainment.[17] In 2009, PSCA was named "Best of Philadelphia" by Philadelphia Magazine for children's classes.[1][18]

People have traveled from as far as Brooklyn, New York and Wilmington, Delaware, to attend the school.[2]

Similar schools[edit]

Other circus schools include Aloft Loft in Chicago, Circus Center in San Francisco, and Aircraft in Boston; the latter was founded by Jill Maio, who was trained by Kennedy.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Home". Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Sherri Hospedales (14 October 2008), Circus arts hit Philly, The Temple News, retrieved 2010-10-12 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Philadelphia: Philadelphia School of Circus Arts | Family". 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  4. ^ a b c d " - Introductory Workshops". 
  5. ^ "Intro to Aerials Workshop". Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  6. ^ Monica Peters (30 April 2010), International delights at Annenberg, Philadelphia Inquirer, retrieved 2010-10-12 [dead link]
  7. ^ Local residents bring talent to Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Recorder, Journal Register Company, 27 August 2008, retrieved 2010-10-12 
  8. ^ "Phantastical Phanatical! A Philly Circus Cabaret - Family-Friendly". Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  9. ^ "PIFA". PIFA. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  10. ^ Annual Fringe Festival is nothing fancy, Delaware County: Daily Times, 28 August 2008, retrieved 2010-10-12 
  11. ^ "2010 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe". Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  12. ^ "2010 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe". Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  13. ^ "". 
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ "Philadelphia School of Circus Arts : Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia". 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  17. ^ "Philadelphia School of Circus Arts in Philadelphia PA on MyPhl17's HOT LIST". Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  18. ^ "The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Retail Shop - Philadelphia Magazine". Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  19. ^ Christine Liu (8 April 2010), Aerial scene takes off in region, The Boston Globe, retrieved 2010-10-12 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°02′08″N 75°10′44″W / 40.035525°N 75.178963°W / 40.035525; -75.178963