Circus in the city – Flying Arts Collective

I hold pretty consistently to an 8am-4pm Mon-Fri work schedule, but as a self-employed consultant, it is primarily by choice. When a last minute client reschedule opened up a Friday morning slot I took the opportunity to get in some extra aerial practice.

The Flying Arts Collective offers drop-in open gym time Fridays 10:30am-1pm and Sunday 4pm-6pm. The inexpensive class $10 (non-member), $5 (member) (cash only *I think*) is meant to supplement existing aerial training. Someone is in charge to ensure equipment is used safely, but no teacher is provided, so this isn’t the place for pure beginners or learning new tricks. The main doorway is well marked on the street as ‘Toronto Fighting Arts Collective‘ (shared space with all sorts of interesting looking groups) at 927 Dupont 2nd Floor.

I showed up my usual 10min early (being late for stuff gives me hives), which I wouldn’t recommend since I was the very first one there. Upon reflection I can see that 2.5hrs of aerial is more than plenty of time to work out and performing arts folks aren’t renowned for being early birds. Fortunately, someone from the martial arts space noted my lost expression and invited me to make myself at home and start warming up. Jasper from Flying Arts arrived at 10:30am to lower the permanently rigged equipment. While others trickled in, I signed a waiver, paid for the class and finished warming up. By 11am, things were well underway.

The 2.5 hour all you can aerial session is very well equipped. 5 sets of silks, 2 single point hoops (different diameters), 1 static trapeze, 1 dance trapeze and a corde lisse (rope) were all available for use. Each piece of equipment had ~1” foam matting beneath and a few crash mats floated around for general use. On the day I was there ~15 people attended the session which kept much of the equipment in use without being crowded.

Similar to the open gym sessions, training classes at this space are run on a per class price system. This is similar to a yoga studio, but pretty unusual in Toronto for circus training, which generally runs on a per semester basis. My hours of research watching Centerstage and similar 1990s era dance movies, have led me to believe it is a common class format used in the New York performing arts community. This could also explain why the majority of the people attending the open gym session appeared to be either professional performers or just very very good. It was equal parts impressive and intimidating.

Everyone there was friendly and welcoming. Any and all intimidation I felt was entirely the result of my much deflated ego clanging around my own headspace. I’ve been training on hoop for over a year and like to think that I’m pretty fit these days, but I’m also still a 40something full-time working person who just started silks this summer. Despite an intention to work on my silks skills, I bailed after a few climbs and stayed on the more familiar hoop for the remainder of the class. Next time I’ll go in with a written plan of what I want to work on so it is less tempting to just work the things I’m already comfortable with.

All-in-all, it seems like a great place. The fact that they offer a number of daytime training classes could allow me to add in an extra circus training session around my work schedule. I’m going to buy a 5-class pass and see how it goes!

About Renee

Fortysomething mom, wife and mechanical engineer. Currently working out plans to found a retirement home circus troupe.
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