Fanny Kerwich, Lone Star Circus’s founder and current creative director, was born with the circus in her blood. An eighth-generation member of a renowned French circus family, she has been performing since age 6, delighting international audiences at Paris’s Lido and Moulin Rouge, Germany’s Circus Roncalli, and San Francisco’s Teatro ZinZanni.
Fanny’s performing experience and artistic vision now guide the nonprofit Lone Star Circus, which is a two-branched operation. Its performance troupe’s grace and athleticism shine during shows such as the upcoming winter spectacle, Cirque Banquisté. The circus’s school hosts classes for youngsters and adults, teaching them how to swing from trapezes, scale silks, and contort their frames so they can more accurately pantomime what Gumby would look like during a high-speed car chase.
It doesn't take a superhero's physique or a disregard for the laws of gravity to become one of those daring people on the flying trapeze. And you don't have to be French, Canadian, or French-Canadian to perform those eye-popping, jaw-dropping feats seen in Cirque du Soleil. According to Cirque School founder Aloysia Gavre, "anybody with any body" can run away with the circus, and she should know. As a former Cirque du Soleil aerialist, Aloysia's has long been dominated by a passion for the circus arts. Her Cirque School has been teaching the tricks of the trade to new generations of circus performers since 2004, when it started humbly in a small Pilates studio. These small classes quickly blossomed into a full-time community institution as the school expanded into its current 6,000 square foot Hollywood studio. It's here where Gavre and her team of aerialists, contortionists, acrobats, stilt walkers, jugglers, and balance experts turn even the most casual circus fan into a full-blown big-top fanatic. They've even become the go-to for Hollywood productions seeking circus training, including consulting work for network shows and making Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz look like natural-born circus performers in Water for Elephants.
In classes designed for ages 14 and up, Cirque School melds professional circus training with limberness-enhancing Pilates. It tones frames, cultivates flexiblity, and gives helps give future circus strongmen their strength, all while filling students with mental and physical wellness. It's rigorous, but that rigor is always overshadowed by fun, and as sticklers for safety, nobody works without crash pads. Dangling from a 10- to 19-foot open barrel-roof ceiling, students work their cores and upper bodies in the Pilates-infused Aerial Fitness & Conditioning class, a 60-minute workshop on beginner-level trapeze, fabric, and rope tricks such as climbing gracefully or lassoing the instructor. AcroFit & Intro to Handstands participants hold handstands and develop tumbling techniques in a 60-minute cross-training program held in the school’s 6,000 square feet of industrial loft space. Alternatively, students can lengthen their limbs during Flexibility & Stretch, a 90-minute cocktail of circus contortion, dance training, and rubber-band impersonation.
The instructors at Airealistic Circus & Flying know a thing or two about gravity, having defied it on behalf of Cirque de Soleil, De La Guarda, and Franco Dragone productions. For example, program director Carmen Curtis uses a foundation in gymnastics to elevate her cirque routines, which she showcases as a member of Airealistic Theater Company. These experiences grant her the expertise to lead her aerial classes, which are taught alongside gymanstics and yoga classes. Whether teaching family circus or acroyoga classes, all staff members prioritize safety as they introduce kids and adults to aerial apparatuses.
In addition to gymnastics, booty bar, and Vinyasa yoga sessions, the trainers teach AIReal Yoga, Acro and Tumbling, Hatha yoga, Power Barre, Barre Fitness, Contemporary Dance, Pilates and Afro-Brazilian Dance, believing that one's choice of style reflects his or her own unique character. Their aerial and acro-yoga variations also encourage students to test their notions about human flight in a noncompetitive setting. Each class incorporates a fitness component into its exhilarating routine, and the schedule includes classes at all times of day.