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Fly Away at Trapeze Arts

By Elisha Neubauer

As children, we've all wanted to run away and join a travelling circus at some point in time. Every kid dreams of walking the tight-rope or flying on the trapeze, but as adults, we tend to think of that dream as unrealistic. Reviving that dream was the inspiration behind Trapeze Arts, or (510-419-0700), a school in Oakland, CA dedicated to teaching the circus arts to young and old. Trapeze Arts offers instruction in the flying trapeze- as well as aerial arts, trampolining, juggling, acrobatics, and much more.

Stephan Gaudreau, Artistic Director of Trapeze Arts, had previously worked for Club Med and several circus companies as a professional flying trapeze artist. After settling in San Francisco with his wife, he decided that circus arts should be available in the real world, rather than reserved for vacationers and circus families. Lili and Stephan Gaudreau, founders of Trapeze Arts, decided to open the circus school in 1994. Lili Gaudreau said, "In '94, when we began, circus instruction was not something that was available to the general public. One had to be born into a circus family to learn these skills, so we saw this as an opportunity to bring something new to the area."

The Gaudreaus say they are often asked whether circus arts are considered a sport or an art. Lili Gaudreau responds that it is actually both. "Circus arts combine extreme athleticism with artistic expression," she explains. "It's not just a matter of mastering a skill." One can take a single lesson or sign up for a series of classes. The lessons are ongoing, meaning you can begin at any time and attend year round. Private lessons are available in all of the circus arts disciplines, and summer camps are offered for students between the ages of seven and fourteen. You can also purchase clothing and equipment at Trapeze Arts' in-house store, which makes the school a full service location.

When it comes to impacting lives, Lili Gaudreau claims nothing beats seeing a new student's face when they first see the trapeze setup. "Their first comment is usually, 'I am going to do that?' And then, at the end of the class, after they have accomplished something on the trapeze that they never imagined possible, they leave saying, 'I can't believe I did that!,'" she tells us.

The Trapeze Arts mission is to "provide an opportunity for any individual to experience and learn aerial and other circus arts in a supportive, non-competitive environment." They provide the same level of education to all students, regardless if they are taking classes just for fun and exercise or are training for a professional career in the circus arts. The school currently has students working for companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Bros., and Barnum & Bailey; and has students enrolled from age two to eighty-two.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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