To fly through the air with the greatest of ease, like the man on that infamous flying trapeze, you’ll need some instruction, at reasonable fees. Fortunately for you, San Francisco’s East Bay is a hotbed of circus arts of all sorts. You (and your kids) can learn juggling skills, how to ride a unicycle and clowning. Contact these venues for a great workout in the circus arts and some seriously wonderful fun. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to audition for the Cirque de Soleil, or at least have a lot of fun trying to get there.

Trapeze Arts, Inc.
1822 9th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 419-0700

Trapeze Arts is a full-time professional training school for the circus arts, one of only a few in the entire United States. It offers all sorts of instruction on a range of equipment from trapeze to trampoline and juggling to unicycles. It even offers classes in Chinese acrobatics. Beginning in mid June, Trapeze Arts will be conducting a summer circus camp for kids. Detailed descriptions for all of the classes and summer camp are available on the website.

Kinetic Arts Center
785 7th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 444-4800

The Kinetic Arts Center likes to describe its program in three words: Circus! Fitness! Inspiration! It offers circus-inspired fitness classes for all levels. Along with circus arts, Kinetic provides a curriculum in physical theatre. It is home to Circus Spire, a pre-professional kids performance troup for youngsters ages eight to 18. Circus Spire offers regular performance opportunities, both formally and informally. The Center presents a regular schedule of professional performances around the East Bay. The website provides detailed information.

Athletic PlayGround
4770 San Pablo Ave., Unit E
Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 355-1626

The Athletic PlayGround offers some classes with rather intriguing names: monkey conditioning, acroyoga and breakdance, to name a few. This spot is well known for hosting memorable birthday parties that feature fun tumbling, circus and gymnastics activities of all sorts. A very popular facility, the Athletic PlayGround has over 20 instructors on its roster. Together, this large group offers an extraordinary range of backgrounds and experience in all aspects of movement, body work and circus performance. Athletic PlayGround will be offering Batman Training Workshops beginning in April. Where else are you going to find that?

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Head Over Heels Athletic Arts
4701 Doyle St.
Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 655-1265

Head Over Heels is a traditional gymnastics training facility with extensive, professional-level coaching and a gymnastic teams. It also presents the Circus Splash program in circus arts. The program trains gymnastics athletes to compete at national levels as well as prepares circus artists for professional performance. Head Over Heels is a home for the serious athlete with Olympic ambitions, as well as the circus aficionado. Its executive director, Katreece Stone, attended UC Berkeley on a full athletic scholarship in gymnastics. She leads a team of highly qualified coaches with a wide range of backgrounds including not only competitive gymnastics but professional dance, choreography and circus performance.

Berkeley Juggling Club
Berkeley, CA 94705

The popular Berkeley Juggling Club, where members will offer encouragement, instruction and endless fun, meets weekly at Willard Park in Berkeley, rain or shine. (Well, if it’s raining, they do go indoors.) This group doesn’t just juggle. Members perform unicycling, acrobalance, whip cracking, slack lining and more. They are also associated with the Berkeley Unicycle Club that meets regularly for Unicycle Basketball. If you think you’re up to the challenge, just ask. It’s always wise to double check the website or send an e-mail to be sure of the schedule.

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Charles Kruger is well known in the Bay area as “The Storming Bohemian” ever since he entered the Bay Area cultural scene in the summer of 2009, attending 90 cultural events in 90 days and blogging about it. This project was successful enough to warrant a mention in The New York Times. His coverage of Bay area theatre can be found at