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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Learn secret circus arts from Tucson’s newest hidden gem

    Courtesy of Circus Academy of Tu
    The Circus Academy of Tucson director Katherine Tesch performs an aerial skill. The Circus Academy of Tucson offers a variety of classes including aerial acrobatics and stretching & contortion classes.

    On the corner of Speedway Boulevard and Main Avenue, you’ll find a small warehouse that, save a big wooden sign that reads “The Circus Academy of Tucson,” blends in with the vacant and whitewashed buildings surrounding it. The warehouse is easily overlooked, but like a diamond in the rough, this business remains one of Tucson’s hidden gems.

    The Circus Academy of Tucson opened in the beginning of January, making the business only a month old. Ten years of teaching experience inspired owner Katherine Tesch to take the plunge as an entrepreneur.

    Circus arts encompass the wide variety of skills displayed during a circus act, from tight-rope walking to juggling to contortion. Tesch aims to teach these skills to the Tucson community while sharing her love for the art form.

    “’I saw a show and I was like ‘wow that’s the coolest thing ever,’ so I started training, teaching and traveling,” she said. “I did it for about a year and then I started teaching. It was a little bit different 10 years ago. There weren’t people really doing it, [but] It’s gotten a lot more popular — not just here but everywhere.”

    The building itself has one major studio room that is filled with fabrics, metal bars and circles hanging from the ceiling. There are long fabrics for silk work and steel bars for trapeze. A smaller version of a tightrope, called a tightwire, occupies the far end of the room — only about a foot off the ground — along with large medicine-ball-looking contraptions called walking globes. For an inconspicuous warehouse, the room feels almost as magical as a circus itself.

    Tesch herself specializes in aerial and fabric/silks, along with lira, sling, trapeze and tight rope. For other circus arts, she has several other instructors to teach other circus arts.

    “I have a contortion teacher and a hand-balancing teacher—which is, like, handstands,” she said. “We have a juggling teacher because I don’t juggle. Two actually. We have a tumbling teacher and another guy that does aerial too, but more like ‘man-style.’ He’ll do the iron cross rollups and stuff.”

    Classes are open to students of all levels, even those who have never seen a trapeze before. “We have a lot of after-school classes for kids and later evening classes for college students,” Tesch said. “We have a few shows for the advanced kids to do, but we’re not really a performance troupe … Usually, I have more than one teacher there, so everyone gets the right amount of attention.”

    One thing most don’t know about circus arts — expect an incredible workout that rigorously tests your muscles and requires a level of grace akin to dance.

    Unsure of where to start? Take a look at the morning aerial class. According to Tesch, “Aerial is anything in the air — the lira, silks, trapeze — anything hanging from the air. So the morning class is like multi-apparatus. With lots of conditioning.”

    Who could resist the allure of the circus, aerial arts and a killer workout? Class schedule and pricing can be found on the academy’s website

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