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There’s something captivating about circus performers — the immeasurable skills and unshakeable nerves of tightrope walkers and jugglers and acrobats taking flight. And as Cirque du Soleil arrives in Nashville for its February residency, we’re all the more intrigued. While you likely don’t want to run away with the circus, there are a few local options that invite you to explore this fascinating art (and fitness!) form. So whether you’re a circus-curious soul or merely looking for a fun way to get fit, we’ve discovered several ways you can experience a more local, hands-on approach to learning — or simply watching — the art of circus.

Nashville Circus Center

1724A General George Patton Dr., Brentwood, TN 37027
(615) 678-4739expressioncity.com

The name says it all. With class options for the entire family, Expression City’s Nashville Circus Center has everything from creative movement and youth trapeze instruction to circus camp and adult aerial classes. They even teach plate spinning. Located in Cool Springs and open for roughly four years, the company was founded by Allison Barberi, who was initially looking for a way to preoccupy her children. “We have 12 kids, and they each like a different aspect of the arts. As a mom, I can only chauffeur to so many different places! So, we just decided to open our own place,” she explains. “One of our daughters had already been taking some lessons in aerial silks, and she really liked it, so we were just going to have those. But as soon as people found out that we had aerial silks, circus people came out of the woodwork and found us.”

When asked about Nashville’s emerging circus scene and why she thinks so many people are drawn to circus arts, she says, “I think part of it is that it’s just welcoming and all-inclusive. You have all types who want to do circus — some like to do it because they want to learn to be a performer; some do it as an interesting way to get fit. So, I think it just appeals to a lot of different types of people.”

Child in class at Nashville Circus Center

Nashville Circus Center is fun for the whole family, with class instruction for ages 3 and older. Image: Chris Creed

woman in aerial sling at Nashville Circus Center

Nashville Circus Center “offers everything,” according to owner Allison Barberi — silks, trapeze, aerial hoop, juggling workshops and more. Image: Chris Creed

Beyond Wings Circus

(615) 208-6044 • beyondwings.web.com

Beyond Wings is a local entertainment-for-hire company offering exciting circus-related performances at a variety of events and venues, including at CMT Awards parties, the Nashville Symphony and the Grand Ole Opry. Guests can watch in awe as the Beyond Wings performers showcase their skills in aerial flying, fire dancing, stilt walking and more. Watch them at their weekly Friday, Saturday and Sunday stints at Plaza Mariachi, check out a full list of events on their website, or consider hiring them to bring a unique spin to your next event.

Beyond wings circus performance with fire

Catch a performance by Beyond Wings Circus and prepare to be amazed! Image: Facebook

RELATED: Plaza Mariachi — A Cultural Experience You Must See for Yourself

Studio Goddess

919 8th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203
(800) 373-4646studiogoddess.com

Studio Goddess offers a variety of “alternative fitness” classes, including yoga, Pilates, dance, gymnastics and yes, circus arts. “Studio Goddess was created to yield empowerment, increase confidence, and to provide a stage for every woman to stand in her power,” shares Studio Goddess owner and creative director Kristen Nicole Hall. “We aspire to be a catalyst in encouraging others to be relentlessly optimistic and fearlessly unique.”

Whether you’re looking to become an expert in the aerial technique or simply want to build your strength, you’ll be coached by a group of accomplished performers who’ve come together to provide a safe, supportive environment in which to train.

Women learning how to work aerial hammock at Studio Goddess

In this circus-inspired class at Studio Goddess, attendees learn to work with an aerial hammock. You can almost feel the stretch! Image: Lucid Linds Photography

Suspended Gravity Circus

suspendedcircus.com

Local company Suspended Gravity Circus, an “aerial arts collective,” includes artists and performers who both teach and are available for hire. “Our work has been featured in the Nashville Sideshow Fringe Festival and the Kindling Arts Festival,” explains Bailey Freeman, a Suspended Gravity performer. “We have also collaborated with several pillars of Nashville’s art community including the Frist Art Museum, 21c Hotel and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.”

Suspended Gravity’s circus artists are experienced in everything from the trapeze to aerial dance and can train students in a variety of disciplines, such as fabric or aerial hammock. Classes are offered at various outlets around town, including the above-mentioned Studio Goddess as well as The Chrome Bar and Fall Aerial Arts. Visit their website to learn about instruction options and to find a local performance schedule.

Aerial artist performing on hoop for circus practice

Do not try this at home … but definitely take lessons for it! Suspended Gravity offers a variety of aerial training options. Image: Curious Humanography

A woman doing aerial practice on a rope

The professionals make it look easy! Image: Curious Humanography

RELATED: We’re Not Getting Younger, So Let’s Have Some Fun!

Nashville Jugglers

facebook.com/NashvilleJugglers

We would be remiss not to mention Nashville’s local juggling community. If you’re looking to take your hand-eye coordination to the next level, you can check out Nashville Jugglers. While World Juggling Day isn’t until June 20 this year (bet you didn’t know THAT existed, did you?), this community posts meetup dates and celebratory events all year long. So dust off those juggling rings and get ready to practice, practice, practice!

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