Philadelphia School of Circus Arts to Launch Circadium: The First Professional Training School For Circus Artists in the United States
PHILADELPHIA, October 15, 2015 — Building upon the strong foundations of the highly successful and growing Philadelphia School of Circus Arts (PSCA), Circadium is set to be the first full-time, three-year, professional training school for circus artists in the United States. The school, which will closely network with England’s top circus colleges, the National Centre for Circus Arts in London and Circomedia in Bristol, will move into its brand new facilities in 2016, and open its doors to students in Fall 2017.
The journey to the school’s opening day will be marked by events to build excitement and awareness of this unique artistic endeavor in both Philadelphia and the nation. Along with performances around Philadelphia that will also include discussions and presentations regarding Circadium’s mission, plan, and future, there will be a multi-faceted ongoing collaboration entitled “Circus Memoir” that will involve arts organizations, citizens, local leaders and everyone with special memories or connections to the circus arts.
Through its work with recreational students, PSCA has already proven the transformational power of circus: for both youth and adults, the discovery of an art form that is accessible, non-competitive, physical, and deeply creative can be life-changing. For those students who come to realize that circus is their one true passion, they will now be able to pursue that passion right here in Philadelphia thanks to Circadium.
Founded in 2008 by Shana Kennedy, PSCA offers 115 recreational classes per week to over 500 students, it employs 25 circus teachers with decades of experience in the field, and boasts a beautiful facility with state-of-the-art equipment. PSCA has established close relationships with many arts organizations in and around Philadelphia, including the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training, FringeArts, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet. The entire local arts community will benefit from the infusion of innovative artists as Circadium attracts the world’s most talented instructors and most promising students to the Philadelphia area.
Circadium will capitalize on the momentum of PSCA’s efforts in order to benefit students who are serious about pursuing a career in the circus, giving those students the proper tools to contribute meaningfully to the field and to support themselves as artists. The curriculum will incorporate supplementary coursework in dance, theatre, production, management, and business. The school will hire top-tier coaches including former Cirque du Soleil performers and internationally-renowned circus artists — some of whom have already begun relocating to Philadelphia in anticipation of Circadium’s 2017 opening.
CIRCADIUM – A LIFELONG DREAM AND A NEW BEGINNING
In 1998, Greg and Shana Kennedy arrived in Philadelphia after years of world travel, study and performance as circus artists. They made their home here and continued to perform, occasionally traveling internationally for shows.
Prior to arriving in Philadelphia, Greg trained at l’Ecole Nationale des Arts du Cirque in France. Shana studied aerials, acrobatics and clowning at Circomedia in Bristol, UK. To study circus arts at a professional level, one had to leave the country.
Shana thought about that and it became her dream to build a professional circus school in the United States.
In the 2000s the couple taught, performed and started a family in Philadelphia. They also opened the recreational Philadelphia School of Circus Arts (PSCA) in Germantown, just the beginning of Shana’s long-term goal. Then in 2009, Greg was recruited by Cirque du Soleil to join Totem. The whole family went on tour for 4 years, while PSCA staff ran the school, which offers adult and youth classes in acrobatics, static aerials, juggling and equilibristics, and physical conditioning. The school has grown to accommodate over 400 students every week in more than 100 classes & workshops.
After returning from the Cirque du Soleil tour, Shana set out to establish a true school of higher education for circus – the first in the United States. “The tides were shifting,” she remembered. “More and more students were seeking full-time professional training.”
Shana and Greg decided to take a big step. While continuing to manage PSCA, they formed a new non-profit, established a Board of Directors and began the process of creating Circadium, the nation’s first school of contemporary circus arts.
Circadium is set to become both a regional and a national arts asset. Contemporary circus is a dynamic, theatrical and innovative experience that breaks traditional molds. It shows an evolution from traditional circus arts to more narrative-driven performance; it retains the thrill and excitement that audiences come to see, while pushing the boundaries of circus with creative staging, choreography, and music.
For students who are ready to be fully immersed in the theatrical world of contemporary circus, Circadium’s faculty members are internationally-renowned performing artists and coaches who are committed to meeting their needs. Every student is unique, and it is the mission of Circadium to foster the development of the whole artist. We aim to do that by providing a number of resources:
- training space and performance space, top-tier faculty, a vast array of equipment, a workshop to build new apparatus
- a network throughout the city of other artists, business professionals and performance venues.
- A 3-year, full-time curriculum including coursework in Acrobatics, Aerials, Object Manipulation, Equilibristics, Physical Theatre, Movement, Strength and Flexibility, and supplementary work in Business and Marketing, Theater Tech, Prop building, Rigging, Circus History and Theory. A strong emphasis will be placed on creation and entrepreneurship.
The already vibrant Philadelphia arts community stands to benefit from the presence of Circadium. Moreover, the United States will finally join an international community of contemporary circus schools, teachers, and performers.
Shana and Greg Kennedy’s chief aim in creating Circadium is to train and inspire future generations of circus artists. But the presence of Circadium in Philadelphia adds to the many “firsts” this city is famous for, and will serve as yet another Philadelphia landmark. At the same time, Circadium will help to usher in a renewed interest and commitment to contemporary circus arts in the United States.