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Circus School Moves Into 109-Year-Old Logan Square Church

For the last eight years, Aloft Circus Arts has been training amateur and professional circus artists in aerial and earth-bound acrobatics from a rented loft in a West Side industrial warehouse.

And in those eight years, Aloft has grown into one of the largest and most renowned circus schools in the United States, drawing 250 students per week.

Now, with the purchase of a 109-year-old church in Logan Square, Aloft is poised to put down roots that will allow it to launch a new phase of growth.

Classes for adults and - for the first time in Aloft's history - children begin Tuesday, September 6th.

"When our landlords told us they wouldn't be renewing our lease, I was really scared for the future of circus arts in Chicago," says Aloft's founder Shayna Swanson, an internationally acclaimed performer with more than 20 years of circus experience.

Swanson founded Aloft in 2005 in a small Humboldt Park garage. Since moving from the garage to a Fulton Street loft, the studio has expanded to include circus arts classes for adults at all levels of fitness and skill, as well as a rigorous and selective professional training program and a performing company. Aloft teachers are veterans of Cirque du Soleil and myriad other world-class troupes.

Aloft's monthly El Circo Cheapo showcase performances routinely sell out, and in 2014 Aloft helped host the first-ever Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival.

But last summer all they'd accomplished seemed in jeopardy - until Swanson found the former First Evangelical Church at the corner of Kimball and Wrightwood.

"As soon as I walked in, I knew we had to move there," she says. "I'm really proud of the fact that a small arts organization was able to purchase this beautiful building and keep it active in the community."

Now, after a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised $60,000 to go towards a state-of-the-art rigging system, the church is set to become Chicago's permanent home for contemporary circus.

Interest in contemporary circus is booming in the U.S., and across the globe. Aloft's classes are small and taught in a progressive manner, allowing students with no previous experience in circus or acrobatics to master challenging physical skills and experience the excitement of this joyful art form, which has been proven to boost self-esteem and fitness in both children and adults.

Classes begin for all ages September 6th in trapeze, aerial silks, pole, trampoline, hand-balancing, clowning, acrobatics, and more, including circus-based fitness classes.

Aloft will offer 90-minute taster classes ($10) from August 29th to September 4th, giving people an opportunity to try out different classes before they enroll in an eight-week session. Taster classes are for students 18 years and older. Children will be permitted to take a free test class during our regularly scheduled class sessions.

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The crowdfunding video:

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About Aloft Circus Arts
Aloft is a Chicago-based physical performance company dedicated to telling original stories through world-class circus arts. Aloft combines visual art, urban space, physical movement, modern dance and aerial performance to build a cohesive emotional tale.

Animal-free and accessible for all audiences, Aloft Circus Arts is at the forefront of what modern circus is growing into, pushing the limits and leaving old ideas of "circus" in the dust.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on August 4, 2016


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