Local circus professionals and hobbyists balance inside German wheels, juggle clubs and could soon be twirling and shifting in the air from silks hanging from the ceiling.
The Madison Circus Space is open after years of conversation within the Madison circus community about the need for a facility that brings together each individual club of athletes .
“It was always a dream to go practice and rehearse and to be able to be around other people who are doing similar things,” said Josh Casey, a member of the MCS board of directors and a professional juggler.
The creative, communal space, located at 2100 Winnebago St., will serve as a place for current circus performers and clubs to practice and gather, as well as a means for professionals to teach classes and for local residents to explore the circus arts.
MCS will offer its first glimpse into that world at an open house Saturday.
At the open house, the public will be able to see what classes and clubs are available, watch circus arts demonstrations and even take a stab at German wheeling, hooping and juggling.
“We want this to be a community center for circus arts, with affordable prices and places for clubs and individuals to meet and practice,” said Luke Emery, president of the board of directors and an amateur juggler.
The space, formerly an old car dealership, was found by Emery and Carly Schuna, board of directors secretary and a German wheel instructor.
“There are not a ton of places like this,” Schuna said, describing the 4,500-square-foot interior, 22-foot-high ceilings and flat, level floor.
The space would do after a few modifications were made. Additional bathrooms and exits were installed, the electrical system was re-wired and, most noticeably, the concrete floor has been transformed into a floating, wooden floor to accommodate each circus art.
“It’s gone from a very grungy, industrial, dirt-covered, greasy car garage into a bright, exciting circus space,” Emery said.
The Madison Circus Space currently offers a German wheel class taught by Schuna on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 7. The cost is $100 for six 90-minute classes. A German wheel is a giant wheel that allows a person to roll inside it and do cartwheels and other gymnastics.
Casey said they are “rolling things out slowly” and expect to add a juggling class next and an acroyoga class after that.
The facility also offers monthly Circus Samplers, where patrons can come for a one-day class and be exposed to different circus activities and clubs. Costs of the classes are set by individual instructors, and the price for the sampler has yet to be decided.