A Port Richmond balancing act

Rebel Circus Arts gym offers space for movement community in Philly.

Flipping out: Acrobatics seemingly defying gravity are a common sight at Rebel Circus Arts in Port Richmond.

By Christopher Seamans

Have you ever wished you could leave gravity behind? Walk a tightrope? Run away with the circus?

At Port Richmond’s Rebel Circus Arts, you can!

The gym, which has been around in its current form for about eight months, grew out of Philadelphia’s growing “movement community,” a collection of dancers, acrobats and yogis that pools its knowledge and resources.

“A couple teachers got together to create this space. They became acroyoga instructors and then we all were looking for a place to play together,” said Eric Mamuzich, one of the partners in the gym. “We made some bonds, made some friendships and stayed in touch. We played together and basically put our brains and our wallets together and came up with this place.”

Play. That’s a word the staff at Rebel Circus Arts uses a lot.

Even though the training is careful, structured and safe, part of the goal is to capture the spontaneity and playfulness of childhood.

Rebel Circus Arts offers classes for all levels, from beginner to expert, as well as open gym periods and access to a community willing to help each other. Getting involved is a snap.

“It’s so easy. All you do is show up. You don’t even have to have a partner,” said Julia Reeves, who teaches foundational skills during beginner’s classes. “No prior knowledge, no prior experience. You don’t even have to have done yoga before you try to do acroyoga.”

“All you have to have is a willingness to walk in the door and want to play. A lot of people look at this stuff and say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that,’ but I think it’s really a matter of proper coaching. If you don’t have the knowledge you need, you may not be able to do it, but here we break it down into a really digestible form to give to you.”

Even with limited experience, Port Richmond resident and student Kelsey Sherman was able to hit the ground running.

“I came to the Saturday beginner’s class and it was a lot of fun,” she said. “It was all counterbalance acro moves, which were really cool and different from the little bits of acro that I’d done it the past. It was really accessible even for anyone who hasn’t done any acro at all. There were two people who that was the first time they ever did acro.”

Rebel Circus Arts, 2850 Chatham St., holds beginner’s acroyoga classes on Monday nights from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. with an open gym from 7:30 to 10 p.m., and Saturday mornings, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. with an open gym from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The drop-in fee is $18. Visit rebelcircusartsphilly.com for information on other classes and events.