DSC_5226wOur 9-month professional circus training program is for artists taking their circus training and performance to the next level. The program values collaboration, improvisation, and creativity. As a marketable performer, its important to have a well rounded skill set to meet the needs of the contemporary arts field whether pursuing professional performance opportunities or entrance into a multi-year circus program. Our graduates create visceral works that push the envelope of physicality.

The curriculum provides 27 hours per week of high-caliber training in Circus Arts, Physical Theatre, and Dance.

  • The Actors Gymnasium Summer Circus Intensive is an innovative six-week intensive workshop dedicated to physical performance and act creation. The program offers performers the chance to choreograph their own work. In this way, the Summer Circus Intensive fosters the creative and artistic development of the performers in addition to the development of technical skills. Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi, Dean Evans and area master teachers provide instruction in a variety of circus and performing art disciplines.Aerial Arts skills (static/dance trapeze, silks, lyra, straps, Spanish web/corde lisse, Chinese pole)
  • Ground skills (hand balancing, tumbling, juggling, partner acro, contortion, tightwire, stilt walking, globe)
  • Physical theatre (ensemble building, physical improvisation, devising, flocking, clown work)
  • Dance (ballet, contemporary-based technique, low flying, improvisation, choreography)
  • Fundamentals (stretching and conditioning, pilates, injury prevention, special topics such as Circus History, Rigging, and Career Management)

Tuition includes weekly private lessons, as well as 2-3 hours of open practice time daily. A major and a minor specialty are declared after winter break, and students showcase their work in a capstone performance in June.

Our outstanding faculty are drawn from many of Chicago’s best companies including the Tony-award winning Lookingglass Theatre ensemble and the ground-breaking dance-theatre company, Lucky Plush Productions and include luminaries such as Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi and Molly Brennan.


“I felt drawn toward the ideas of collaboration and doing more than tricks, but using my skills to tell a story. . . It brings me together with a group of other people who want to train and grow in their chosen disciplines. Being around others inspires me to train harder and more seriously.” – Joe Y.

The Actors Gymnasium has been a pioneer in Chicago’s circus-theatre movement since 1995. We have been celebrated for our longstanding collaboration with Lookingglass Theatre, and have won awards for artistic excellence from 3Arts, the Illinois Theatre Association, The City of Evanston and the Joseph Jefferson Committee. Multidisciplinary training is a hallmark of The Actors Gym, and applications are encouraged from those who have additional skills in music, acting, design, original work and more.

View more information on our Program Info, “A Day in the Circus Life” Pro Training Student Blog, Partnerships, Program Faculty, and Submissions Details & Applications.


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