Petaluma School Offers a High Flying Education

Ever dream of running away with the circus? Now you can learn how to contort your body 20 feet in the air (and other fun tricks) without leaving town.


Ever dream of joining the circus when you were a child?

If so, now you can indulge your childhood fantasy with new aerial acrobatics classes offered right here in Petaluma.

On almost any day, you can find a group of students learning how to flip, kick and turn while hanging from 20-foot long silks suspended from the ceiling of the gym, located at 434 Payran Drive. It’s called CirqueFly and has been brought to the North Bay by a former Cirque du Soleil coach and owner of a New York City circus school.

“CirqueFly is an evolution of gymnastics,” says Cypher Zero, the owner of the aerial arts school. “Gymnastics uses apparatus like the beam, parallel bars and rings and this just evolves from that.”

The 35-year-old Zero, who was born Michael Woldow, is the founder of the New York Circus Arts Academy and has trained Cirque du Soleil acrobats at the company’s headquarters in Montreal.

Last year, Zero (yes, that is his legal name) brought his company to California, offering classes in Napa, Petaluma and San Rafael. He plans to expand into Walnut Creek by early next year.

Zero spent a decade touring with European companies, but says there is virtually no market for professional acrobats in the United States. Given the sad state of affairs for would-be circus performers, his goal now is to help people get fit and have a great time in the process.

“This is not your old-fashioned circus nor is it too hip,” he says. “We have people of all ages who come, including six mother-daughter teams.”

The benefits of aerial acrobatics are many, according to Zero, including teamwork, resilience, confidence and focus.

“There aren’t a lot of places where people are simultaneously challenged and supported,” he says.

Cypher Zero’s students echo the sentiment.

“It’s a beautiful art form that helps me build up stamina and flexibility,” says 16-year-old Lucretia King who lives in Mill Valley. “It's a great workout and I do it with my mom.” 

Anastasia Williams, 22, has spent her life dancing and doing acrobatics, but says aerial arts "takes it to another level. These classes make me feel stronger and like I can do anything."

An introductory CirqueFly class is $25. After that, students are asked to sign up for foundations class (4 classes) for $95. For more information, check out cirquefly.com


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