Centre of Gravity West
Centre of Gravity has brought its take on circus training to the west end with the opening of its new facility in the Sterling Road lofts. Its arrival marks the beginning of some healthy trapeze competition, since the lofts already house Cirque-ability, a similar aerial, acrobatic, and fitness facility. But the folks at Centre of Gravity are confident they'll make their mark on the west end, considering the success they've had with their east location, plus the 40-foot loft ceiling they now have at their disposal.
I decide to check out the new digs about a week after the opening, and find myself faced with handfuls of little tumblers who are trying futility to perfect the perfect cartwheel. Don't worry kids--I've never gotten it down. Instructor Kalen Davidson leaves the mats and comes to the tables where a couple of parents have gathered to view, and tells me a bit about Centre of Gravity and its plans for the new space.
"The great thing about here is the ceilings," he says. "You won't find heights like this anywhere in Toronto."
I ask a naive question about harnesses during practice and instruction, and luckily Kalen is polite and doesn't laugh at my very-apparent alarm.
"What we do is develop your strength on the ground," he says. "People who maintain certain lifestyles--those who do yoga, fitness activities--they'll find it's actually pretty easy to transition to some of the activities we offer here."
While the full adult roster for the west Centre of Gravity is still being fine-tuned, Kalen says it will include classes for programs such as aerial arts, flexibility training, and even juggling and clown training. "It will be pretty similar to what we have at the east location," Kalen says.
Classes for kids will run as young as four years old, and circus instruction packages for beginner adults generally run under $200 for 16 classes. The west end facility, like Centre of Gravity East, will also offer open gym from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday for people to drop in and go at for just $5. Subsidization by Circus Without Borders, Kalen tells me, is what keeps the price tag so low.
During our conversation my eye can't help but wander to the back of the gym, where a presumed professional is toying with a suspended gold box frame, pulling at what looks like knotted silks off the bottom. He hoists himself up, and flips from upside-down to on his side, then a variety of other ways that make me nauseous just by watching. Centre of Gravity may be a well-reputed place to first learn how to tackle aerial hoops, but it also strikes me as a great place to catch a quick, informal show.
Writing by Robyn Urback. Photos by Jesse Milns