On a recent Sunday afternoon, three local girls were hanging from ribbons in the rafters of the Tarrytown Community Opportunity Center, as they often do.
Tori McAdam and Eliza Sandler, both 9 years old, and the aptly named Ariel Pekelis, age 15, gracefully and fearlessly attempt moves like the "cloud" and other suspended feats.
Sweeney's Westchester Circus Arts program, sharing space for a while with the shelter that opened here when many villagers were left by Sandy in the dark and cold, is flourishing in its new space. (The martial arts dojo that recently opened in the center's basement, however, has since closed.)
Sweeny founded WCA with Carlo Pellegrini, who hails from a long career as a professional circus arts with the Royal Lichtenstein Circus. Sweeney has performed around the U.S. and Canada and trained with the likes of Cirque du Soleil and other namebrand groups. She is also the director of aerial and dance for Nyack's Amazing Grace Youth Circus, while Pellegrini is that circus' co-founder.
The new session of classes is well underway. Sweeney says she prefers students register at the beginning of the session, though she does accept rolling admission as space is available. This current session runs 10 weeks until April 7.
"No experience is necessary. In fact, beginners are encouraged," Sweeney said. The girls with her on this day happen to have dance in their backgrounds and have been studying aerial arts with Sweeney elsewhere for two-three years, but students are welcome at any level from the age of 5 on up.
"Classes are customized to the individual, whether you are an adult looking for a fun new way to get in shape, a teen looking for a creative way to express yourself in a non-competitive environment, or a child who wants to fly, climb, and hang upside down," Sweeney said. "We have something for everyone."
Even my four-year-old who, as a visitor, received special "coccoon treatment" in the hanging silks.
New this year: Sweeney will be offering a circus summer camp, which will run in two-week sessions from June 24 to Aug 2. Registration is open now. The school will be hosting open house events beginning in February, so stay tuned on the WCA website.
Class schedule now is as follows:
Tuesdays: Trapeze & Lyra 4-5pm
Wednesdays: Choreography Workshop 6-7pm
Sundays: 1-2pm Beginner Silks, 2-3pm Int/adv silks, 5-6pm Mother/Daughter Silks
Tuesdays: Trapeze & Lyra 5-6pm, Rope 7-8pm
Wednesdays: Begginer Silks 4pm-5pm, Int/Adv Silks 5-6pm, Choreography Workshop 6-7pm
Thursdays: Open Workout
Sundays: Mixed Level Silks 3-4pm
Tuesdays: Trapeze & Lyra 6-7pm, Rope 7-8pm
Wednesdays: Mixed Level Silks 6-7pm
Thursdays: Open Workout
Fridays: Mixed Level Silks 1-2pm
Sundays: 4-5pm Adult Silks
For more information on the Westchester Circus Arts school and their new summer camp, click here.