Learn To Fly In South Kensington

August 12, 2013 |  by  |  Buzz  |  , ,

 

Fly Circus Arts trapeze at 5th and Cecil B. Moore | Photo courtesy of Fly School Circus Arts

Fly School Circus Arts trapeze at 5th and Cecil B. Moore | Photo courtesy of Fly School Circus Arts


Fly School Circus Arts
, which trains people to use a flying trapeze, has found a warm weather home in Philadelphia on a vacant lot at Fifth Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue in South Kensington. A century ago the neighborhood was dominated by the massive infrastructure of the Reading Railroad (on a train you could fly, surely) and the sprawling complex of Stetson Hat. The vacant lot being now used by Fly School had been lumber yards and a carpet mill that burned around 2000.

Mary Kelly Rayel, the veteran circus performer who founded the school in 2008, says she was invited to use the lot by new owners who wanted to activate the space. The school is the latest addition to the evolving neighborhood, which has seen the opening of the Brooklyn-based craftmaking school 3rd Ward, St. Benjamin’s Brewery, opening later this year a block up Fifth Street, and significant real estate development on American Street just to the east. “I thought about being in Philly,” says Rayel. “I never thought about being in Kensington, but it’s where I landed and I couldn’t be happier.” She says the response from neighbors worried over the use of the lot has been positive.

Moreover, she’s pleased to be able to reach more people–those who have become aware of the burgeoning world of circus arts and the “plenty of people out there who didn’t even know this kind of thing exists.” The Bucks County-based school has been a mainstay of the 2011 and 2013 versions of the PIFA art festival where Rayel and her staff have introduced some 1,200 people to the thrill of trapeze. During both festivals, the trapeze was located on the South Broad vacant lot now occupied by the PHS pop-up beer garden.

Trapeze, Rayel believes, can be a transformative experience. “Doing flying trapeze challenges your notion of what can and can’t do–and what you can expect of yourself,” she says, noting that the very idea might also be applied to the neighborhood itself.

“Things are really happening here.”

Check Fly School’s website for further information on classes.

About the author

Nathaniel Popkin is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including the forthcoming Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (Temple Press) and a novel, Lion and Leopard (The Head and the Hand Press). He is the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."



Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
A History Of Leadership During Philadelphia's Epidemics

A History Of Leadership During Philadelphia’s Epidemics

July 21, 2017  |  Vantage

Contributor Sam Dunnington examines disease outbreaks in Philadelphia and the individuals that helped the city navigate its most deadly epidemics > more

La Salle University Tears Down Historic Victorian Home

La Salle University Tears Down Historic Victorian Home

July 19, 2017  |  News

Another historic home is demolished by La Salle University for campus expansion > more

Shaping Up And Shipping Out At Philadelphia's First Navy Yard

Shaping Up And Shipping Out At Philadelphia’s First Navy Yard

July 18, 2017  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K sets sail for South Philly where shipbuilding and national defense once defined the Delaware River waterfront > more

Demolition Of Two Neighborhood Sanctuaries Begins

Demolition Of Two Neighborhood Sanctuaries Begins

July 14, 2017  |  News

Two historic churches meet the wrecking ball this week. Michael Bixler reports > more

Marked Potential: Film Exchange Building

Marked Potential: Film Exchange Building

July 12, 2017  |  Marked Potential

Shila Griffith is back with the latest and last edition of her column, Market Potential. In this final piece, Griffith reinvents a vacant, Mid-century Modern landmark near Chinatown as a cooperative cooking space for culinary entrepreneurs > more

Old Mansion Hangs Tough On Chestnut Street

Old Mansion Hangs Tough On Chestnut Street

July 10, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

Rittenhouse Square is full of sturdy, old mansions, but you would be hard-pressed to find one as resilient as this. The Shadow has the lowdown on this tenacious Queen Ann Revival home at 22nd and Chestnut Streets > more