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
The Marvelous Multiple Occupations Of The Midtown II

The Marvelous Multiple Occupations Of The Midtown II

December 11, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

Last June, one of Center City's last classic diners, Midtown II at 11th and Sansom, closed its lunch counter for good. The high-profile property is now under development, although plans for the space remain elusive. The Shadow takes us behind the façade to reveal a lively list of tenants and a colorful history of reuse > more

Secrets! Romance! Scandal! The Hush-Hush Love Of Philly's Paint King And His Irish Lass

Secrets! Romance! Scandal! The Hush-Hush Love Of Philly’s Paint King And His Irish Lass

December 8, 2017  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. takes us to Old City where the flames of a secret affair scorched newspaper headlines in the early 1900s > more

Marc Lamont Hill Energizes Germantown Ave With New Bookstore Cafe

Marc Lamont Hill Energizes Germantown Ave With New Bookstore Cafe

December 6, 2017  |  Vantage

Academic, activist, and political commentator Marc Lamont Hill carries the tradition of the Black-owned bookstore into the 21st century with Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books. John Henry Scott has the details > more

Give $$$, Get a Cool Perk: 2017 Campaign

Give $$$, Get a Cool Perk: 2017 Campaign

December 4, 2017  |  Vantage

Hidden City's annual fund drive is in full swing on Generosity and we've got a brand new batch of perks celebrating Philadelphia available. Here's a look at this year's killer lineup > more

Three Historic Designation Removals Call Procedure Into Question

Three Historic Designation Removals Call Procedure Into Question

November 30, 2017  |  Vantage

Three historic properties on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places were abruptly stripped of legal protection last week. Contributor Starr Herr-Cardillo unpacks the details of each situation > more

Before Digital Sign Domination, A Giant Coffee Pot Reigned Supreme

Before Digital Sign Domination, A Giant Coffee Pot Reigned Supreme

November 29, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow pours us a steamy cup of Center City history with the story behind Ellis Coffee Company's ginormous percolator that once lorded over South 16th Street > more