Author Archives: Max Clabaut

BIPOC Youth Scholarship Fund

BIPOC Youth Scholarship Fund

For Giving Tuesday on December 1, SANCA is asking for donations to support a new scholarship for BIPOC Youth. All donations received on December 1 up to $6,000 will go exclusively to this fund that provides circus classes and training to BIPOC youth in our area.

SANCA is committed to the idea that circus is for everybody. We have given over $2 million worth of scholarships to underserved youth in our communities in our history. Recently, the COVID pandemic has forced SANCA to limit scholarships for the first time ever. But with your help, we can turn that around as we head into the new year.


The BIPOC Youth Scholarship Fund will provide full and partial scholarships to promising young individuals who want to learn and grow in circus. The Fund will provide classes to BIPOC Youth, as well as access to the youth performance troupe, Celestial Circus.

If the Fund is filled to the maximum at $6,000, you will help us provide scholarships to 5-10 BIPOC students for an entire year of circus. Please consider making a gift on December 1 to support this important initiative at SANCA.

Thank you!




“Training at SANCA has helped me improve my circus skills. It has also helped me to make friends who are diverse like me, find amazing coaches, find a place where people are nice to me, and accept me. SANCA is a place that feels like home!”



COVID-19 Fall Closure: Emergency Funds Needed

Dear SANCA community,

I thought I was going to be writing a thank you letter this week —many of our SANCA community have responded with support for SANCA’s Fall Appeal and we were near to meeting our goal. But now COVID cases are spiking and the Governor has issued a one-month closure for SANCA and other training facilities.

This minimum one-month closure is going to cause losses of at least $55,000 for SANCA. We will lose the remainder of our fall and winter-break camp and tuition revenues. Even if SANCA is allowed to reopen by January, we will continue to experience severe enrollment capacity limits for several months to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to hurt our artists, coaches, and families. SANCA has suffered nearly $785,000 in losses this year and could lose hundreds of thousands more as the crisis continues. Our staff are losing their livelihoods from the loss of coaching hours and the cancellation of events and performances.

Please send an urgent gift of $50 or more today.

I just spoke with a worried mother who was concerned about what this new closure will mean for her family if they are unable to continue the circus classes that keep them healthy and engaged during this difficult time of social isolation.

What I CAN promise our families is that SANCA will continue our online and live-streaming classes like Circus with a Stuffy Buddy, Circus Strong fitness and conditioning classes, juggling, handbalancing, and more for our community.

Your gift will support us in this work and help us make it through closure until we can come out on the other side of this pandemic. SANCA will continue to offer a safe space and supportive environment to students of all ages and skill levels, whether online or in person. I hope you will join us by giving what you can to help us continue this challenging and exciting work. We can get through this together.

Your action is needed now. Please, send your gift today.

With gratitude for your support,

John “JT” Tannous
Executive Director

November 15 – Closure Announcement

To Our Beloved SANCA Community:

Governor Inslee announced today that all indoor fitness facilities must shut down, beginning Tuesday, November 17, through December 14. All classes, training, private lessons, and camps will be canceled for the remainder of Fall Session.

Our last day of classes and activities will be tomorrow, Monday, November 16. We will continue online classes during this time. Please visit our website to register for an online class.

If you have paid for classes or lessons that have been canceled, you may request to have your payments transferred to in-house credit to use when SANCA re-opens. You may also elect to donate your class credit back to SANCA to support us during the shutdown, which will put a strain on SANCA’s financial situation. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Please complete this form to tell us if you wish to donate your credit or claim it for future classes.

If you wish to make an additional donation to SANCA during our Fall Appeal, please do so on our website. Thank you for your support of circus for everybody.

Please stay safe out there! SANCA will return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

John Tannous
Executive Director

Board of Directors profile – Beth Baker Board Member

Meet Beth Baker, a Member of SANCA’s Board of Directors   

Beth Baker joined SANCA’s Board of Directors in June 2018. She is a Graphic Design and Marketing Specialist who works with clients on visual design and brand strategies for marketing and promotion. She has a bachelor’s degree of fine arts in graphic design from the Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, New York. Beth flies in the SANCA Flying Trapeze Tent every week with the advanced adult flyers, and takes weekly static trapeze classes.

SANCA: How did you become involved with SANCA?

Beth: I moved to Seattle in 2005 from the East Coast (Upstate NY) and had a desire to get back into the performing arts. Back in high school, I used to dance, do musical theatre, and color guard. I had mentioned to my husband about wanting to get back into a creative activity like that. He came across a two-hour flying trapeze class on Living Social, and thought it might be the perfect fit for me.

SANCA: Was there a challenge or barrier that you faced?

Beth: I’m naturally an introvert. The first few classes I took at SANCA I brought friends with me to make taking fly classes more comfortable. Eventually, I wanted to come to SANCA more and more often, so I was forced to get comfortable talking to other students and attending classes alone, not knowing who might be in my class that day. As time went on and I became a regular flyer, I got to be friends with the other frequent flyers, and we established our own friend group, which always makes the SANCA experience more fun! SANCA helped me become more comfortable with meeting new people.

Flying Trapeze is really about getting out of your comfort zone, embracing the fear, and challenging yourself. Once you finally get comfortable with a trick or skill, you switch it up to learn something new, and go through the whole getting comfortable and confident process all over again. It’s a new experience every single class. I love the work out and mental and physical challenges of wanting to be better at something. The community we have in the fly tent is really encouraging. We push each other to do our best and to do the things that scare us when it comes to flying.

SANCA: How has SANCA impacted your life?

Beth: SANCA has given me so much. A place of common-minded community. A place to better my physical wellness. A place to volunteer to not only better SANCA, but to help better the greater Seattle community.

SANCA: Do you have a favorite circus discipline?

Beth: Flying trapeze! Getting out of safety lines on flying trapeze was a huge achievement for me, as was taking my first advanced trick, a pelicano, out of lines.Also performing in SASS last fall on the high static trapeze bar was a major accomplishment. It was really scary and took a lot of work to feel prepared to perform. Although I had performed in the past this felt different because I pushed myself in my act to try harder tricks, and to perform them higher in the air.

SANCA: What inspired you to serve SANCA’s community as a Board Member?

Beth: After being a student for several years, I became interested in how I could help give back to the community. I saw opportunities where SANCA could grow, and how I could be an advocate for that growth. I thought my skill set as a professional graphic designer in marketing could help expand SANCA’s reach in the broader Puget Sound area. Additionally, I thought I could offer a unique perspective from the view of a student and parent of students.

SANCA: We’re facing challenges now with the COVID-19 pandemic. How has your view of SANCA’s role as an arts organization in Seattle changed or been influenced by this challenge?

Beth: As much as this pandemic has been an extreme challenge for SANCA as an organization, I believe SANCA has made significant strategic moves to ensure SANCA’s survival and eventual re-emergence. I don’t think my view of SANCA has changed much. I think we have always been a shining example of inclusivity and ingenuity, and we continue to be. I also believe our organization has used this time wisely to re-evaluate organizational priorities, with the hope that we will come out the other side of this pandemic stronger financially, more equitable, and as a continued leader in the Seattle arts community.

SANCA: Given the recent incidents of injustice and racism, and long-standing inequities that are profoundly affecting black and brown people right now, do you have thoughts on how the arts in general, and SANCA in particular, can support efforts for justice and equity?

Beth: Education. Listen. Constructive Dialogue. SANCA is doing the work, but we do have a way to go, as do a lot of other organizations. This is not a problem that is going to be solved quickly. Support cannot be just temporary and for appearances. To have justice and equity be sustained long term, it’s how we as an organization respond to and grow from mistakes made by the larger global community, or internally within our own organization.

Interview by Jeff Deveaux, Development Director

Circus in Covid reopenings

Circus is Evolving in the COVID Era with Reopenings and Isolation

7 months into COVID closures we’ve learned how to teach and perform from home, over Zoom and social media, and in some cases it’s made the world smaller — connecting people to those you normally wouldn’t get to work with, or see shows that may not come to your area. We’re all finding our footing as we return to in-person training after breaks and as spaces reopen with various changes to capacity and extra safety precautions. 

Zoppe is back on the road with drive-in circus experiences in California. The whole show is viewable from inside the safety of personal vehicles. Seoul saw their first drive-in circus experiences also in September with a limit of 30 cars per show at the Seoul Street Art Creation Centre

Midnight Circus completed their yearly summer tour of Chicago parks without their tent to allow for more distancing to watch the action in the ring. Nimble Arts produced “Circus in Place,” a two-day outdoor festival last weekend, connecting circus performances to the land, including a narrative about how to read the land as told by a Vermont Land Trust Representative along the walk to the performance spaces. 

We’re starting to see shows with performers back in venues, streaming live video while it’s not yet safe to have audiences in the US. CircEsteem in Chicago live-streamed their gala of acts shot in the school, with all performers wearing masks and following safety protocols in mid-September. We can hope more shows like this will be announced as restrictions are lifted. In the past couple weeks, tours are being announced in countries with lower numbers of infections and performers have been called back to work. 

In other good news during the pandemic, Circus Smirkus ran all summer after having all participating families (60 campers for 5 weeks)  and coaches self-isolate before arrival and following safety precautions until the sealed bubble was certain it was COVID-free. By the later weeks they were able to relax distancing and masks to work on skills many people haven’t been able to since before the pandemic. Another silver lining of that bubble was the formation of the collective Search for Sumatra, a group of circus and theatre artists. They streamed their first production the first week of October and ticket sales were used to fund scholarships for minority students for Smirkus in 2021. The show will be rebroadcast via Circus Talk on October 31st.

article by Christine Denker

SANCA is changing its gym

SANCA is changing its gym.  SANCA has made the decision to reduce our facility footprint to ensure our long-term sustainability and reduce operating overhead both during the pandemic and as we continue the reopening process and reinvent our business after the pandemic. While we will remain in the same location, we are moving out of the North Annex (the space with the Trampolines, tightwires, and more). The equipment in the North Annex will be relocated to the Main Gym and South Annex. SANCA will continue to operate its full slate of programming without interruption (see layout map below).

We will continue to strictly follow all King County guidelines for safe operations during the COVID pandemic. This includes staying well under the maximum number of students permitted in each space. Up to now, we have not come close to matching the maximum occupancy permitted in King County’s current reopen stage. Those guidelines allow us 18 students per bay, but we usually have five students to a bay on average but sometimes as many as ten students.

This move is considered, among staff and Board at SANCA, as a positive. It’s a much-needed reduction of expenses so that we can operate more efficiently in service to our students. During COVID, the reduction in rent cost is really important. The concern that many have had as we have considered this change over the past few months is: will this limit SANCA’s ability to grow once COVID is behind us?

The answer is that SANCA will be able to freely grow even beyond its busiest years prior to the pandemic. If anything, SANCA’s large space has been a luxury. It served its purpose of helping us find different levels of growth. However, it is simply more sustainable and smarter for SANCA to operate a little leaner. All of our budgets and plans for our new layout indicate that SANCA will grow bigger than ever before once we are out of the pandemic. We believe this is the best move to respect the resources SANCA has thanks to our students and many generous donors.

While the move means less physical space, it does not mean less circus. All disciplines of circus will remain at SANCA; we won’t lose any programming. The two best trampolines will move into the Main Gym. The tightwires will move into the South Annex (see map below). The third trampoline will move into the Flying Trapeze tent. Over the next year, we are raising funds to replace the exterior skin of the tent with a new insulated skin that will keep the space warmer and more comfortable in the winter months. That will allow the tent to host aerial, trampoline, and other circus classes when Flying Trapeze is not active. Click here to make a donation to support the Flying Trapeze tent upgrade.

Things will look different, but it will be the same SANCA. After all, the real magic at SANCA is about the people who make circus so joyful and addicting: our dedicated coaches, the phenomenal students, and our hardworking staff.

If you’d like to volunteer to help SANCA move equipment out of the North Annex, we need help on these dates and times:

Monday Nov 2, 10am-2pm
Tuesday Nov 3, 10am-3pm
Wednesday Nov 4, 10am-12noon
Email John Tannous ( if you can help during any of these shifts.

Grant Announcement

SANCA is excited to announce a new grant from ArtsWA and the NEA. We are grateful for their support of circus arts and SANCA, especially during the COVID pandemic.

The Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded SANCA a $3,000 general support grant. This grant will support, in part, continuing Circus at Home online classes for our community in 2020 & 2021.

Into your shoes (from a student experience)

Student Sara Kostetzer- Intermediate Acro-Yoga Online

Partner work is an incredible way to work out, not just because you are using your own body and another person’s body to strengthen your muscles, but you are also learning to build strength in trust and communication through your practice. Sara and her partner Eduardo are perfect examples of two students who have built a beautiful foundation in partnership and have learned to strengthen themselves along the way. Sara says she had always wanted Eduardo to join her in her SANCA classes before the pandemic, but their physical distance from the SANCA gym, and work schedules always made it so difficult to get to the classes they wanted to take. But when the news came to shut down the gym, and quarantine orders were in place Sara and Eduardo found SANCA’s online offerings and the class they had always wanted to try together was now available in their own home. Now, three months later, they adore their online class. They have rearranged their weekly workouts, and business meetings so they can make it on time every time. “This is a class we enjoy so much, not only as a workout, but mostly as a couple. This is a moment to connect, work together, enjoy each other, build trust and more than ever, strengthen our relationship.”

Sara and Eduardo are so fun to have in class and to watch them grow is nothing short of amazing. They started out working on basic foundational skills, and trying new things with a bit of caution, but now they are in the advanced class nailing skills with beautiful grace and strong technique. “We need to get the good out of the bad and surely enough, your class has been a highlight of the times we live in.”

As their instructor, it’s impossible not to be impressed with their unwavering dedication to improving themselves and their relationship. Sara and Eduardo are truly an inspiration and a value to our online SANCA community.

article by Amanda Thornton

Board of Directors profile – Kevin Ruddell, SANCA’s Board President

Meet Kevin Ruddell, SANCA’s Board President

Kevin joined SANCA’s Board of Directors in the fall of 2019, but he and his family have been a part of our SANCA community since our early days. Kevin retired from the world of writing software in 1997 to be an at-home dad. Kevin previously served on the Board of Northwest Girlchoir for seven years, including two years as Board President. He has degrees in Physics and Computer Science. During his twenties, his creative outlet was Modern Dance, and he is pleased to now find artistic expression in circus. Kevin also enjoys photography and took formal and performance photographs for Northwest Girlchoir for many years, and several of his photos from SANCA’s flying trapeze tent have appeared on the SANCA website. Other hobbies include Alpine skiing, open water swimming, martial arts, hiking, travelling, and languages (French, Italian; some Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese; a little Latin, Irish, Japanese, Icelandic, German, Greek, Esperanto).

SANCA: How did you become involved with SANCA?

Kevin: A friend told us about SANCA and we came to the first open house. There, we tried some wire walking and met the friendly people.

SANCA: How has SANCA impacted your life?

Kevin: Our kids did camps and classes for many years, including 6 years of weekly flying trapeze. They developed self-assurance through developing physical skills. My son did a year with the P3 program, which involved a lot of consistent work, culminating in a final performance, of which he was justifiably proud.

After watching my kids’ classes for many years, I signed up for an aerial class in 2013 and gradually began training more intensively, specializing in corde lisse. I have performed several times since, both with SANCA and with other groups. It has given me a means of creative expression which I had been missing for many years. I’ve also taken several trampoline classes and Cyr wheel lessons.

SANCA: Do you have a favorite circus discipline?

Kevin: Corde lisse.

SANCA:  What circus skill have you learned that you’re most proud of?

Kevin: A few years ago, my coach asked me what I wanted to work on. My answer was unclear, but he thought I wanted to work on the hipkey climb, so he demonstrated a beautiful, flowing hipkey climb. This seemed way beyond what I could do then and I was impressed that he thought me capable of such a thing. I studied the video of his demonstration and practiced, and a few weeks later I was able to do a rudimentary form of hipkey climb. This was a milestone for me. It seemed like walking into a wall and passing right through it.

SANCA: What inspired you to serve SANCA’s community as a Board Member?

Kevin: In 2019, Dan Bridge, then Interim Executive Director, asked me to join the Board. Dan and I knew each other from working together years before, so I listened when Dan told me he thought I could be of some help to SANCA. SANCA is a force for good in the community and I was more than happy to see if I could help it develop further.

SANCA: We’re facing challenges now with the COVID-19 pandemic. How has your view of SANCA’s role as an arts organization in Seattle changed or been influenced by this challenge?

Kevin: SANCA has been trying to continue to provide a place where people can experience the joys of circus arts, but it has been really difficult because of the dangers to staff and students from COVID. I’ve been very impressed by the creativity that SANCA has shown in launching the Circus at Home online classes series so that people still have access to their beloved circus classes. Our staff have also gone to tremendous effort to modify the facility so that we can offer limited, socially distant, small classes in our large facility. We’re following King County and the State’s guidelines for Phase 2 re-openings. Many people are anxious because of the pandemic, and SANCA helps by providing an environment for constructive growth for people, which is really good for our mental health.

SANCA: Given the recent incidents of injustice and racism, and long-standing inequities that are profoundly affecting black and brown people right now, do you have thoughts on how the arts in general, and SANCA in particular, can support efforts for justice and equity?

Kevin: Black people have experienced persecution for a very long time in this country, continuing to the present day. SANCA needs to make an environment where Black people feel safe, important, and included at SANCA. Prior to COVID, SANCA had already started new efforts to do this with the formation of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team. It’s led by staff members who are people of color, and they are developing action recommendations for SANCA — including a few that we’re already in the process of implementing, like sharing the stories of our BIPOC staff, students, and artists. We’ll start seeing those stories in the SANCA newsletter and with regular social media postings on Tuesdays.

Interview by Jeff Deveaux, Development Director