Inside Denver’s “Circus Collective”

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Story By: Holly Murphy

Ariana Gradow and Peter Holben, founders of Circus Collective, provide a unique experience and venue for ecstatic dance, yoga, aerial silks, strength training, fitness and movement. Recently they moved to a new location and we want to give you an inside look.

What inspired you to create this type of community?

Peter and I share the love of movement and we wanted to create a safe space for people to explore those modalities within the city of Denver. We hoped it would become a place for people to connect authentically with other like-minded people. I find the number one reason for depression in our society is people feel alone and unsupported.  They typically use alcohol as a crutch to relate to others in social settings. We wanted Circus Collective to encourage the community to be themselves, in a sober environment, that celebrates their individual uniqueness and creativity. Movement allows people to connect more deeply with themselves, get out of their minds and into their hearts; which in turn enables deeper connection with others. At its core, DANCING just brings people JOY!

Tell us about your mission, who you are, and how this thriving community got started?

For the last two years, at our former location, we tied art into everything; our mission was " to build community through movement and art." We are still incorporating visual art at the new location, but we are focusing more on dance, circus and movement art. 

Our new mission statement is "to help people better serve the world and themselves through the incredible power of movement art and a supportive community. "

What has been the most rewarding part of creating Circus Collective?

The most rewarding part by far has been the community that we have built, and the incredible people that have come into our lives through this business. There is nothing more profound than hearing someone say that Circus Collective has given them a family or a purpose. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced, and how has your community supported your success?

Where do I begin? Peter and I started out in the old location sharing the space with another business and the first challenges came from learning how to respectfully and efficiently co-operate in one building. We each had very different missions and it was difficult to keep clients when disruptions arose. 

The second challenge came when our former co-tenants decided to move out of the location. Although sharing the space wasn't easy, it was extremely helpful in terms of our rent. After they vacated, our overhead was unaffordable. 

Additionally, the city claimed the former space needed to be upgraded to a higher code standard. Between unsustainable rent and the city asking up to upgrade, it just made sense to move. The move has been challenging but with so many members of the tribe showing up to help, it made me so grateful for the work we have put into keeping this vision alive. 

What is Circus Collective and how people can get involved?

We are an amazing, multi-faceted community! From circus classes to Ecstatic Dance we have something for everyone, and welcome everyone with open arms. Attending any of our classes or coming to Ecstatic Dance (Sundays @ 10am) are the best ways to meet our community! We also have a ton of mind-body connection workshops coming up, including 4 dance and body awareness workshops in April and May. The details can be found on our Facebook Page.

We have seen a ton of events happening in your space.  Are all of these events hosted by Circus Collective, or do you also rent the space out?

It's a mix of both - we support our community by providing space for various events. We also have a blast hosting our own events!

Your space always has such beautiful artwork, are these artists from your community, or do you change the art every month?

We work with the community to find local artists to showcase, but we have had several out-of-town artists as well. The art typically changes monthly.

In our new space, our focus is much more on movement art, rather than canvas art. However, we already have a ton of amazing local artists working on Murals in the new space!

As your community continues to grow, what are you looking forward to in the next year? 

Growing into our new space, expanding our class offerings and welcoming new members into our community! We are really excited to see how we can use the new location and all the outdoor space to grow and provide more fun for the community. We have also just launched a kids and teens summer camp and teen aerial program. 

We are looking forward to helping our community to perform more and hopefully start more regular circus shows too!

Where do you see Circus Collective in the next 5 years? 

We see us being the go-to circus training facility for Denver, where one can get a unique mix of professional training and a supportive community.

Your community helped you move to the new location.  Where is The Collective located now, and will anything change with this move?

We're now located at 4459 Jason St - in an AMAZING building that is perfect for our needs! We will be phasing out our gallery space in order to focus more on our community and circus fitness.

What upcoming classes and events are happening?

Our first 4 week Summer Session kicks off on May 6th - you can drop in to any class for the first 2 weeks - it's the perfect way to find a new passion! We're also very excited to host aerial Youth Summer Camps this summer.

Anything else you would like to share with us about Circus Collective, your community, or your story?

Circus will save the world. Come and see why and for yourself!

Links to products and classes: Summer sessions  for Summer Session info and enrollment  Authentic Embodiment: Connecting With Inner Knowing  RootFlute Cacao Lucid Meditation Denver 5.24 and ecstatic dance