KAILUA-KONA — When entering Cirque-Hale, look up and you’ll see hanging silks, a lyra hoop, and a stationary trapeze bar suspended from the ceiling. Look closer and you may see an aerial artist climbing up the silk, wrapping it around her legs and striking a pose. Or another artist doing “candy cane” twirls around the trapeze bar — spinning one leg over the other as momentum to get higher and higher. Once at the top, she falls downward, simultaneously unraveling the bar and striking a pose just inches from the floor.
Mind-blowing aerial art like these have become a new and different type of workout in Kona.
“It’s fitness, it’s flexibility, it’s stamina, but it’s also mind games. It’s doing stuff that you don’t think you could do, and taking yourself beyond that,” said Chantel Durelli, owner of Cirque-Hale.
Cirque-Hale is an aerial and “Cirque-Us” studio in Kailua-Kona that offers a variety of aerial, strength and dance classes for people of all ages.
“I’ve started kids as young as three and I’ve seen people in their 60s and 70s,” said Durelli.
Originally from California, Durelli has been an aerial artist for 16 years who performed in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and brought the circus and aerial arts to Kona in 2014 as the director of Yoga Hale. In June of 2015, Cirque-Hale opened, and in July of last year, Durelli branched off and made it her own business. Although both studios are not partners, they do share the same location.
The name Cirque-Us is Durelli’s own creation deriving from the popular entertainment most know of as circus. The only difference? The involvement of animals.
“I basically created the word ‘Cirque’ — which is more like Cirque Du Soleil — which encompasses all people,” said Durelli. “They don’t use any animals, and if they do they’re people in costumes … and I realized too the word ‘us’ is ‘you and me’ — so I combined those two.”
Cirque-Hale offers a variety of aerial type classes such as aerial silks, lyra hoop, stationary trapeze and trifecta, which is a combination of all three. Hula, tai-chi, aerial yoga, cirque kids and keiki silks are also in the mix.
Mother-daughter duo, Mary Lee and Andie Freeman, — of Long Beach, California — have been aerial artists for many years. Mary’s love for it inspired her to start her own studio in Southern California. The Freemans live in Kona a few months out of the year and have been taking classes at Cirque-Hale for the past two years.
“Aerial arts is for all ages, all body sizes and all body types,” Mary said. “My concentration has been on physical fitness and the joy of looking beautiful while doing it. It’s very different from going to the gym.”
Andie enjoys that she gets to try different apparatuses while in Kona such as in the trifecta class.
“Back home I don’t do trapeze,” she said, “being able to come here is just an extra little treat for something I get to work on and progress specifically at this studio.”
“It’s so much fun. It’s so much different than anything you’ve ever done, it’s a full body workout, you get stronger each class,” added Mary.
Stephanie Franke is a student turned instructor at Cirque-Hale who began taking Cirque-Us classes three years ago. She is now a keiki silks and adult silks instructor.
“I actually wasn’t planning on becoming an instructor, it wasn’t my goal … but I fell in love with the sport and I wanted to share it with other people, especially the kids,” Franke said.
“I’ve learned teaching that you’re not limited by your strength, how fit you are, your weight, how flexible you are … that any body type, any person can really grow and achieve this sport,” she added.
Besides weekly classes that run about an hour, Cirque-Hale also features a Green Flash Coffee pop-up shop, an upstairs lounge and “Hale Healers,” which includes an acupuncturist, massage therapist, tattoo artist and a holistic esthetician. They also host special events like Ecstatic dance- free dance with no talking, Zouk- Brazilian salsa dance, Dating Night, and Lil’ Tricksters — for kids ages 7-14 — movie nights and summer camps.
“I think a lot of people here think that either they’re surfers, paddlers, or they work out in the gym and that’s it. This gives people another outlet,” said Durelli. “It’s also an art form, not just a workout form. I want to make my community healthier and I also feel that when you go past things that you feel like are limitations, it opens up a whole new world to you… you realize that if I can do this, I really can do almost anything I want.”
Cirque-Hale is located at 74-5583 Luhia St. Kailua-Kona, 96740. Info: www.cirquehale.com