Circus arts training program for students in Sarasota & Manatee counties

Auditions for the 2022/2023 school year will be held during the summer of 2022.

Sailor Circus Academy is America’s oldest youth circus with more than 1 million spectators throughout its history attending annual youth productions known worldwide as “The Greatest ‘Little’ Show on Earth.” Sailor Circus Academy provides after-school circus training in Sarasota, Florida. Students ages 8-18 learn to develop life management skills, gain self-discipline, bolster confidence and a commitment to achievement, all in a circus atmosphere.

Originating in 1949 as a small high school gymnastics class, Sailor Circus has grown into a spectacular circus school that is one of the top in the USA serving students in the 4th through 12th grades. Through extremely rigorous interdisciplinary performing arts and psychomotor skills programs, students learn circus arts in a safe and nurturing atmosphere. Sailor Circus Academy students are recognized as future leaders and major contributors to the circus legacy in Sarasota.

“Being in the Academy has helped me to become more responsible…”

– Morgan McCarthy, Sailor Circus Academy Graduate, 2015 

For more than seven decades, thousands of students have completed the Sailor Circus training program. Each year, students train countless hours per week with dedicated coaches and volunteers to create Sailor Circus Performances that have become a major tourist attraction in the Southwest Florida region.

Sailor Circus Academy students have the unique opportunity to work with international circus artists who travel to Sarasota from around the world to perform with Circus Sarasota. The professional performers deliver workshops and hands-on circus training in various disciplines to the Sailor Circus Academy youth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Sailor Circus Academy?

This is an after-school, circus-arts training program in the Sailor Circus Arena in Sarasota. Students train in a variety of circus arts disciplines learning teamwork, building self confidence and learning life-lessons.

What is the process for my child to participate in Sailor Circus Academy, do they have to audition for the program?

Yes, students must audition to be accepted into the Red Performance Troupe of Sailor Circus Academy. When audition information becomes available for the next season, it will be posted to this page. To receive notifications regarding joining the program please fill out the Sailor Circus Academy Interest Form. Prospective students and their parents will receive an email regarding upcoming procedures to join Sailor Circus when it becomes available. For additional questions email the Sailor Circus Registrar,

What is the after-school schedule for the Sailor Circus Academy?

Student training times vary according to the acts they are learning. 

Is this dangerous?

No. The Circus Arts Conservatory is a professional organization with expertly trained artists, and our coaches are experienced in working with students at all levels. Though the training is rigorous, we evaluate each student’s individual potential and push them only to their limit and ability. Students start on the ground and slowly, one step at a time – and only when they are ready – do they advance. Students are never in an unsafe environment, as they are harnessed or over nets when above ground. We use top of the line gymnastics mats and safety equipment. This is a hands-on training program in a safe environment.

What is the purpose of the Sailor Circus Academy?

Sailor Circus has been serving area families since 1949, and is known as America’s Longest Running Youth Circus.  Our experienced and caring staff and coaching team come from a variety of backgrounds such as retired or working professional circus artists, teachers, early childhood professionals, Sailor Circus alumni, gymnasts and more. One thing that they all have in common is a desire to pass on their love of the Circus Arts to the students engaged at The CAC!

We strive to provide a fun, safe and educational experience through the circus arts.  We know that giving your child the opportunity to learn circus skills is one of the best decisions a parent can make for their child.  Circus Arts teach important life skills such as determination, courage, strength development, flexibility, coordination, self-confidence, team work, discipline – and the list could go on and on….

Will there be a scheduled performance? If so, how can I buy tickets?

There are multiple performances a year. Exact show dates and times are posted in October on the website calendar. 

I would like to volunteer - where can I find more information?

Contact Aaron Watkins at

Where can I download registration forms?

Registration forms are not available online. Please see question 3 above.

Join the Sailor Circus Alumni Group and help us build an all-access network connecting past, present, and future Sailor Circus Academy students

  • Share stories and photos (link)
  • Connect with teammates, coaches, staff, riggers, volunteers and all involved
  • Continue to uphold the Sailor Circus legacy
Sailor Circus Alumni Group Sign-Up
more information
Sailor Circus Alumni e-news