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As the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil and other avant-garde performance troupes, each year Montreal draws thousands of talented performers who come to train and audition in the world capital of circus arts.

Even those who cannot quite literally bend over backwards can get a taste of circus life at the city’s flying trapeze centre.

Trapezium, located in northeast Montreal, offers regular daily classes as well as private lessons in the art of trapeze. Students, protected with a harness and safety net, swing on a trapeze bar from an elevated platform, with the ultimate goal of letting go and being caught by another swinger. As students progress, instructors (who come from gymnastic, diving and cheerleading backgrounds) teach more complicated tricks that can be combined for a complex routine.

Reservations are required for the one- to two-hour classes, held at 7 pm Monday through Friday and 1 pm on Saturday and Sunday. A group session, limited to 10 participants, costs $40 Canadian dollars per person while private instruction starts at $60 Canadian dollars per hour. The Join the Circus package from the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel includes a private lesson at Trapezium, two sets of trapeze-friendly sporting gear and a two-night stay for $720 Canadian dollars through October. Rather watch the circus from the sidelines? Reserve tickets to free shows at La Tohu, the local performing arts space next door to Cirque du Soleil’s headquarters, or mark the calendar for next year’s Montreal Complètement Cirque, the annual circus festival held in July.

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