Staff Profiles Who We Are

Niff Nicholls


"Niff's teaching is very thoughtful and deliberate. So, it's not just circus school. There's a definite philosophy." - Patricia, student


Niff thinks of teaching as an art form of it's own, and because of this philosophy she has become a sought after coach in the American circus community. She began studying circus a decade ago after realizing how empowering and life changing circus is.

In 2006 Niff started teaching aerials at The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, and soon after became the Adult Aerial Coordinator and head coach, as well as Teacher Training Coordinator. Niff spent 5 years developing a teacher training program now recognized and certified by the American Circus Educators Association. In 2014 she started teaching Aerial Dance at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Niff  also is a graduate of The National Circus School's (Ecole Nationale de Circque- in Montreal) Teacher Training program, earning her instructor certification.

Niff has a style all her own, and it is reflected in the creativity and versatility of her students. They are not only inventive and interesting, but smart in the air. 

Niff loves teaching people of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds how to defy their own expectations.  She has taught students from around the globe, and had the opportunity to instruct and learn from the top performers and coaches in the nation. 

Niff started Secret Circus in 2015, after her peers and students asked her to create a place where they could make a community that felt inviting, safe, and fun, while giving exceptional instruction in circus arts.  Her goal is to make a community that sees people for who they are, and what they offer. For people to feel appreciated, and to help each person find a home away from home.

Her future goals include starting an artist in residency program, and a performance company to further the use of circus as art and help develop awareness of circus to all of Philadelphia through a professional circus company with monthly public performances.


  • 10 years aerial teaching expierince
  •  Teaching Certification from The National Circus School Montreal, QC.
  • American Circus Educators Teacher Training program Safely Recognition
  • Instructor of Aerial Dance at The Univeristy of The Arts
  • BFA in Fine Arts from Ringling College of Art and Design