Performance Institute of Entertainers


The PIE is a comprehensive 7-month professional training program developed by San Diego Circus Center focusing on preparing the physical actor for the performance and entertainment opportunities of tomorrow. Our program includes rigorous strength training and flexibility conditioning combined with comprehensive physical theatre and professional circus education.

In addition to theatrical instruction focusing on Mask, Mime, Movement, and Clown, students will train in Ensemble Dynamics and Circus Arts culminating in the creation of new performance work for theatre, circus and cabaret.

PIE Program



Daily training in classes and weekly performance showings will aid the student in the creation process. Our approach is drawn from the work of a lineage of moving masters and based in the natural physics of space, motion, action, and gesture. Our training provides students with the best comprehensive physical training applicable to any style of performance.

The goal of PIE is to allow each student the opportunity, under the direction of professional faculty, to craft themselves and their work as they aspire to create the amazing acts, characters and stories for the theatre and circus of tomorrow.

Humanitarian Clowning

PIE will also be offering special opportunities to students interested in site-specific outreach training as Therapeutic Arts Specialists & in Humanitarian Clowning. These training’s will take place in partner institutions within the greater San Diego area.

Jean-Luc Martin

SDCC Director
PIE Founder

Jean-Luc Martin is the founder and President of San Diego Circus Center who has performed with Pickle Family Circus, Circus Knie and three tours with Cirque du Soleil, where he specialized in Teeterboard, Hand Balancing, Hand-to-Hand Adagio, Russian bar, Group Bicycle, Group Juggling & Columns. Jean-Luc studied Commedia dell’arte and bouffon and performed mask and bouffon in several tours.

He has trained with many masters in the circus industry including two years at Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal. Jean-Luc began his own teaching career very early on but formally began teaching circus arts in San Diego in 2008. He teaches a variety of circus disciplines but focuses largely on handstands, hand-to-hand, Teeterboard and Russian bar. In 2012 Jean-Luc founded San Diego Circus Center in order to provide a high-quality training center where he now employs over 15 instructors and the center has become respected internationally. For the past 2 years, he has overseen the clowning courses and is excited about the PIE program.

Dan Griffiths

PIE Founder/Director

Dan Griffiths is an award-winning theatre maker, director, teacher, and the founder of CLOWN LAB SF, ClownZero, and KAPOOT Clown Theatre. He has created and performed original theatrical works in over 45 states and 25 countries since 1988. Dan has performed with the Clown troupe Die Hanswurste, with Chicago’s 500 Clown, and internationally for The Department of Defense Overseas Shows. Dan has taught Clown and Physical Theatre at Dell’Arte International, Clown Conservatory San Francisco, The School for Mime Theater, Columbia College Chicago, Roosevelt University, Indiana University Northwest and Academy of Art University.

Danielle Conover

Director Theatre Explorers
PIE Faculty – Movement/Ensemble Dynamics/Clown

Danielle Conover is a Theatre maker and teaching artist with 10 years of background and experience in original performance work, theatre education and early childhood education. Danielle has worked for and with The SF Mime Troupe, Clown Conservatory SF, Young Conservatory Program at the ACT, New Conservatory Theatre, UCSF Children’s Hospital: Child Life Services, and ClownZero San Francisco: a Humanitarian Clowning Troupe serving communities locally and worldwide. Danielle has a Master of Fine Arts from CIIS in Creative Inquiry and Experimental Performance. She is also a graduate of the Jacques Lecoq physical theatre school in Paris and hold a BA in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College.

Derrick Gilday

PIE Faculty – Movement/Conditioning

Derrick Gilday began his career in 2002 performing in community circuses in San Diego CA and began to fully pursue the Contemporary circus medium from all angles. He has studied Commedia del Arte, clown, buffoon, physical comedy, multiple forms of dance: (modern, ballet, jazz, salsa) and traditional circus skills: (juggling, partner acrobatics, handstands, equilibrium, and stilt dance). Derrick has worked in nearly every aspect of theater on stage and behind the curtain, from the streets of Central America and Europe to special events and theater festivals locally and around the globe

Proud Member of ACE


Proud Member of AYCO