Executive Director Job Search

Dear friends of SANCA,

Good news!  The ED job search posting was released on October 1st.  Now we need to get the word out!  Please take a few minutes to pass the posting (link below) on to anyone in your network that may be interested or able to forward the announcement on to others. Applications for the position will close October 31st.

website: https://sancaseattle.org/about/who-we-are/join-us/

Thanks for your continued support,


SASS – SANCA’s Annual Showcase Spectacular!

November 15-17 at Broadway Performance Hall


Every year SANCA presents a showcase of unique circus performances featuring students, alumni, staff, and friends. This showcase is one weekend only: we hold four shows, each featuring a different line up of spectacular local and internationally renowned circus performers alongside SANCA’s tremendously talented student performers.

SANCAs Annual Showcase Spectacular (SASS) is a community showcase of all the hard work it takes to create new acts. Our students and staff spend months developing skills, and focused rehearsals in all of September work-shopping performances in perpetration for the Showcase. Audiences will be treated to daring displays of acrobatics, high-flying aerials, juggling, and much more!

Friday evening, and the Saturday & Sunday matinee community shows have advance ticket prices of $18 Adult & $12 Youth 17 and under. Door prices are $20 Adult and $15 Youth 17 and under. Performers will include SANCA’s own Youth Performance Companies Cirrus Circus, Nimbus Circus, and Stratus Circus, along with members of our staff, students, & alumni, and guest performers.

ONE EVENING ONLY — The Saturday evening show is a dedicated fundraiser to help support all of SANCA’s programs, including youth programming and youth scholarships.

Saturday night will feature exclusive guest artists in addition to SANCA’s Youth Performance and Social Circus Troupes. Look for appearances by Terry Crane, Acrobatic Conundrum, aerialist Vivian Tam, and other special guests!

Ticket prices for Saturday night are $30 Adult & $15 Youth 17 and under.

Tickets available at sass2019.brownpapertickets.com

Friday evening:
Chrysalis Circus (Mari Sharpe, Gabby Leiva) – Lollipop
George Howard & Sarah McWilliams – Duo Trapeze
Tania Nambo-Escobar – Aerial Rope
Radical Acrobatical (Laura K. Sposato, Maria Mork) – Partner Acro
Missy Nagin – Lyra
Stratus Circus – Rolling Globe/Contortion
Duo TomKat – Duo Trapeze
Morrison Helton – Aerial Sling
Rolling Blunder (Raymi Dyskant, Jessa Gardner, Ali Riddering, Fiona Ryan, Kimberly Wood, Sara Haverkamp) – German Wheel
Julaine Hall – Aerial Rope
Thomas Alexander & Kyla Helgeland Alexander – Partner Acro
Beth Baker – Static Trapeze
Ava Drummond – Diabolo
Cirrus Circus – Aerial Fabric
Laura Sposato – Tap Dance
Duo Haute Mess – Duo Rope

Saturday Matinee:
Cirrus Circus – Acro
Brian Crawford – Static Trapeze
John Spinosa – Unicycle & juggling Extravangza
Amber Parker – Rolla Bolla
Ashlei Mayo – Lyra
Beth Heritage * Amyanne Hartstone – Tumbling
Acrobatic Conundrum (Terry Crane & Melissa Knowles) – Partner Acro
Jasmine Manuel – Aerial Fabric
Mari Sharpe – Lyra
Leila Magnolia – LED Fans & Hoops
Nimbus Circus – Aerial Fabric
Tara Adams – Contact Juggling
John Kennedy – Aerial Straps
Leslie Rosen – Puppy Tricks!
Duo Avocado (Alyssa Hellrung & Ava Vermilya) – Duo Trapeze

Saturday Evening:
Duo Straight Up (Nick Lowery & Rachel Randall) – Chinese Pole
Youth Contortion (Lead by Gunnar Field) – Contortion
Cirrus Circus – Juggling
Kevin Ruddell – Aerial Rope
Adrian Hillyer & Jessie Wellington – Partner Acro
Jacob Hall – Aerial Fabric
Stratus Circus – Mini Tramp
Celestial Circus (lead by Manjit Golden) – Ground Acrobatics
Nimbus Circus – Block
Emma Curtiss – Cyr Wheel
Vertical Axis (Amanda Thornton & Nick Perry) – Duo Trapeze
Robert Howells – Juggling
John Spinosa – Stupid Unicycle Tricks
Julaine Hall – Handstands
Vivian Tam – Aerial Fabric
Transformational Women’s Circus (Missy Nagin, Ecco Kaos, Elizabeth Kempkes, Katrina Hayes, Lauren Musladin, Sarah Hess, Greta Summers) – Single-point Trapeze
Acrobatic Conundrum – 3 Ropes

Sunday Matinee:
Julaine Hall – Chinese Pole
Devin Helton & Leah Noble – Partner Acro
Duo Tomato (Alyssa & Avery Hellrung) – Duo Trapeze
Sara Haverkamp – German Wheel
Kyla Helgeland Alexander – Aerial Rope
Kaitlin Lindburg & Ellie Patel – Tumbling
Sarah Stanley – Lyra
AYCO Group Act – Ground Acrobatics
Cirrus Circus – Juggling
Kaitlin Lindburg & Rachel Mansour – Aerial Fabric
Rose Prevo & Lola Rosenblum – Duo Trapeze
Elizabeth Young – Lyra
Nimbus Circus – Unicycle
Emma Cady – Aerial Fabric
Cirrus Circus – Dance
Emma Curtiss – Yellow Submarine

SANCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Tax ID 20-0300045. We are the only non-profit circus school in Seattle. All contributions support community programs and youth scholarships.

Glam Rock! Flying Trapeze Shows

SANCA School of Flight proudly presents Glam Rock! Our flying trapeze students will rock out to sick tunes and throw even sicker tricks. They may be doctors, lawyers, tech workers, or students by day, but they’ll transform into high-flying acrobats on Saturday, October 5th! We are raising funds to help support your favorite Seattle non-profit circus school and all of the programs that empower people of all ages!

Come for the show and stay all day! Glam Rock offers fun for all ages with games, food, and even a beer garden for the 21+ crowd. Gates open at 12 Noon. Flying trapeze shows happen every hour on the hour from 1:00 p.m. to 5 p.m. with a rotating cast of flyers.

The Fly Shows are by suggested donation at the door, and have limited seating for each show. Please reserve your show time at Brown Paper Tickets. Contributions are welcomed at the time of reservation, or when you arrive at the door and throughout the event.




A Message from the Board of Directors

To all SANCA Staff, Students, and Supporters:

Kristina Wicke has stepped down as Executive Director of SANCA to focus on family life, following the recent passing of her mother.

On behalf of SANCA’s Board of Directors, we are saddened at her departure, and want to thank Kristina for her dedication and leadership. As SANCA Executive Director (ED) for the two and one-half years, she worked tirelessly to advocate for circus as an art form locally, nationally, and internationally. During her tenure she strengthened SANCA’s partnership with Cirque du Soleil – including hosting two-week national Social Circus trainings taught by Cirque professionals at SANCA – that set the stage for further trainings and collaborations. Kristina also helped forge new relationships with Kaiser Permanente and the Special Olympics, and led a team of SANCA’s Social Circus coaches at the 2017 Circus Folk Arts Festival on the National Mall. Before that, she served as a dedicated Board member, volunteer, and leader. Kristina is working with the SANCA Board of Directors to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.

The Board decided to engage an Interim ED, someone who will assist in the search for a permanent ED and who will help us prepare SANCA for that new leadership. We interviewed several excellent candidates for an Interim ED, and one has been chosen. It is my pleasure to welcome Dan Bridge as the Interim ED of SANCA.

Dan will:
• Supervise staff and building operations to ensure that SANCA maintains its daily activities and good work.
• Help staff and Board assess and strengthen organizational structures and processes.
• Work with stakeholders to finalize a strategic plan.
• Advise and participate in the process of hiring a permanent ED.

The Board has hired Dan solely on an interim basis; he will not be a candidate for the permanent position. The permanent ED search will include the creation of a search committee and will involve a national call for applicants. Board, staff, and the SANCA community will be represented in the process, one expected to take several months.

Dan has strong experience in leading organizations in similar transition. He served as the Interim ED of Seattle Audubon Society, Eastside Baby Corner, Hearing Speech & Deaf Center, Austin Foundation, and Northwest Girlchoir. In addition, he was the long-time Executive Director/Rabbi at Hillel, Foundation for Jewish Life, at the University of Washington.

His education includes both a BA and a BS from the University of Washington and an MHL and Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew Union College. Not only all of that, but Dan is a SANCA student!

Although his start date is May 1, 2019, Dan is already beginning to meet with staff and community members. We hope you will be able to meet him soon – we are counting on your engagement to help move SANCA into the future we all welcome.


Bruce A. Ritzen, SANCA Board President

Decades: A Circus Story Lost in Time

When a mysterious package is delivered to 470 Scenicview Drive, spring break 2019 doesn’t stop for the house full of teens. It’s not until two of them discover that this package is not ordinary but extraordinary that things start getting a little unusual. Journey with Cirrus Circus as two friends romp through Medieval England, Golden Gate Park in the Summer of Love, a run-down speakeasy in the 1920s, and more! Energetic, playful and spirited, Decades is a captivating voyage of discovery that showcases a variety of acrobatics and circus arts in surprising twists and turns.

The latest full-length performance from Cirrus Circus will feature original numbers on Unicycle, Tight Wire, Acrobatics, Duo Static Trapeze, Contortion, Juggling, Chinese Pole, Dance, Lyra and Cyr Wheel, Aerial Straps, Hoop Diving and Aerial Sling.

Shows are at Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, Seattle
April 5th at 7pm; April 6th at 3 or 7pm; April 7th at 3pm
Tickets at https://cirruscircus2019.brownpapertickets.com

Cirrus Circus is the teen performance troupe at the School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts (SANCA). They are known throughout Seattle as one of the most accomplished youth circus groups in the region. The troupe is in demand locally, performing at many of Seattles popular festivals and events, including Moisture Festival, Seattle Centers Winterfest, the Georgetown Carnival, and more. In July 2014, Cirrus Circus had the honor of performing internationally at the London International Youth Circus Festival in England, at No Fit State in Cardiff, Wales and Island Circus in Sylt, Germany.

Circus Fun without Funds for Furloughed Friends

Press Release
January 22nd, 2019

Circus Fun without Funds for Furloughed Friends

SEATTLE, WA – The School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts (SANCA) is pleased to announce the opportunity for Federal Employees to enroll at no cost in a SANCA Winter Session class. A furloughed federal employee and/or an immediate family member(s) may enroll in classes with space available, provided any class-specific pre-requisites are met.

SANCA provides quality instruction in unique physical arts in a safe, supportive, nurturing environment that provides both challenge and reward to the student. We offer classes for kids of ALL ages, from 2-adult. Circus Arts include acrobatics, trampoline, juggling, tumbling, unicycle, tightwire, aerial arts, and rolling globe balancing.

SANCA will waive the enrollment costs (tuition and registration fee) for these Winter Session classes. We will extend our enrollment period for furloughed employees and their families until February 2nd at 5pm. This offer is for students not yet enrolled in our Winter Session. Enrollment in our one-time Intro to Circus classes and weekly Winter Session classes is available, but you must sign up by February 2nd. Flying Trapeze classes are excluded.

Visit our class schedule https://www.sancaseattle.org/classes/ to see which classes are not yet full, and then call our front office at 206-652-4433 to enroll. On the first day of class please bring your Federal Employee ID or furlough notice and state ID with you to SANCA. Waivers must be completed prior to class for all students: https://sancaseattle.org/classes/waiver-student-information-form/

This a first come first serve opportunity

SANCA is the largest circus school in the United States, recognized nationally as a leader in youth circus arts education, safety, and instructor training. The school is located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle, an area with limited access to arts and cultural opportunities, especially for children. Founded in 2004 with five students, more than 1,000 students now take classes at SANCA every week.

SANCA offers experiences that are physically challenging, socially enriching, and teach physical literacy to people of all ages. SANCA’s services to the community include recreational classes and day camps to provide youth with a safe, social, constructive environment for physical arts. Our programs broaden community engagement, reach diverse audiences, and encourage participation in the arts. SANCA’s programs for youth reach those with the least access and opportunity to participate in healthy, creative, physical activities.

SANCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Established in the heart of Georgetown in 2004, we serve youth and families with a highly innovative array of circus programs. SANCA’s mission is to improve the mental, emotional, and physical health of children of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities by engaging them in the joyous creativity of acrobatics and circus arts.

674 S. Orcas St. Seattle, WA 98108 206-652-4433 www.sancaseattle.org office@sancaseattle.org

Meet the new coaches of the Transformational Women’s Circus

As we close in on the new year, our social circus staff have been hard at work creating a new curriculum for the Transformational Women’s Circus! Transformational Women’s Circus (TWC) is an integrative social circus program which incorporates circus arts, drama therapy and therapeutic group process to support the personal growth of students who wish to explore their physical and mental health in a supportive, creative, safe group environment. Students in the TWC program will meet for 21 classes, once a week for three hours over a 24 week period and engage in trauma informed group work and circus arts training, with a creative culminating event at the end of the quarter. TWC is rooted in social circus and focuses on self awareness, self esteem building, creative expression, and exploring personal story.
For TWC 2019, creator and lead facilitator Amber Parker is working with new TWC staff to plan for creative, expressive, and fun new activities for the group, such as mask making, mixed media collage, clowning, and yoga flow. Please meet our TWC staff, all of whom are excited to start making magic in the new year!
Sarah Wells: Stage Manager, Arts Facilitator 

Sarah Wells-Ikeda is a creatrix, community-builder, and connecting force. Her passionate pursuit of life and learning has recently landed her in Seattle after a decade in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was initially introduced to circus and clown during her years with the neo-vaudevillian trickster brigade Fou Fou Ha! Born into the world deeply connected to nature and spirit, Sarah has chased her dreams and passions to create an ever-unfolding life full of meaning and magic. She holds a M.A. from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology focused on women’s connection to spirituality through the body, with a specialization in creative expression.

She is deeply excited to expand her life’s work and service through the social circus coaching role at SANCA, and as the production manager and creative co-facilitator of the Transformational Women’s Circus. She believes in the inherent power of women and girls, connected to source through our bodies, lived experiences and inner wisdom. She looks forward to supporting the TWC through forging meaningful connections, imbuing life with the sacred, facilitating play as spiritual practice, and leading a vast array of creative expression modalities, helping the participants to identify strengths, build community, and thrive.  

Emma Curtiss: Circus Coach, Body Worker 

Emma Curtis discovered Circus in 2009 after seeing a moving performance by two local trapeze artists. Inspired by their emotional performance, she felt compelled to explore the world of circus, despite the fact that she was not a physical person at the time. Over the next few years she discovered pieces of herself that had been hidden for most of her life and through constant physical and emotional challenges, emerged with the renewed purpose that performing and teaching Circus was her true calling. She has performed with various companies and developed her own performance troupe, IMPulse Circus Collective, where she was able to develop shows with like-minded artists who shared her passion for creation. Currently she is a coach at SANCA where she continues to groom new skills and projects for herself as well as her students. Her disciplines include Aerial Silks, Aerial Hoop, Cyr Wheel, Fan Juggling and a general enthusiasm for all things Circus.

Amber Parker: Lead Facilitator, Group Therapist 

Amber Parker is SANCA’s Social Circus Clinical Coordinator and the creator and lead facilitator for the Transformational Women’s Circus Project. Amber is a therapeutic circus coach and circus artist at The School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, a Master’s in Couple and Family Therapy Candidate and Master’s in Drama Therapy, and she is currently a clinician with the Child, Youth and Family program at Navos, a community mental health agency based in Southwest King County. Amber specializes in working with women and children in recovery from trauma and is currently adapting social circus as a trauma informed creative arts therapy for adults through the Transformational Women’s Circus Project. Amber has presented her work at the 2016 American Circus Educators Conference, at The Smithsonian’s 2017 Folk Life Festival, and has been published in American Circus Educators Magazine and Seattle Magazine. Amber has over 14 years of experience as a counselor, facilitator, and trauma worker, and she has advanced training and education in Motivational Interviewing, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Child Centered Play Therapy, Drama Therapy, Psychodrama, and Clinical Psychotherapy.

SANCAFEST Spotlight: Beth Baker

When it comes to being a top banana in SANCAFEST, SANCA’s new Board Member and longtime student, Beth Baker, sure knows a thing or two! She has been a student since the very early days in the fly tent, and Beth is consistently one of our top SANCAFEST participants, raising $1,000 every year for the youth scholarship fund.

I feel that my success in fundraising is due to persistence. I post on Facebook often, and give my Facebook friends and family interesting tidbits about where and how their donations help at SANCA. I like to send out reminder emails as well. I target those who have donated in previous years, and also try to expand my email list with new possible donors every year. If it is coming down to the wire, a simple giveaway, like a favorite recipe, can help. It can aid in making the decision for those donors on the fence. Lastly, posting fun videos, GIFs, or pictures periodically, with your donation link, show your Facebook community what you do at SANCA and gives them an idea of what they are helping support. Personalization is key!

Beth, do you remember how you first heard about SANCA?

On Living Social actually, back when that was popular. I moved to the Seattle area, from upstate New York, in the summer of 2005 after my husband and I had both graduated college. I didn’t know anyone out here, and most of my new coworkers were much older than I was, so it wasn’t easy to make friends.

Back in high school, I used to dance, do musical theatre, and color guard. I had mentioned to my husband about wanting to get back into a creative activity like that. He came across a two-hour flying trapeze class on Living Social, and thought it might be the perfect fit for me. I brought a friend with me to my first class, but she got too freaked out to try it. She did the warm up but wouldn’t climb up to the platform. I was scared to death the whole time, but pushed myself, thought it was fun, and couldn’t wait to try it again.

It was about six months later when I returned with a different friend, and she loved it as much as I did. We came back together monthly until we got into harder tricks, and then started coming twice a month because we needed more practice.

Eventually, she couldn’t come as often, so I had to step out of my comfort zone enough to say, ‘Ok, I love doing this, I’m just going to come by myself,’ and slowly started meeting people in the tent and making friends with other regular flyers.

Then I began taking classes inside, starting with trampoline class, which I totally hated. After that, I found the aerial program and took classes with Coach Alyssa for static trapeze, and I’ve been doing that for about six years (minus two hiatuses to have my kids).

What is it you like about flying?

Flying Trapeze is really about getting out of your comfort zone, embracing the fear, and challenging yourself. Once you finally get comfortable with a trick or skill, you switch it up to learn something new, and have to go through the whole getting comfortable and confident process all over again. It’s a new experience every single class.

I’ve never been an athletic person. I love the work out and mental and physical challenges of wanting to be better at something. The community we have in the fly tent is really encouraging. We push each other to do our best and to do the things that scare us when it comes to flying.

One of the first circuses I ever went to was Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus, when I was six or seven. It was such a great spectacle to witness. It’s something that you have a hard time wrapping your mind around, where do people go to learn all of these amazing things? It’s so great to see how recreational circus has exploded in the last few years and how more and more people can run away with the circus in their own way. It’s such a cool, unique, and different activity to be a part of. It’s very exhilarating, and it’s very challenging in the best ways.

Now that you are a mom, have you done any baby and me classes?

Beth & her son Jett Baker

When my older son, Jett, turned two I couldn’t wait to start taking him to the baby and me classes. We did that class together for almost a year. Now, he’s graduated to Tot Circus 1 and has been in that class for almost a year. As soon as Bennett, my younger son, turns 2 we’ll start taking the baby and me classes together. I’m so excited to share SANCA and all the circus fun with both my boys.

Jett is also dying to try Flying Trapeze. When he turns four in November, I’ll be taking him to the fly tent for Pay-Per-Flight so he can get started!

What do you hope your sons will get out of taking circus classes?

Right now? Patience and listening. Jett, compared to his younger brother, is my wild child. Bennett is so easy going and chill. With Jett, it’s about harnessing all this exuberant energy he has. It is my hope that directing his enthusiasm into a movement based, creative, and challenging activity will turn into something positive for him as he grows.

It’s great to be able to expose them to classmates and coaches from all different backgrounds and lifestyles. It’s this kind of positive exposure that all our children need to grow up to be kind, respectful, and loving human beings.

I also love that I am able to introduce them to the arts at a young age. As an graphic artist myself, I like giving them the opportunity to try out different creative avenues and find different ways to move their bodies and express themselves.

It is my hope, that they will want to stick with circus as they grow, and that they find their niche and passion in it.

What drew you to want to be on SANCA’s board? Are you on any other boards?

This is the first time I’ve ever been on an executive board, though I’ve been involved with other non-profits, in the past, as an active volunteer. In college, I was also in a co-ed, national honor fraternity where we volunteered with our college, non-profits, and local community.

I love how inclusive SANCA is. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your background or ability is, there is always something you can do or try. It’s a very creative and social environment, whether you’re a kid or an adult. I also appreciate all of the ebc and outreach programs that work with youth with different abilities. I know so many parents who have kids on the spectrum and are differently abled that could/would benefit from the programs and coaches here.

For me, as a work at home mom, I come to SANCA by myself to have my personal time, away from kids, a few hours a week. It’s my outlet, my relaxing time; I choose to be here and to be involved in any way I can.

So, how does she do it? Check Out Beth’s Recipe for SANCAFEST Success:

  1. If you have participated in SANCAFEST in the past, the best way to begin a new SANCAFEST fundraiser is to reach out with periodic targeted emails to donors who have given before.
    Share ongoing information about the impact of their gift and what it means to you.
  2. Offer to give away something simple. (You could do a recipe like Beth’s example, or even offer to do a trick. Coach Faye last year offered to sing any song of the donor’s choice while upside down and Programs Assistant Veronica has offered to try any apparatus of the donor’s choice).
  3. Make it fun! Share fun GIFs, videos, and pictures. You can even live stream your a-thon events and people can donate directly to your live stream!
  4. Be sure to thank your donors! Giving a public Facebook shoutout not only is a nice thing to do, but it will also give your donors warm, fuzzy feelings so they will be more likely to donate to you and SANCA again in the future.
  5. You can check out Beth’s Facebook fundraising page here.

Thanks, Beth, we’re so happy that you are a part of our circus!

Pregnancy and First Time Motherhood as a Professional Circus Performer

How becoming a mother changed one circus artist’s perspective on performing

You may know Wendy Harden from her mystifying A Unicycle Built for Two duo act with her husband, Nick, or as one of the incredible coaches of Cirrus Circus. Recently she added mother to her list of identities (coach, circus performer to name two). She sat down with us to talk about what it’s like to be a circus performer while pregnant and then being a new mom, and how that experience has changed her outlook on performing.

A Unicycle Built for Two (Nick & Wendy Harden)

What was it like performing and touring before having a child?

Wendy: Before Felix, Nick and I would have 4 or 5 hours every day to train and everything was geared towards a performance in our act. After Felix, we train about 45-60 minutes a few times a week. So our training times have really decreased. Luckily, we are at a spot where it’s pretty easy to maintain our unicycle act. So, instead of putting a lot of time into new skills and act creation, we’re putting a lot of time into healthy bodies and maintenance.

Has your performance changed since you had Felix?

Wendy: We’re putting a lot more time into solo acts so that I can work out and Nick can take care of Felix, or Nick can work out and I can take care of Felix.

What was it like training while being pregnant?

Wendy: Being pregnant and training was strange and very hard. You are essentially going through a sped up puberty and everything is changing almost daily. I feel like in regular life if you keep your output the same, you’ll get stronger. But it was clear that if I did the same workout every day it was just going to get harder and harder. It was weird to have your body change so much on you. Especially for me since I came into circus with my adult body, I never did circus through puberty or any growth spurts.

But logistically being a pregnant circus performer worked out fine because we still had a contract, and Marta Brown [former SANCA Coach] was able to step in and do my role with Nick. This was really great, so he could keep performing and keep the contract, and I could be pregnant.

Did you feel at all sad when Martha took your spot in performing with Nick?

Wendy: Not really. I didn’t because my pregnancy was something I really wanted. If it had been an injury and I had been replaced, my feelings would have been different. But because it was something I was fine and it was great that Nick could keep performing.

How did your obstetrician respond when they found out that you are in the circus for a living?

Wendy: The first doctor I went to said, “you can just continue your normal activity until about 5-6 months.” I’m like, “that makes me feel uncomfortable because you don’t totally understand what I do. I’m doing stomach slides on a Chinese pole.”

I tried to explain it to her, but she couldn’t really understand it. I didn’t end up going back to that first doctor that we saw, but I felt pretty in tuned with what I could and couldn’t do. Nick and I made the call that I wouldn’t be performing after 5-6 months pregnant, and that was the right call. It would have made his job very hard, if we were still performing then.

How so?

Wendy: Just because the balance is way off! I couldn’t be tight and standing on his head when I have fifteen pounds of weight sticking out. It is so much different than when my center of gravity is actually inside my body, and every week my center of gravity was growing and changing and getting farther out.

How is performing different now that you are a family of three?

Wendy: The actual running of our act is such a small part of doing shows. Getting on stage and performing is the easy part, life all around the performance is the harder part. Making sure Felix is fed, then putting on makeup, then putting Felix down for a nap, then getting in costume and making sure Felix doesn’t spit up or rub avocado all over my costume. Oh, and not forgetting to warm up or take my glasses off before I go onstage. It’s much less focused on us. And also, it makes the stage time feel even more special because it’s just Nick and I and it feels like before we had kids. We are giving all of our attention to one another and that feels really special.

What is it like to be a coach and a mom?

Wendy: SANCA is a really great place to have kids. It’s a really baby friendly place. People are always willing to pick him up and watch him so I can train. I’m really grateful that I don’t have to put him in daycare for nine hours a day to do what I want to do.

Is that the same for the circus community at large?

Wendy: Yes, there is always someone backstage who will hold him while we go and do our act. And everyone we’ve come across is more than delighted to have him backstage with us.

Do you think you’ll be able to keep the same lifestyle as he gets older?

Wendy: This is something Nick and I think a lot about but don’t have a clear pathway yet. Our goal right now is to continue to perform. I think we will know what the right choice will be as we get there. We have thought of a lot of options anything between travel and homeschool to regular school and just performing during the summers.

Are there other performing parents you’ve been able to talk to?

Wendy: Yeah. There are the Gentiles who perform with their kids and homeschool them and then there are people who work at Teatro ZinZanni and have their kids in regular school and just drive to work. We also know some people who just travel during the summer, so I think there aew examples of every different kind of situation.

Have any of your plans changed since you were pregnant? Is there anything that has come up in actually having the baby with you that you didn’t plan for?

Wendy: Our plan has always been to perform as long as we can and want, and that hasn’t changed. There is just a new set of challenges and things to consider. Being a mom is way more fun than I thought it would be! I feel so connected to another person in a way that I have never felt before. I’m not religious at all, but this is a very spiritual journey.

Whenever we do shows and tent set ups and I have to set up with him strapped to my back, it makes me feel strong and powerful, like I have this strange mom-power that lets me do anything. Training is definitely harder. It’s pretty surprising to me how little we train and can still keep everything up and improve. We are just really focused.

What do you think Felix will get out of growing up in the circus?

Wendy: It feels like he will grow up in a world where he feels safe and he knows that people love him. Also, hopefully, he’ll just know that the world is a really creative and playful place. You know, I try not to have too many high hopes about him being an acrobat, or when he’s going to join the unicycle act because I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him. But I’m sure he will develop some sort of athletic skill, just hanging out in a place like this. Since he’s started crawling and standing, it’s been really nice that we have a big, soft place to bring him to and let him play.

Has having a kid changed your coaching at all?

Wendy: Yes, I take much more note of the tots the come in here and wonder what it will be like when Felix is that age. My favorite thing about bringing Felix in is to see Cirrus (and other kids) connect with him. A lot of them don’t spend time with babies and it’s been fun to watch them watch Felix grow. Some of them have really bonded with him. Felix goes to all the gigs and just hangs out backstage with the kids. They take turns holding him and making sure he doesn’t put anything dangerous in his mouth. That’s been a really sweet thing to watch.

Another thing that has changed is the amount of social time I have at SANCA. Before I was able to come in and spend most of the day training and chatting to community members. Now, I come in and often only have an hour to get my workout in and so I spend that time training rather than chatting. And sometimes I miss the casual feel of spending hours at SANCA.

I love what you said about teaching Felix that the world is a creative and fun place. I feel like in general that’s not what we really teach kids – we tend to grind the creativity out of them.

Wendy: Yeah. But that is one of my goals as a parent is just to keep this bubble of love around him for as long as possible, and SANCA is a great place to do that. Even moms that come in and people I don’t know are like “Oh, do you want me to hold him? Do you need a hand?”

Anything else you want to add?

Wendy: [Having a kid] has really realigned my priorities. I used to feel a lot more pressure with performing. My day would be terrible or great depending on how I felt the show went. Now that that isn’t my only priority, so I feel like there is a little bit more freedom. I feel like my value isn’t just in how well I perform on stage, but how present I am for Felix and Nick.

Be on the lookout for more stories in our parenthood series.

If you are a parent in the circus, or you just have a circus story to share, we would love to hear from you


The Circus Doc Created a Book for Aerialists

Our very own resident physical therapist, Emily Scherb, has written the first ever aerial anatomy book: Applied Anatomy for Aerial Artists, published by North Atlantic Books. You can get a your copy early at the book launch August 21 at Third Place Books Ravenna.

Emily shares how she convinced the publishing world that the circus community is a thing and that we need anatomy books! No one else has really laid out the physicality of the work we’re doing, so she took it upon herself to prevent injuries and help us all become better students, instructors, and performers.

How did you originally get into circus?
Emily: Well, I was a competitive gymnast as a young kid and when I was eleven I found circus summer
camp. That was it! I loved it. By the time I was 16 I was teaching at the camp and trained independently with my trapeze rigged up at a gymnastics school throughout the year. When I finished high school, I moved to Portland and joined a local aerial dance company, Pendulum Aerial Arts Dance, and interned with Do Jump! Extremely Physical Theatre. After spending some time in Portland, I went to college in St. Louis where I worked with Circus Harmony during the year and in the summers taught flying trapeze. I interned with Elizabeth Streb as a dancer after my sophomore year, and after graduating I moved to New York City and became the Assistant Manager of the Trapeze School of New York and worked at the Espana-Streb Trapeze Academy. Then, I went to
graduate school back at Washington University in St. Louis where I was able to continue training and teaching throughout my studies. When I heard SANCA had just opened a flying trapeze rig the timing was perfectly coordinated with my graduation, and I headed to Seattle.

Clearly circus is an integral part of your life! How did you get the idea for writing a book?
In 2012 SANCA was hosting what was then called the AYCO Educators Conference (now ACE). Jo Montgomery asked me if I would create a four-hour long anatomy course for the educators who were attending. The questions they had and the deep interest everyone expressed about the topic really inspired me to start thinking about writing a book. It took a few more years and quite a few more workshops until I felt knowledgeable enough to approach the logistics of actually making it happen.

Once you had conceived of the idea for your book, how did you start the process of getting it published?
Emily: I did some research on publishers who have published similar things (anatomy, sports textbooks, etc.)
and with a friend’s guidance, I wrote up a book proposal. Circus has been growing exponentially so it was a great opportunity for a book like this.

My book is really focused on injury, injury prevention, self-care and building a training plan. It includes exercises for aerialists and education on what injuries they prevent.

Was it hard to get publishers to listen?
Emily: Definitely, I really had to make the argument that there is a huge community out there that is hungry for this information – about how the body works and how it allows us to do the things we do. No one has really broken down how aerialists are moving!

How long did it take to get a book deal?
Emily: I sent out the first proposal to a publisher in the summer of 2016 but didn’t get a contract until April of 2017.

What was your incentive for creating the book?
Emily: I hope it’s going to be a resource for aerialists and instructors to increase safety and awareness in their training. I hope it helps people have a better understanding of the body mechanics behind [aerial] so we can all be better students, instructors, and performers.

Muscles are made to work together either in pairs, or dynamically with other. Often when there is pain, it means there is over use of one group instead of balance.

What are common injuries in aerialists that you are hoping this book will help prevent?
Emily: The most common injuries are over-use injuries, especially in the shoulders – then hips and backs. The most common acute injury is sprained ankles and back.

What do the exercises focus on in order to prevent those injuries?
Emily: Muscles are made to work together either in pairs, or dynamically with other. Often when there is pain, it means there is over use of one group instead of balance.


Did you work with anyone to get the book done?
Emily: I worked with medical illustrator, Tiffany S. Davanzo, photography by Danny Boulet and used
aerialists from the community as my models.

You can find Applied Anatomy for Aerial Artists at your favorite bookstore and online at Amazon. Are you interested in working with Emily as your physical therapist? Check out her business website, Pure Motion Physical Therapy, for office locations and booking an appointment.