Author Archives: Maia LeDoux

SASS: SANCA’s Annual Spring Showcase!

SASS poster 2015 042915Celebrate spring at the SCHOOL OF ACROBATICS & NEW CIRCUS ARTS’ Annual Spring Showcase–SASS!

Tickets on sale now at: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2510253

Each May SANCA presents a showcase of unique, circus-variety performances with students, alumni, staff, and friends of SANCA. For one weekend only, you can see FOUR super exciting circus shows, each featuring a different line up of spectacular local and internationally renowned circus artists alongside SANCA’s tremendously talented student performers.

With festive musical accompaniment by Doc Sprinsock & the SANCApators, audiences will be treated to daring displays of acrobatics, high-flying aerials, rolling globe ensembles, contortion, juggling, and more!

 

FRIDAY MAY 20- 7pm
The Amazing Circus 1-ders
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Cirrus Circus
Audrey Spinazola
Ginger & Violet Schreiber
Aimee Storm
Katie Herndon
Katheryn Reed

SATURDAY MAY 21- 3pm
The Amazing Circus 1-ders
Magnificent 7
Cirrus Circus
Natalie Howells
Aimee Storm
Vertical Axis
Alyssa Hellrung & Ava Vermilya
Maile Gove & Orville Zharoff
Rachel Randall

SATURDAY MAY 21- 7pm
The Amazing Circus 1-ders
Magnificent 7
Cirrus Circus
Cora Borden
TRIcycle
Beth Baker
Alyssa Hellrung & Ava Vermilya
Rachel Randall

SUNDAY MAY 22- 3pm
The Amazing Circus 1-ders
Magnificent 7
Cirrus Circus
Audrey Spinazola
Beth Baker
Shade Moon
Aimee Storm
Maile Gove & Orville Zharoff

“Running Away to Join the Circus” – and dealing with Parkinson’s

From http://www.parkinsonalliance.org/weblog by guest blogger John Cornicello, a Seattle-based portrait photographer Cornicello Photography and a person with Parkinson’s

It all started a few years ago. I was working for a well-known software company. My job had me at a computer, typing, most of the day. I started noticing some “issues.” My left hand was becoming less accurate — DOuble-caps, repeating letters, things like that. I also noticed that my left arm was pulling in towards my body when at rest and it didn’t move/swing as I walked. My piano playing had been actually getting better for a few years, then all of a sudden it started a dive, too.

My first thought was that I suffered some sort of mild stroke. I got a referral to a neurologist, had an MRI, and things looked good. He had me do some basic movements. Then, as he observed me, he suggested that I might have Parkinson’s. I had no tremors. Just the stiff left arm and some cogwheel type of movement in my left wrist.

I had already been taking Ropinerole for restless leg, so we didn’t change anything there. My diet has never been that great, so my wife and I tried to go radical (for me) for a few months with no sugar, carbs, or gluten. I did lose about 20 lbs very quickly. However, I was starting to get some tremors in my left hand. After three months, I went back to dairy and gluten but have managed to keep away from sugared soft drinks.

Concurrently with all of this I had been photographing for a circus school here in Seattle. SANCA is the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, one of the largest such schools in the world. I became friends with the owners and at the end of a benefit show in February 2015 I casually mentioned that I had Parkinson’s and asked Jo Montgomery if she had ever worked with Parkinson’s patients. She said she had not, but that I should stop in at the school next Monday. And I’ve been there just about every Monday, since.

I was 57 and pretty sedentary when I started this. Jo started me up slowly with stretching exercises. And then gradually started asking me to try more activities. My initial reaction to most of these has been, “You want me to do what? OK, I can bounce on a trampoline and do some jumping jack type of movements, But now you want me to do a seat drop? And then come back to a standing position?” I dreaded the trampoline for about 2 weeks.

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Then it clicked and has become a favorite part of our routine. Next came walking on a balance beam. About 3″ wide and 6″ off the ground. More difficult than expected, but not so bad. I could do that one. Until one day she suggested a tight wire instead. A steel cable about 1/2″ or so wide. Barefoot, Jo would be holding one wrist as I walked back and forth across the wire. I never measured it, but I’m guessing it is a 12 foot distance. Amazingly I did it. And I enjoyed it.

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All of this has built good core strength and improved my confidence.

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So next came juggling. I’ve never been able to juggle. Maybe it is from lack of discipline and practice.

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But I try. Balls, clubs, rings. On my own, I’m really bad. But I found that I can toss 2, 3, or even 5 rings with another person. I believe this routine is helping to make new brain connections that might help with Parkinson’s.
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Then back to stretching. When I first started I couldn’t move my left shoulder. I would hold my left arm out to the side and grab a bar and tell it to move up/down and forward/back. And nothing would happen. I could tell my right shoulder to make all sorts of movements and it would. But the left shoulder would just sit there, completely ignoring my commands. I don’t know if is the medications (I started seeing a movement specialist in June 2015, and started Carbo/Leva in September), or all the other exercises, or a combination, but my left shoulder is finally starting to follow instructions and move around in circles when I want it to.

We also do some strength training by doing pull-ups on a trapeze bar and an exercise where I grab a bar above my head against a wall and pull my knees up to my chest 20 times.

Outside of circus school I have set up my home “triathlon” routine where I do a 30 minute routine that consists of a mile on a treadmill, then spin at 80-90 pedal rpm on a stationary bicycle for the balance of the 30 minutes. Then I take a shower.

All of this has helped me maintain a healthy and positive attitude. I consider myself lucky that my tremors are mostly mild and confined to my left hand so they don’t affect my photography. Yes, I’ve started using a tripod more often, but not all the time. I do worry that my left hand tremor might be a distraction to my subjects if my hand starts banging against my tripod. But I do explain the situation if that happens and all seems good.

This past week I found out that one of the members of SANCA’s board of directors has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and she has joined in on the Monday class. Our first try at juggling rings with each other went remarkably well.

Some days I wonder if I should be more concerned with my Parkinson’s. But so far I have managed to maintain a very upbeat attitude. I really look forward to both the SANCA and the home workouts. And I am somewhat amazed as I learn about more and more friends and colleagues who have some sort of tremors, be they essential tremors or Parkinson’s. This makes me have hope that more people will be learning about these issues leading to more research and the possibility of cures and even prevention. In the meantime, I am now starting to think about boxing lessons with a program like Rock Steady Boxing.

Thank you, John, for sharing your story with my assistant and blogging partner, Gloria Hansen. You are very creative and we applaud your unconventional approach to exercise, which we know is the best medicine for Parkinson’s. — Margaret Tuchman, President of  The Parkinson Alliance

Artists-in-Residence: Acrobatic Conundrum present “Love & Gravity”

April 8-10, Broadway Performance Hall

In this new, thrillingly beautiful work, Acrobatic Conundrum transports audiences to a captivating world seemingly free of the bounds of physics, but not free of the capricious struggle for human connection.

Fluent in the language of acrobatics, this cast risks all on a quest to tell honest accounts from an uncharted territory. Real life romances are portrayed through mesmerizing juggling acts, breathtaking aerial and partner acrobatics — all while balancing on a bar 20 feet in the air! This show will upend everything you thought you knew about these two laws of attraction: Love & Gravity.

Features: Carey Cramer, Terry Crane, Scotty Dont, Erica Rubinstein, Xochitl Sosa, Ty Vennewitz, and local special guests, Alex Allan and Anna Thomas-Henry.

Evening Shows: Advance Purchase $20, Door Price $25
Matinees: Advance Purchase $17, Door Price $22
VIP reserved seating available for all shows: $45, $100

Tickets: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/8470

Hello and Goodbye

SANCA coaches are amazing instructors and are often also amazing performers, and sometimes this means that we have to say goodbye or “see you later” to some of our favorite instructors. We love them, and we will miss them, (and we look forward to seeing them again!), but we have to find new fantastic people who will fill those ‘staff’ tshirts.

Among the departures:
Joshua will be in the Carolinas performing;
Nick and Wendy will be with Circus Smirkus for the summer;
Erica and Carey are touring with Acrobatic Conundrum for at least part of Spring;
Arne is in Montreal;
Leslie has been in India (but has returned!);
and Marta is hitting the road on a new adventure.

Here are some of the new faces in the gym and tent:

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Nikole Gramm is Seattle-based circus artist with a focus on fabric. She also occasionally performs other aerial apparatuses, partner acrobatics, and tramp wall. She found circus arts in 2010 after spending many years as a competitive gymnast and a couple years as a gymnastics coach.
She was coached by Sara Knauer at Aloft in Chicago, IL and Rachel Walker in Montreal, QC. During her time in Chicago she taught aerial at Aloft and frequently performed in El Circo Cheapo Cabaret. Since moving to Seattle, she performed in S7nners, produced by The Circus Project in Portland, frequently performs at corporate events with Animate Objects Physical Theater in Seattle, and coaches aerial classes at SANCA.
Nikole is a new aerial coach

Eve headshot sqWarrenZelmanPhotography-3 (2)Eve Diamond is an aerialist joining the SANCA staff with over ten years of teaching, training and performing experience in circus arts. Her love and respect for circus started when she was 12 and attended summer camp at Circus Smirkus (Greensboro, VT).  After being inspired by what circus training and performing has to offer, she was accepted to and attended three years of professional circus training in San Francisco, CA. After graduating in 2011, Eve’s been performing and teaching around the USA with companies such as Cirque Productions, Cirque Mechanics, Circus Bella and more. This summer she was invited to perform her cloud swing act at the Montreal Completement Cirque festival in Montreal, Canada.

The passion Eve felt for circus early on continues to inspire her to educate people of all ages and abilities. She encouraged her students to challenge themselves and be challenged by circus arts. As a former kid growing up in youth circus, she cares deeply about preserving circus training to the next generation and instilling the values of hard work and dedication. You can see more of what she does at www.eveontheswing.com.
Eve will be the Assistant Director for Cirrus Circus

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James Finch has been involved in circus for 4 years, specializing in flying trapeze. He discovered his passion for acrobatics at the age of 10, as a competitive gymnast and extreme sports enthusiast. He also has a mustache. James is a new coach on the fly staff

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katie headshot sm sqKatie Herndon grew up on a farm in central Washington and quickly discovered her love for heights and hanging upside down. After years of gymnastics she competed on the Acrobatics & Tumbling team for Azusa Pacific University. From there, her love of acrobatics led her to circus and aerial arts. After graduating with her degree in business, Katie moved back to the Pacific Northwest and began teaching and performing while furthering her circus skills through flying trapeze and trampoline. In 2015 she was given the opportunity to train with The Flying Aces as part of the Netherland’s National Circus. After a five-month immersion in the world of caravans, tents, and traditional circus, she once again returned to the beautiful city of Seattle, and has found an incredible environment in the SANCA community. She is now teaching tumbling and training acrobatics, trampoline, aerial silks, rope and flying trapeze. Katie is a new circus arts coach

shawn headshot sqShawn Kellogg has been studying movement since 2008 and has delved into yoga, martial arts, circus, dance and other disciplines. He collaboratively created and performed in several contemporary clown and theatre shows over the last three years. He has spent many hours training handstands, tumbling, and other circus arts at the San Francisco Circus Center, Twisters Gymnastics in Port Townsend, and right here at SANCA. For the last three years he has made a living as a structural integration practitioner and movement educator. He does private sessions with adults and children. In his sessions he teaches functional kinesiology and works with clients to relieve pain and create more ease everyday. Shawn is a new circus arts coach

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Sadie Ledonna has been dancing and practicing movement arts from an early age. As a homeschooler through middle and high school, Sadie was able to pursue her development as an artist, and sought out training in every activity that interested her. These included but were not limited to Scottish dance, ice skating, theater, weight training, singing, modern dance, ballet, and partner dance. Her first experience with circus was at SANCA in an intro to circus class. She loved it, and was inspired to learn more! Over the last 7 years, she has studied aerial, clowning and other disciplines at The New England Center For Circus Arts, The San Francisco Circus Center, and Versatile Arts. She has also collaborated in creating and performed in various clown, theater, and vaudeville shows around the Pacific Northwest. Currently, she lives a ferry away on Vashon Island and teaches children at UMO School Of Physical Arts. She is excited to continue learning and to share her knowledge about movement!
Sadie is a new aerial coach

alyssa_luna_headshot_sqAlyssa Luna saw her first glimpse into the circus world in 2007, when she joined circus club in college. After college Alyssa moved back to Seattle and discovered her new found love was just around the corner. She began to indulge herself with silks,  Lyra and finally found flying trapeze. She specializes in flying trapeze, Lyra and duo trapeze. Her love and dedication for all things circus led her to teaching kids through day camp programs as well as summer camps  throughout the south, east coast and a bit of Midwest.  Her love for circus and what it can teach today’s youth still continues since she found her way to SANCA. Alyssa is an Outreach Coach

missy headshot 3Missy Nagin first found circus when she moved to Seattle in 2013. She took her first flying trapeze class and was hooked. She started flying regularly and wanted to stronger. She began taking aerial classes inside to build more strength control. As a nurse in real life she spends her time caring for patients with cancer and circus provides a great outlet. As a nurse, already connected with Camp Korey, she had the opportunity to volunteer as an outreach coach. After this experience Missy wanted to get more involved. As an Outreach Coach Missy gets to combine her love for circus in combination for helping children grow both emotionally and physically.

amber headshot sqAmber Parker came to SANCA as a student in 2014, mostly on a whim and looking to try something new. After her first class, however, she was hooked and her life was forever changed by the circus. She began with aerial fundamentals, and has since branched out to contortion and Cyr Wheel, and most currently, to studying circus arts academically and professionally.
Amber’s background is in women’s health, which she has been specializing in since 2004 through various lenses- birth work, health education, public health research, counseling, and social work with high risk populations. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Antioch University in 2014, and is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Creative Arts Therapy, with a specialization in Drama Therapy. In her Master’s work Amber is developing methods of using Circus Arts as a therapeutic medium, combining circus skills training with mental health counseling. Now, as a Every Body’s Circus Coach, Amber is excited to combine her background in Women’s Health with her passion for Circus Arts to help SANCA further achieve their mission to improve the mental and physical health of our community. Amber is an Outreach Coach and SANCA Blog contributor

Audrey Spinazola sqShe was raised in Boise, Idaho. Having graduated two one-year conservatory programs in San Francisco: The Clown Conservatory (during the Jeff Raz years) and Flying Actor’s Physical Theater program, she then proceeded to co-found Main Street Theater. This alternative event space in San Francisco’s Excelsior district, dedicated to Physical Theatre and the Variety Arts is where she created, performed, and produced for five years. She has been a juggler for Myth Busters and the San Francisco Opera. She is one half of the musical duo Carl and Beatrice. She co-created and toured Genie and Audrey’s Dream Show!!! (an award-winning two woman circus/clown show). She has performed for the San Francisco Accordion Club. Twice. She has coached youth circus programs at San Francisco’s Circus Center, Prescott Circus Theater in Oakland, NuevaSummer, and Circus Moves. She has performed as a hospital clown for both ClownZero and The Medical Clown Project. She is: Audrey Spinazola.
Audrey is our new Youth Performer Companies Director. 

Amanda Thornton headshot sqAmanda Thornton found the circus arts while studying theater and writing. She gravitated immediately to aerial fabric and committed her free time to strength and flexibility using this amazing apparatus. Amanda has tried to broaden her horizons as a circus performer and practice everything from juggling to stilt walking and fire spinning, but aerial is where her true passion lies. After finding a home on fabric she began to experiment with the other apparatus such as trapeze, hoop, and rope and learned that it isn’t just about specializing in one thing for her. She also is a dedicated acro-yogi and loves sharing her knowledge on partner work, which she also took to the skies with her partner on the aerial fabric. To her the circus is a community for learning about all sorts of crazy things, whether that’s flying in the sky, standing on your hands, or object manipulation. Amanda moved to Seattle and began working for Teatro ZinZanni, which is what lead her to SANCA. She is thrilled to play in this beautiful space and work with a community of well-rounded and thriving circus artists.
Amanda is a new aerial coach

Faye headshot sqFaye Visintainer found her way to the world of circus through performing with Oberlin College’s O!Circus. Though she began as a dancer, she eventually picked up poi “just to try it” and never looked back. She took a brief break from twirling things around her head to teach English as a second language in Japan, where her circus skills came in more handy than she initially thought. After her return to America she found herself at SANCA’s doorstep and promptly fell in love. Now she is thrilled to be a part of the Outreach program, and in her off time, delights in learning as much about juggling and flying trapeze as she possibly can.
Faye coaches outreach groups and is our party and event coordinator.

It’s Almost Here!

After many weeks of work, we’re just a day away from Up with a Twist!

Saturday was one of the last rehearsals before the show. Friends, family, staff and performers all came together to eat, rehearse and make last minute preparations for the big day.

This year’s Up with a Twist is sold out, and for good reason. Not only does this show support SANCA’s vital programs, it’s an outstanding production showcasing some of of our most talented performers. If you didn’t get a ticket this year, be sure to tune into our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for a live feed of the show, featuring pictures, clips, and interviews with the performers and audience.

All three youth performance troupes take direction from their director, David Crellin.

All three youth performance troupes take direction from their director, David Crellin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coach Mary practicing her LED Hoop routine for the packed north annex!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Cicus 1-ders, our youngest performers, worked hard all day fine tuning their performance with the dedication and discipline of performers much older.

Coach Milla putting finishing touches on costumes

Coach Milla putting finishing touches on costumes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director David Crellin and MC Kevin Joyce discussing cues while Cirrus perfects their table routine.

Director David Crellin and MC Kevin Joyce discussing cues while Cirrus perfects their table routine.

Gala Preparations Afoot!

By Amber Parker

There’s a simmering excitement around SANCA lately that’s greater than the usual magic you feel when you walk into the building. The entire gym feels more alive- children running from annex to annex, parents and volunteers crouched in corners sewing costumes, coaches, directors and administrators bustling all around us. It’s not just that it’s been more busy at SANCA, it’s that Leap with a Twist is approaching us fast, and everywhere you can feel the creative energy that is manifested when a community comes together around a common cause- to produce an original and inspired stage show.

image1SANCA’s annual fundraising gala, Up with a Twist (re-named Leap with a Twist since it falls on Leap Day in 2016), is a mere three weeks away. This is SANCA’s 7th year producing this show, and it’s become a highly anticipated and integral part of the SANCA community. Not only is Twist the largest show of the year, the fundraising at the gala supports SANCA’s Circus Arts Program for Youth, which makes the benefits of circus arts available to all families, independent of their ability to pay. Considering this mission to make circus arts more accessible, the theme of the show this year feels particularly apt- Creating a World Inspired by Circus. The show explores the question, “What would the world look without circus?” and what’s more, “What would our community look like without SANCA?”  In many ways, the artistic direction of the show is an answer to these questions.

David Crellin, also known as Armitage Shanks, The Carney Preacher, has been directing Up with a Twist for the last six years and is working with young performers he’s seen advance through all three youth performance troupes, from the Circus-1ders to Magnificent 7 and on to Cirrus Circus. Here, David speaks to the both the concept behind this year’s show and how it explores a world created by circus:

I had the privilege of observing David in rehearsal with all three troupes featured in Leap with a Twist for their first stumble through rehearsal. With a total of 39 children ranging from ages 5-18, David worked with the young performers for hours choreographing their opening scenes and fine tuning their upcoming performances. It’s truly amazing to see the show come together, not only for the visually stunning art direction, but for the level of commitment and discipline required from everyone involved to bring the show to life.

Please stay tuned to the SANCA blog for more upcoming features on the creation of this year’s Leap with a Twist! 

Former Canadian National Power Tumbling Champ lands back at SANCA for weekend workshops.

CJ moustacheOwner of West Coast Flying Trapeze in BC Canada and former SANCA coach, Chris Johnston will be back in  Seattle this weekend! While at SANCA, he taught flying trapeze, tumbling, trampoline to students and staff alike.

Chris started gymnastics at the age of four and at thirteen he began to focus on trampoline and tumbling. His tumbling career took off quickly and he was a Canadian National Champion at seventeen, which allowed him to earn a spot on the Canadian National Team. After leaving gymnastics, his love of acrobatics never ceased and it quickly led him to his career in circus arts.

Chris knew he wanted to pursue acrobatics, but his journey as a flying trapeze coach, flyer, and catcher began in stark contrast to the exacting precision of his gymnastics training. After being hired for his first circus job, he was given a tour of his new facility. Upon passing the flying trapeze rig, he inquired as to who would be crazy enough to do such a thing. The tour guide quickly informed Chris that, whether he intended to or not, he was going to learn how to fly.

Despite being terrified of heights, he was drawn to the Flying Trapeze. Since then Chris has taught circus in Mexico, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. His love of the Flying Trapeze and circus arts is why he wanted to bring the experience back home to Canada and share it with others. Chris now lives in BC and will open West Coast Flying Trapeze in its new permanent location in March.

Chris is teaching two flying trapeze workshops

CJ ftat SANCA in February. On Saturday, February 13th from 5:00-8:00pm, he will get into the mechanics of Flipping & Twisting on the flying trapeze. Students will break skills down on the SANCA trampolines and then piece them back together, better than ever, on the flying trapeze. On Sunday, February 14th from 12:00-3:00pm, he will coach a Catch & Return workshop that focuses on the much sought after round trip, from fly bar to catcher and back again.

Leslie in India

Orientation - (25) beautiful women from all over the world. Really. Greece, France, Japan, Mexico, Canada, UK, Chile, Switzerland, Italy and a strong showing for the West Coast of the USA

Orientation – (25) beautiful women from all over the world. Really. Greece, France, Japan, Mexico, Canada, UK, Chile, Switzerland, Italy and a strong showing for the West Coast of the USA.

Coach Leslie is not just one of SANCA’s amazing coaches, she also teaches bellydancing classes and performs in Sirens of Serpentine (bellydance) and Pyrosutra (dancing with fire). Leslie is currently on a dance sabbatical, participating in a two-month intensive dance training program in Odissi classical dance, Vinyasa and Kabelia (Gypsy) in Pushkar.

Shakti School of Dance is a center for the study and practice of traditional Indian dances, yoga and their intrinsic philosophies.

Housed in the Vaishnav temple of Lord Rang Nath Venu Gopal, in the holy town of Pushkar, Rajasthan, India, the school ambiance is a contemplative devotional atmosphere.  It is a place where artistic and spiritual inquiry is nurtured and reinforced by structured study.

Students from all over the world come to experience Rajasthani folk arts and culture through, classes, lecture demonstrations and performances.  The diverse curriculum offers students a chance to drop into Colleena’s unique Indian Fusion Belly dance classes or learn from a local Kalbelia ‘Gypsy’ – Rajasthani folk dance.

The school’s main focus is to promote and preserve Odissi classical Indian dance of the Kelu Charan Mohapatra lineage. Imparting rich authenticity through the traditional classroom setup, Odissi students delve into a rigorous training system of Indian classical dance technique, supplemented with deeper studies in Indian aesthetic theory, Vinyasa Krama Yoga and related cultural and philosophical studies.

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What do dancers do with their one day off a week in India? More dancing! Chari Dance - Pot Balancing (Rajasthani Traditional folk dance)

What do dancers do with their one day off a week in India? More dancing! Chari Dance – Pot Balancing (Rajasthani Traditional folk dance)

Coach Leslie

LeslieHeadshotI met Leslie Rosen, my aerial fundamentals trainer, in the summer of 2013. From the moment I met Leslie, I found her to be kind, accepting, and patient with me and all of her other students. No matter what kind of experience, body, or skill level her students bring to class, Leslie is uniquely adept at individualizing physical training so that it can be accessible to anyone. Leslie has truly been my ambassador at SANCA, and I’ve come to depend on her guidance and wisdom.

So, when Leslie announced she’d be taking a quarter long sabbatical from teaching to study Belly Dance in India, I was first happy for her, and then I wondered, who could possibly replace Leslie Rosen, even for one quarter?

Joining the circus is so much more than learning tricks and conditioning exercises, it is embarking on a transformative path that many have walked before. Circus is a tradition, and within every skill is the history and experiences of those who developed the skills before we ever dared to try. Leslie understands this and brings that context to her training. In fact, Leslie’s entire career is steeped in performing arts that rely on the intergenerational transmission of knowledge- stilt walking, fire 10983131_10152707028861267_4857998011046761167_nperforming, hula hooping, belly dancing, and of course, passing that knowledge on to others as a teacher. Leslie leads two performance troupes, the belly dancing Sirens of Serpentine and Pyrosutra, her fire troupe. Additionally, she has the distinction of being the only Belly Dancer in the Cirque du Soleil database. Leslie truly exemplifies a modern artist embodying centuries of tradition in her work, and by teaching what she’s learned, she hands those traditions down to her students so the lineage can continue.

10648459_738113749589054_789311957643444959_oWhen Leslie came to SANCA nearly a decade ago, she brought with her a background in dance, but no experience with aerial acrobatics. This makes her current aerial expertise 100% learned in-house at SANCA. Leslie progressed from aerial basics, such as learning to climb the rope, to mastering aerial fundamentals and beyond. She was able to achieve this in part by having a diversity of trainers over the years, including Chuck, Alyssa, Chelsea, Jeff, Terry, Crystal and Rachel and Ben. Over time, through countless classes, workshops and trainings (and no doubt a great deal of commitment), Leslie found the techniques and skills that worked for her and continued to deepen her understanding of aerial arts. But circus is much more of a journey than a destination, and even though Leslie is a successful trainer and instructor, she continues to challenge herself by remaining a life long student of her various disciplines. I’ve seen Leslie stealing moments to study new aerial technique from videos, I’ve watched her dangle from the Lyra above me as she learned how to move her body on a new apparatus, and I’ve sweat and worked hard next to her when she’s dropped into my Strength and Flexibility class. Leslie is more than just my teacher, she’s my peer in the circus lifestyle, which is what being in a community is all about. It’s not about hierarchy, it’s about connection.

12523041_10153686112600546_5228380534484919030_nJust as Leslie has committed herself to the ongoing education of circus arts, she will be apart from us for the winter session so she can deepen her understanding of classical Indian dance. On New Year’s Day Leslie traveled to a temple school in Rajasthan to study Odissi, Vinyasa yoga and Belly Dance and fire performance with the Romani (also known as Gypsies) for three months. She will no doubt come back full of new experiences, techniques, and the multigenerational knowledge contained in this traditional art form.

Instructors like Leslie Rosen are what keep art alive in our increasingly digital, disconnected culture. We are lucky at SANCA to have a community that values tradition and inherited knowledge, that respects and acknowledges the experience of trainers like Leslie. I will miss her while she’s gone, but by learning new techniques and different ways of approaching skills with new instructors, I am following Leslie’s footsteps.

-Amber Parker

Who’s on that Unicycle?

Nick and Wendy

You know them as Coach Nick and Coach Wendy, two friendly faces around SANCA that will help you enroll in the right class or learn how to stay upright on your unicycle. Wendy and Nick are also A Unicycle Built For Two, the duo circus act that blends the unicycle, acrobatics, and light-hearted romance, and last fall they were absent from the SANCA gym while they were on a national tour with Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk.

Nick Harden started training in the circus arts at the Illinois State University Gamma Phi Circus under the direction and coaching of Al and Lin-Veronica Light. He has performed in a variety of acts including partner and group acrobatics, German wheel, juggling, Russian bar, teeterboard, tightwire, and unicycle. Nick finished college in 2008 with a degree in physical education. However, he had been bitten hard by the circus bug, and knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his days in the circus. He came to Seattle in 2009 to work at SANCA as the Assistant Program Director, a perfect marriage of his college degree and love of circus. While Nick was not focused on performance it wasn’t long before he found himself back onstage on the unicycle in SANCA’s Annual Spring Showcase.

Wendy Allen grew up flipping and twisting at a gymnastics center in Northern California. After getting a BA in Film and Digital Media from UCSC, Wendy was invited back to Northern California to teach tumbling with an after-school circus program. She loved it, and quickly decided she wanted more circus. In 2010 Wendy moved to Seattle and fully immersed herself in the circus world. SANCA quickly realized that Wendy needed to be more than a student and hired her to work in the office; it wasn’t long until she was asked to coach as well.

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Though a concussion had Wendy temporarily forgetful of the fact that she and Nick had just started dating, since 2010 they have been together, both as a couple and on the unicycle. Nick began training Russian Bar with Coaches Erica and Marta and in the summer of 2012 performed in Circus Bella on their California tour. Nick was in the Russian bar trio and with Wendy as a unicycling duo. The four of them had a fabulous time and, though they came back to work at SANCA again, performing had taken hold of their hearts.

Nick and Wendy continued to work on their duo act, performing locally in Moisture Festival and in SANCA shows, before leaving once more, in 2013, to tour the nation, this time with the Zoppe Family Circus. This was their first time being a part of a tent circus tour- living out of an RV, building and dissembling the circus as they moved from town to town. They loved it.

As Seattle had become their home and SANCA held dear in their hearts, they returned once more to live, teach and train in the Emerald City. They joined the IMPulse Circus Collective, adding teeter board and banquine to their skills and creating and touring a new show, Figments. In 2014 Nick and Wendy got married and bought a house.

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The adventures just kept coming their way! During the summer of 2015 they toured California with the Flynn Creek Circus, and though they had planned to return to coaching that fall, they were offered a chance to tour the nation with Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk.