Instructors

 

Acoatzin

Acoatzin Torres

Founder and lead instructor Acoatzin Torres is a well-known local instructor and performer of aerial arts. He has trained, taught and performed locally and across the United States.  Much of his formal training has been at the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) in Brattleboro, Vermont, a world-renowned venue for circus art instruction and instructor certification.  His expertise extends to aerial fabric, lyra, trapeze, sling, and rope. His unsurpassed dedication to his craft and to his students shines through in every class he teaches.

Prior to discovering his love for the circus arts, Acoatzin was a performer and teacher of multiple styles of dance, most notably Mexican Folk Dance, which he has studied since he was 5 years old.  Prior to moving to the U.S., Acoatzin danced professionally in his home country of Mexico, where he also studied fashion design.


Gwynne Flanagan

Gwynne is a DC-based aerial performer with over 10 years of experience. She has trained in NYC, NECCA and Montreal. Gwynne is a founding member of Girls on Trapeze and Duo K+G. You can find out more about her at gwynnewithwings.com


Rebecca Freund

With an elephant-riding Aunt and a clown for an Uncle (no, really, he was a clown), Rebecca Freund has always had a fascination with the circus arts. With years of gymnastics under her belt, she decided to put them to good use and become an aerialist. Training with amazing and diverse aerialists, such as Terry Beeman, Maximiliano Torrandelle, Tania Holt, she fell in love with the delicate art of dancing in the air. Specializing in silks, trio cube, hammock, chandelyra, and hoop, she has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with amazing artists like Sinbad, Enrique Iglesias, and Nelly Furtado. The White House, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Tim Robbin’s WTF Festival, LA County Fair, First Fridays at Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort, and the grand opening for the conjunction of Target and Nordstroms are just a few of the places and events Rebecca has been spotted in the air. She spent years working with Terry Beeman’s Mental Head Circus and Jordann Baker’s Shapeshifter Circus. She has also been in the air at private events, weddings, casinos, and clubs, and has a feature in Maxim Magazine online.

When she is not performing, Rebecca loves teaching. Getting her start teaching at Hollywood Aerial Arts in Los Angeles, and teaching throughout LA and the Washington DC area, Rebecca has spent 12 plus years helping others find their love for aerial. You can see her in action here.


Danny Guzman

Danny (aka Daninho) is from Virginia, and he studied Management Information Systems at George Mason University. Danny has been training Capoeira for 13 years now and is a part of Grupo Capoeira Brasil. Danny started instructing because of his passion to share a new culture, the rich culture of Capoeira, with the community. Now, in addition to his passion for the culture, his favorite part of instructing is the students and the enthusiastic energy they bring to his class!

In fact, everyone who comes to Danny’s Capoeira class leaves with new friends. While the culture and friendships are exciting and invigorating, when you come to Capoeira with Danny, make sure you’re ready to sweat!


Jasper Hu

Jasper (aka Alegre) was born in Phoenix, Arizona but grew up in Queens, New York. He graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor in Integrative Studies with a concentration in Elementary Education and a minor in Psychology. After a few years of working, he stuck around the George Mason area and recently received his Master of Social Work degree. He currently works as a Social Worker in Case Management at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

In his free time, Jasper aka “Alegre” has been training Capoeira for 11 years now and is a part of Grupo Capoeira Brasil. Jasper has a passion for the culture and history of capoeira and started instructing so that he could share this passion with others. In fact, these are the same reasons that people get excited to take Jasper’s class. According to Jasper, capoeira is “not only a martial arts class, it’s a lesson in history.” Jasper describes capoeira as a martial art masked as a dance which tells a story. This atmosphere and Jasper’s passion for capoeira helps to create a community within every class he instructs. He strongly believes that a positive attitude can help anyone achieve their goals. If his silly antics doesn’t make you smile, his energetic Capoeira classes will.


Jean Lam

Jean Lam has been a professional In the fitness industry for over a decade.  She is an AFAA certified group fitness instructor and GoldenHearts senior specialist;  ACE certified personal trainer;  NASM certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, PSIA level 2 ski instructor and children’s specialist 1.  Jean has worked with all ages and abilities in different areas of fitness.  She has trained high level athletes from competitive dancers and tennis players up to teaching parkour-based fitness to senior citizens. She is a member of the board of PK Move, a nonprofit foundation that brings parkour to special populations.

In the past several years, Jean has been studying aerial silks.  She has taken classes and workshops under a variety of organizations and individuals, including Acoatzin Torres (Monarca in Flight), the Trapeze School of New York in DC (TSNY), the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) in Brattleboro, Vermont, as well as completed NECCA’s Nimble Arts Aerial Teacher Training at Caroline Calouche studio in Charlotte, NC.


Jessica John

Jessica John is a circus artist, director, producer, choreographer, and health and movement coach. In her personal practice, she specializes in corde lisse (rope), rope loop, aerial fabric, and dance trapeze. An ardent movement researcher, she was a competitive athlete, teenage “rockette,” and skier, before finding a passion for circus in 2006. In 2017, after the 2016 US presidential election, she left a career as an intelligence officer with the CIA, to pursue coaching, performing, and directing full-time. Jessica is the founder and director of Alter Circus, a feminist contemporary circus and performance art company. Jessica’s work challenges gender norms through displays of virtuosic strength and flexibility and rejects narrative structures as a primary humanizing device. The empathetic space she creates for performers combines with compelling visuals to make award-winning collaborative and solo works. Jessica is also a certified GYROTONIC® trainer and a Functional Movement System and Precision Nutrition certified nutrition and performance specialist.

You can find more information about her at jessicajohncircus.com.


susan

Susan Lowery

Susan started her professional life in the science world.  As a published biologist, she has worked for Battelle, NASA, New Mexico State University, Corning and Juniata College. In one facet or another, Susan has always been encouraged or steered to instruct adult learners (university students, USArmy Engineer Officers and NGB soldiers).

During a sabbatical in the UK at the age of 43, Susan found aerial arts at Spin City, Newbury, England under the instruction of Amy Capper-Gorman, Francesca Stockwell, Lexi Gumm and “Bendy Kate” Czepulkowski, training mainly in fabric and cross training in Roman rings, flexibility, static trapeze, corde lisse and Lyra.

Susan loves to use biology and science to highlighting the physical movement with scientific and anatomical concepts.  She loves instructing students who, like her, start their aerial journey with “hurdles” (lack of strength/flexibility, fear of heights, lack of confidence, overweight or simply over the age of 40) but simply posses the desire to “try”.

Susan has completed Paper Doll Militia’s teacher training in Aerial Fabric and is currently in the final practicum phase of the Born to Fly certification.


Veniqua Stewart

Veniqua discovered aerial arts training four years ago as an outlet from the stress of her JD/MPH dual degree program. She began her training under Acoatzin Torres, and continued to work to strengthen herself as an instructor, and to develop her own technique. She integrated methods she has learned during her extensive background in performing arts into her teaching. She has also paid close attention to the stumbling blocks that she faced in her early practice, and those faced by her students.

Additionally, she has traveled to various studios around the DC area, and to the New England Center for Circus Arts in order to supplement her skill set. These experiences have helped Veniqua to develop an arsenal of tips and strategies for helping aerialists to gain a strong foundation for their practice, and has enabled her to readily identify and resolve student difficulties with ease. Veniqua is always excited about aerial arts, and is eager to spark that same enthusiasm for the practice in her students!


kat

Kat Stroot

Kat Stroot has been a performer since she was a very small child, beginning as an actor and dancer before she can even remember, and growing up in the theater. In 2003 she began studying the aerial arts, focusing on silks, dance trapeze, and harness work. After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (ETW), she joined forces with Stephen Wangh on his production of Five Aerial Scenes from Troilus and Cressida (Tectonic Theater co/NYU) and was hooked on the idea of combining theater and the aerial arts to further the deeper meaning of story using this uniquely expressive art.

Kat has worked as an actor, teacher, stage manager, aerialist, and producer in New York, DC, and abroad. As a stage manager and teacher, she takes safety very seriously, emphasizing best practices whether working with prop weaponry, rigging to fly a performer, or simply maintaining a safe working environment for her students and colleagues.


mauricio

Mauricio Valle

Handstand Fitness Founder, Handstand & Fitness Coach
Born in Santiago, Chile. Raised in Northern VA

Mauricio started his handstand journey in his early 30’s. He has trained extensively with professional hand balancers, acrobats, and Cirque du Soleil artists and mentors. His hard work and dedication proves you can start your journey at any age.

After years of traveling to classes and workshops to build his knowledge, technique, and skills, he created his own Handstand Fitness program to save you time, money, and frustration by bringing the training to you.

If you’re struggling with getting into the handstand or have trouble finding the balance without using the wall, Mauricio will help you find the balance you desire with his Handstand Fitness program.
He will help you build your confidence so that you can safely stand on your hands. His experience, passion, and attention to detail will help you quickly gain the knowledge and strength you need to achieve your freestanding handstand and fitness goals.

The meaning of life is to find your purpose, the gift of life is to share that with others!”