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 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
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.
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.
Anthony Oliva is fascinated, overjoyed, and nourished by the communication of bodies in motion with one another. He has danced and climbed all his life, and began training himself in circus arts in 2006. He has since studied and graduated from the New England Center For Circus Arts’ Professional Training Program (2011 Chinese Pole & Hoop Diving, 2014 Hand to Hand), where he was then employed as an acrobatics instructor. In 2011, he began working as a dancer for Pilobolus Dance Theatre.
Reconnecting with the circus community in 2014 brought Anthony to Montreal where he trained under Jerôme LeBaut (Ecole Nacionale de Cirque-Montreal, Cirque Eloize, Cirque du Soleil) and was a part of creating the show Tinder and Ash (TinderAndAsh.com) with 4 other graduates of the NECCA Protrack program. Recently he has joined the team at Trapeze School New York-DC as a part of the fly staff and a coach in the acrobatic/aerial program.
Anthony has trained and worked as a performer, instructor, and rigger across the U.S. and internationally, from Anchorage to Miami, Montreal to Macedonia, and is excited to make a connection in your community – with you.
Elise Thea Sipos, known to her circus friends as “Teddy,” grew up in the southern bayous of Louisiana. To minimize the damage, her parents put this whirling dervish into dance class at the young age of five. Over the years she has studied; modern dance, creative expression through improvised movement, the ancient art of Bharata Natyam, ballet, jazz, flamenco, and various styles of African dance.
In 2007, Elise graduated from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Biology. Being particularly fond of the mating habits of passerine birds, she intends to continue her independent study of extra pair paternity in graduate school…. one day. But before she threw herself into the world of academia, she wanted to follow her passion and dance professionally. After college, Elise moved to Chicago and was fortunate to work with Aerial Dance Chicago for three seasons; a company which infuses the aerial acrobatic arts with ground dance choreography. Elise primarily studied aerial fabric and trapeze, although she learned choreography in bungee and rope and harness.
In 2011, Teddy moved to Vermont to participate in the Professional Track Training Program at the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA). There she learned more about the technical aspect to her aerial movement and found a new thirst for expanding her circus vocabulary. Her focus for the program was in an invented apparatus, which she calls a Halo, and in acrobatic dance, while strengthening her knowledge in fabric, lyra, and contortion. Teddy completed a residency at NECCA, which produced a duo trapeze act with her trapeze partner, Gwynne Flanagan, and the formation of their group, Forever Marzipan. Presently, Elise is following her passion and enjoying success as a professional aerialist with Girls on Trapeze, Nimble Arts, Cirque Imagination, and full time work as the Assistant Director of Aerial Horizon in San Antonio. Teddy has taught workshops at NECCA, the CADE festival in Charlotte, NC, the Fly Studio in New Orleans, and The Space in Atlanta.
Veniqua discovered aerial arts training three 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 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.
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!”