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.

Sophia Chen

Sophia Chen began her aerial journey in October 2017 on split fabric here at Monarca in Flight. She branched out to lyra a few months later and quickly fell in love. Today, lyra is her primary apparatus, though she also trains split fabric and cross-trains with static and dance trapeze. Sophia is particularly interested in transitions and theory, and strives to teach students not just skills, but how to find pathways between them. In April 2019, she completed Paper Doll Militia’s Level 1 Lyra Teacher Training with Rain Anya.

A New Jersey native, Sophia holds a B.A. in Political Science and Music Education from Denison University in Granville, OH. She has lived in the DC area since 2011 and supports her circus habit by working as a management consultant and project manager. Sophia is also a classically trained mezzo-soprano with extensive performance experience as both a soloist and an ensemble singer; she has performed in nine countries across four continents and still performs locally when her schedule permits.

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

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.

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

Samantha Kacos

Samantha is a dancer and aerialist who has been performing almost as long as she can remember. Beginning as a dancer at age 5, she has spent most of her life training in the performing arts. With over two decades of experience in jazz, contemporary, ballet, tap, hip-hop, ballroom, and more, she has performed on stages throughout the country and been a member of several different professional dance companies in Los Angeles, Boston, and DC.

Samantha first found circus arts in 2010 while living in Los Angeles, but graduate school, life, and moving got in the way and it wasn’t until 2015 that she was able to get back to it and really make aerial arts part of her life. She loves integrating her dance background into aerial movement and teaching others how to be more comfortable exploring movement and learning what works for their bodies.

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.


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 (Spin City Hoop Bibles) 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 over 600 hours in instruction of Aerial silks, currently instructs at Pilates Connection Winchester, VA and Monarca in Flight in Washington DC (aerial flexibilty, silks, sling, Lyra, conditioning) Susan has continued her personal training traveling to England to train with Yam Doyev (Gravity CircusLondon), Gravity & Levity European Aerial Dance Festival 2018, as well as returning to train with the amazing team at Spin City Newbury, England UK. Susan has also trained with Rain Anya (Paper Doll Militia) Christine Van Loo, Bobby Taylor, Laura Witwer (NY), Lydia Laria, Caitlyn Larsson (FittoFly, AU), Acoatzin Torres (Monarca in Flight), and others. Susan was accepted (thru audition) into Paper Doll Militia’s Born To Fly Instructor Certification program and completed their training in October 2017.


Danielle O’Donnol

Danielle O’Donnol is a mathematics professor. She found her passion for aerial arts after starting her career in math. Because of moving and traveling she has taken classes at studios all over the US and London, with most of her training at National Centre for Circus Arts (formerly Circus Space) in London and Asabela Studio in Bloomington, IN.

Danielle has focused on static trapeze, but also explored Lyra, dance trapeze, rope, German Wheel, silks and sling. She tries new apparatuses whenever the opportunity arises.

She started performing three years before moving to Arlington. She has completed the Asabela Studio instructor certification for both static trapeze and Lyra.

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 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.

Clair Vogel

Clair Vogel is a DC arts nonprofit professional with a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics (and a minor in Music) from the College of William and Mary. While much of her adult life has been based in the metro area, she was born in Bangkok, Thailand and has lived overseas in countries such as Laos and Austria. Performing in musical theater and multiple choral and a cappella ensembles while growing up and during college, she discovered aerial arts in the spring of 2016 while searching for a new creative outlet in her post-college life.

Clair has trained in studios mostly in the DC metro area, focusing on aerial silks and dance trapeze, while also making time to explore lyra, sling, and experiment with invented apparatuses. In February 2019 she completed NECCA’S (the New England Center for Circus Arts) Nimble Arts Aerial Teacher Training Level 1.