Ashland Aerial Arts (formerly Le Cirque Centre) is committed to challenging youth of all ages to build confidence in their physical capacity and creative impulses in a space where people of all races, gender expressions, abilities, religions and national origins can engage in learning aerial arts and self-expression safely.
Ashland Aerial Arts educates young people to become empowered, creative and skillful performers through a curriculum of aerial arts, modern dance, improvisation and somatic awareness. Creating unique performances encourages youth to claim their voice in collaboration, in the studio and beyond.
In September 2021 Le Cirque Centre rebranded. The name Ashland Aerial Arts reflects owner Sonya Smith’s commitment to cultivating artistry in all youth and adult aerial students.
WHAT WE OFFER
Aerial Classes for youth and adults utilizing Silks, Dance and Static Trapeze, Lyra, Bungee, Rope and harness, Sling, and more.
Company classes for serious youth performers interested in deepening skill and artistry.
An end of the year school performance at the studio.
Special events, birthday parties and works in progress showings.
I am a former monkey bar junkie, competitive hurdler, backpacker, aerial dancer and body geek. Starting to dance at the ripe age of 17, I avoided many of the body image pitfalls of dance training, able instead to celebrate dance's balance of athleticism and artistry. Since 1999 I have taught movement to children and adults; from creative movement to bungee dancing, mixed aerial apparatus to ballet, contact improvisation to vertical “wall” dancing. Teaching young people to embrace the powerful capacity of their bodies and making space for complexity of their evolving identities, feels profoundly important in this tumultuous time. The joyful, challenging, exhilarating world of aerial training lends itself perfectly to this empowering work.
In 2019 Cian Murty and I made the leap into the Ashland community, purchasing the studio and creating Ashland Aerial Arts as the inclusive and evolving space it is today.
Continuing education is essential for myself and all of our instructors. I have completed aerial teacher training with Frequent Flyers (Low flying trapeze, fabric, sling); Paper Doll Militia (Level 1 Fabric, Trapeze, Lyra and Level 2 Aerial Fabric); and Circus Arts Institute (Level 1 Sling certification as well as 45 hours of Lecture and Ground Teacher Training in addition to 20 hours of Adaptive Aerial Silks/Sling/Hammock Teacher Training as a part of the Circus Arts Therapy® Training Level 1 & 2 at the Circus Arts Institute.)
In order to satisfy my own desire for physical dancing, theatricality, storytelling and authentic representation I have been privileged to work with many companies and artists across the country including BANDALOOP, Zaccho Dance Theatre, Flyaway Productions, Michelle Ellsworth, Gesel Mason, Lizz Roman and Dancers, Dance Brigade, Sara Shelton Mann, and Eat Cake Productions. I am forever grateful for the many opportunities I have had working with powerful women, creating interesting, challenging and diverse work. I am so excited to share my breadth of knowledge gleaned from two decades performing professionally, a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance with an emphasis in Aerial Dance, Pilates and GYROKINESIS certificates, and unending curiosity about what is possible.
Instructor and Administrative Support
I have been training in acrobatics since the early age of 5. Now a full blown Straps geek - I fell head over heels for all things circus in 2011 and have been utterly devoted ever since. I have completed teacher trainings by both Aaron Koz (Aerial Straps)and Paper Doll Militia (Level 1 Trapeze). I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and love for circus arts. When I am not teaching or flying find me at home with my family of four, romping through the woods or cozied up by the wood stove.
As a lifelong dancer and athlete, I was thrilled and amazed to discover the art of aerial silks at Burning Man, and upon returning home immediately sought out classes, workshops and aerial festivals in order to study aerial circus arts. I traveled to study with many talented artists, and in 2006 began performing and teaching aerial silks to our local community here in Ashland.
In 2007 I formed and directed the Curtain Climbers Aerial Dance Company, which performed regularly at various events in the Rogue Valley, including Ashland Historic Armory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Shows and First Friday Performance Art Shows at my establishment (1992 - 2017), The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant.
Passion for performing and empowering students prompted me to expand and open Catalyst Aerial Arts & Dance in Medford (2009-2012), allowing us to share our aerial skills with a wider community.
I'm delighted to continue my aerial journey here at Ashland Aerial Arts, sharing my skills and knowledge with the students, and inspiring and empowering them as they learn to climb, spin, flip and fly!
I have been training in aerial arts for 4 years, with a focus in aerial silks, from a background in gymnastics, tumbling, and competitive cheer. In high school, a circus studio opened up in my hometown, and I fell in love with the sport and community. I have been teaching aerial for over 2 years and have completed the Level 1 Silks teacher training program with Paper Doll Militia. Majoring in elementary education at Southern Oregon University, I am passionate about working with young students and helping them reach their full potential: whether in the classroom or in the studio.
I love watching live performance and supporting the magic from behind the scenes. Working on productions of all sizes I have stage managed, helped with costume changes, moved sets, built stages, trained crews in lights, sound and construction, and climbed up high on a variety of ladders.
I have a degree in sculpture and installation art from the San Francisco Art Institute and lighting bodies in motion is an evolution of that artistic eye. I started designing lights in unusual venues for modern dance friends in the 1990's and haven't stopped. I am happy to join Sonya, providing the technical support and vision of Ashland Aerial Arts, making space for all our students - even those who would rather be backstage.