Coaches


Amelia Bear
Coach

Amelia found circus as a teenager, and it became an incredibly empowering catalyst for a love of movement, teaching, and eventually, arts advocacy. She’s worked with DoJump! Physical Theatre, A‐WOL Dance Collective, and Oregon Children’s Theatre, among other organizations, as an instructor and performer.

In college she studied movement and arts education extensively, and holds a minor in dance from Western Washington University. While there, she was awarded the prestigious CREATE: Combining Research, Education, and the Arts with Teaching and Entrepreneurship scholarship, for which she designed and implemented arts‐integrated learning units in Washington State public schools. She believes that artistic exploration and physical play is a vital component of every child’s education, and is thrilled to be bringing circus to the schools as an outreach coach. 


Diana Berkowitz

Diana Berkowitz
Coach

Diana began her circus career at Wise Fool New Mexico, in her hometown of Santa Fe. She has since spent the last 10+ years practicing, performing and teaching circus arts and aerial dance.

Most recently she has performed with Kazum Acrobatics, PTCirc., and the Echo Theater Company. As a certified yoga instructor, Diana’s focus is on alignment, form and breath. She uses movement arts to teach body/mind awareness, unique expression, and empowerment.  


Nick Carter
Coach

Nick was born and raised in the Portland, Oregon area. He has been an avid athlete his entire life; playing soccer, distance running, rock climbing and practicing yoga. He was first introduced to circus when two clowns came to his elementary school to perform and teach juggling, and it sparked his interest for life. In high school Nick was drawn to fire dancing and then later, acro yoga in college.

However, it was not until he discovered Cyr Wheel that he became completely enamored. With no prior experience or training he acquired a Cyr Wheel and began a disciplined practice of his own. With a high level of expertise, he now performs with Portland's Wanderlust Circus and USC entertainment company.


Jenn Cohen
Artistic Director/Coach

Jenn has worked as a professional circus performer and coach for over two decades. Her training includes: The Circus Space in London, Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theatre, sacred clown & buffoon with Sue Morrison, and Chinese acrobatics with Master Lu Yi at the San Francisco Circus Center.  Jenn has performed extensively in ensemble theaters throughout the United States, and as a solo aerial artist in Europe. From 2001 – 2004, she was a tenured instructor at the San Francisco Circus Center. She worked as a choreography consultant for companies including Teatro Zin Zanni (San Francisco) and UMO Ensemble (Seattle), and directed each of the Circus Project’s public performances. 

Jenn is known for inventing a number of original aerial apparatus’, most notably, the Single-Point Cloud Swing, the now widely used Triangle Trapeze,  the Maypole Tissu, and a variation of the Aerial Birdcage.  Jenn holds a master’s degree in Process Oriented Psychology and uses that work’s unique approach to individual and collective change to create original choreography.   


Alicia Cutaia  
Coach

Alicia Cutaia earned her BFA with honors from Point Park University with a double major in Classical Ballet and Jazz. Her previous training included scholarships at Hubbard Street Dance, North Carolina Dance Theater, and River North Dance Company. She has worked with and performed pieces by many renowned choreographers, including Lauren Edson, Jamey Hampton, Ron De Jesus, Gina Patterson, Lar Lubovitch, Louis Falco, Michael Foley, Keisha Lalama-White, Joel Hall, Lou Conte, Daniel Gwirtzman, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Daniel Ezralow, Choo-San Goh, Alan Hineline, Harrison McEldowney, Kevin O’Day, Frances Patrelle, David Storey, Margo Sappington, Christian Holder and Bianca Sapetto. Ms. Cutaia previously worked as Rehearsal Director, Costume Manager and Dancer with Eisenhower Dance, Dancer with Hubbard Street Dance and Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. She also enjoys teaching and setting choreography nationally.

Her choreography has been showcased at many choreographic festivals such as the Jazz Dance World Congress “Leo’s Choreography Competitive Event”, the “Maggie Allesee New Choreography Award”, “Michigan Youth Arts Festival”, "Dance Chicago", Harvest Contemporary Dance Festival, Kaleidoscope Dance Festival, Midwest Rad Festival and the “NSAL Mid-Michigan Chapter.” Her work "Impact" was recently set on Eisenhower Dance. Her choreography for competition studios have won many National awards. Some of Ms. Cutaia’s teaching credits include the Lou Conte Dance Studio, Oakland University, American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theater of Harlem and the Eisenhower Center for Dance. A number of Ms. Cutaia's students have been accepted on scholarship to many prestigious summer and college dance programs. Ms. Cutaia is looking forward to her second season working with Bodyvox.


Noah Fassell
Coach

Noah is the founder and Artistic Director of DreamAwake Prod., an international performance production company established in 2001. Some of his clients include HBO, Warner Bros, Cirque du Soleil, director/producer James Cameron, and Royal Caribbean Cruises. For the past two years Noah has also been working with Connect.com as their experiential marketing designer, creating unique interactive brand specific performances that capture focus within crowds and spread awareness of products and services. Having been raised on stage, Noah has been performing and directing professionally for over 30 years and his work has toured to theater festivals in Germany, Jordan, Scotland, Italy, and throughout the US. In addition to performing, he has spent over 15 years teaching adults and children various styles of physical theater, circus, parkour and freerunning and has co-designed the pedagogy for several non-profit theater and circus afterschool programs such as Vagaboom in San Francisco, The Joy Now Arts Project in Portland, and the Parkour and Freerunning Program at The Playground Gym, Portland.


Stefan Furst
Coach

Stefan began competing in gymnastics at an early age in Vienna, Austria, where he was born and raised. He attended the Coaching School for Gymnastics while simultaneously embarking on a career as a massage therapist. After competing in several National Championships as part of the Austrian National team, Stefan moved on to Sports-Acrobatics.  Stefan was a National champion in men’s pair and men’s four and made it to the top twelve at World Championships (1988) in Men’s Pair.  

He is a co-founder of the Austrian Sports-Acrobatics Federation, and coached the Austrian national team from 1987-1989. Stefan brought his acrobatic mastery to the U.S. in 1989, coaching gymnastics and sports acrobatics at Gymnastics Plus in Maryland until moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1996.

In addition to his work with the Circus Project, Stefan practices massage therapy. Stefan’s intimate knowledge of anatomy and physiology, coupled with his 30 + years of experience as an acrobatic champion and coach, have enabled him to develop a unique training methodology for partner and sports acrobatics, tailored to both children and adults, beginning through professional levels.


Kate Hoflich
Coach

Kate loves to see the growth and confidence that circus gives to her students. She has been teaching movement to people from 18-month tots to professional adults for 12 years. She has toured nationally offering workshops, been a coach for Bow and Sparrow (San Francisco), Esh Circus Arts (Boston), New England Center for Circus Arts – NECCA (Brattleboro, VT), is the director/lead coach for A-WOL Dance Collective’s professional training program, and is pleased to be part of the magic at The Circus Project

She is a graduate of the NECCA’s Professional Track Training Program where she specialized in dance trapeze and Chinese pole. She is a certified yoga instructor, has completed several aerial teacher trainings by Nimble Arts, and is a certified Cyr Wheel coach by the USA Wheel Gymnastics Federation. Her performance background includes Jo Krieter’s Flyaway Productions, Project Bandaloop, Supperclub, the Boston Circus Guild, and iExperia. She has appeared at the San Francisco Opera House, San Francisco Exploratorium, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Peabody Essex Museum, A.R.T.’s Oberon and the Boston House of Blues. In 2012 Kate was awarded the RAWArts Boston Performing Artist of the Year. She loves reading, knitting and ninjas.


Nate Hughes
Social Circus Coach

Nate Hughes began practicing circus arts in 2009 while attending Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. He was immediately drawn to juggling, tight wire, and clowning, and began performing with the Humboldt Circus. In 2012, he joined his first social circus organization, The New Old Time Chautauqua. He toured with the group for the next 5 summers, teaching workshops and performing in shows at hospitals, youth centers, senior living facilities, prisons, and mental health facilities. On these tours he saw how circus arts can be medium for rehabilitation and act as a catalyst for personal growth and change.

Then in 2015, he decided to take social circus to Guatemala and start a free circus arts education program at the Los Patojos School in Jocotenango. Funded by a crowd-sourcing campaign he designed a curriculum, taught classes, trained two teachers, started a scholarship program for the teachers, and donated over $2000 worth of circus equipment. Today, 'Circo Patojiano' is still functioning and 250 kids are receiving free circus arts classes as part of their regular curriculum.

When Nate came back to the U.S. in the summer of 2016 he performed with Circus Luminescence, Flamebouyant Productions, and by himself until hired by the Circus Project in December of 2016. He has taught and performed Circus Arts for the San Francisco Public School District, the Chameleon Theater, Motion Magic, and across the west coast and Central America. 


Kari Hunter
Lead Coach

Drawing from a background in dance, gymnastics, theater, and music, Kari has been training, performing and coaching circus arts since 2001.

Her coaching credits include the Circus Guild, Versatile Arts, Emerald City Trapeze, Le Cirque Centre, the Circus Center (San Francisco), New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA), and the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) where she served as lead aerial coach for the Professional Preperatory Program. 

Deemed an “aerialist par excellence” by the Seattle Times, Kari has graced the stage in over 30 major U.S. cities and internationally with the Seattle Opera, Pallazo Variety, Freidrichsbau Variety (Germany), Festivla Burlesco (Portugal), and Teatro Zin Zanni (Seattle), among others. 


Marina Karadjieva
Coach

Marina’s aerial career began sometime in 2000 when she first got introduced to the world of flying trapeze and aerial arts. She fell in love with the performance and self-expression aspect of the art. Marina has been a solo and a collaborative creator on a variety of productions throughout Europe, South America, California and currently in Oregon. Some of the companies she has worked with are Cirque Destino, Trapeze Arts, Kinetic Arts Center, Trapeze World, Head Over Heels Athletic Arts as a Circus Program Manager, Zippo’s Circus and more.

Later, Marina discovered her passion for teaching circus arts to kids and the benefits it has on the developing youth. In 2007 she co-founded Vagaboom! / Living Dream Arts and recently Circus In Motion. Marina is the co-author of a 2-week Circus Training Guide for teachers at Galileo Learning Center. Marina continues to spread the joy as a performance and movement arts educator at The Circus Project and schools throughout Portland.


Alison Lockfeld
Coach
 

Captivated by the circus at an early age, Alison began her circus training with preschool classes at Acrosports in San Francisco. Spending most of her life surrounded by inspiring people and immersed in the circus world Alison has learned a lot about acrobatics, dance, juggling, contortion, clowning and aerial arts. She has trained at a number of schools around the United States, Canada, Switzerland and France. Most notably the Mongolian Contortion Center in San Francisco and Kinetic Theory in Los Angeles. She also studied Psychology and Kinesiology and graduated Occidental College. Alison loves to share her skills with audiences and students.

Alison's specialty is aerial corde lisse. Her technical skill, flexibility, and comedic flair have made her a crowd favorite. She has performed at many celebrity and corporate events. She has appeared on television shows Baskets, Jump Shipp, and the NBC Upfronts. She works for entertainment companies Way 2 Much Entertainment, Eye of Newt Cirque, Wonderworld Entertainment and Kinetic Theory.  She's been in a number of shows including Cirque-A-Palooza at the Pasadena Playhouse and Cirque Montage at the Dubai Shopping festival. 


Josie Marks-McQuade
Social Circus Coach

Josie first discovered social circus in 2011 at a Phare Ponleu Selpak performance in Battambang Cambodia. In 2012 she traveled to Cusco, Perú and began training juggling, flexibility, aerial silks, acro-yoga, and street performance. Upon returning to the U.S in 2013, Josie immersed herself in the West Coast juggling community and began in-depth study of object manipulation. She has received formal instruction in physical theater and mime from James Donlon, Moshe Cohen, and Wavy Gravy, and juggling instruction from a diverse range of international artists including: Sveltlana Zueva, Erin Stephens, Frix Elting, and Pepé Malabartínez. She has worked with Circo de los Niños (México), Clowns Without Borders, Camp Winnarainbow, The International Jugglers Association, Oregon Center for the Arts, and Athletic Playground, among other organizations, in both coaching and administrative roles.

In 2016, Josie earned her B.A in Spanish Language and Culture and Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Southern Oregon University, and has since used these skills to connect with Latina communities in Oregon by providing circus programming surrounding Latin American culture and current events, in both Spanish and English.   

As a coach, Josie recognizes the power of circus arts to facilitate social change and is passionate about creating a safe, inclusive environment for students to experience and explore their creativity while also developing valuable life skills. Through her work, Josie seeks to inspire, empower, and provide a platform for individuals to share their unique stories and life experiences.


Skylark Macadamia
Assistant Coach

Skylark has spent much of her life exploring movement.  As a child she studied gymnastics, dance, and theater.  As an adult she fell in love with rock climbing in the mountains of Montana. Then in 2013, she discovered circus and has since resolved to spend as much time as possible upside-down. 

Skylark is an NASM certified personal trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist.  She has experience group fitness classes in strength, flexibility, core, barre, and metabolic conditioning. Her circus specialties are aerial hoop and flexibility although she also studies fabric, hand balancing, and aerial straps. 


Gwen O'Brien
Coach

After a fifteen-year career in the sports of rhythmic and artistic gymnastics spent training, competing, coaching, and choreographing, Gwen stumbled upon the Portland circus community where she’s coached and performed ever since.

Gwen specializes in aerial straps, contortion, and hand-balancing, however her experience covers most aerial apparatus. Gwen’s coaching style focuses on developing clean technique, well-balanced strength, and proper injury prevention strategies alongside a healthy helping of creative fun.


Kaileigh O'Neill
Coach

Kaileigh discovered her love for movement at a young age. She trained in various styles of dance before joining Mid-Columbia Ballet, an honors company through Regional Dance America. She went on to earn her BFA in dance, graduating with honors from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. During her time at UNLV she was chosen to study abroad at the Korea National Sport University in Soul. Simultaneously she earned her DK Body Balancing Pilates certification-the same method that is used to condition Cirque du Soleil performers.

Kaileigh’s professional performance career includes touring in Denmark and Israel as a soloist with Ballet Mink. She was also the featured ballet dancer and magician’s assistant in the show Steve Wyrick Ultra Magician in Branson, MO. Recently she has moved back to the PNW to join PDX Contemporary Ballet. Besides sharing her art form with an audience, Kaileigh loves sharing her passion and knowledge of dance with her students.


Ashley Oakley
Social Circus Coach

Ashley found aerial arts as a creative outlet while earning her MSW from the University of Chicago. It quickly went from a personal weekend activity to a part of her daily life and has since intertwined with her social work career. Ashley used circus as a medium for building social cohesion in underserved elementary schools in Seattle, WA, as the foundation for an anti-bully after school program in Panajachel, Guatemala, and has also lead young adult acrobatic yoga workshops for a boarding school in Dalhousie, India. 

Currently Ashley is the Policy Advocate for early childhood at the Native American Youth and (NAYA) Family Center and conducts impact evaluations for their culturally-specific Head Start programs. She keeps things on the up and up with all things aerial, and gets grounded with partner acrobatics and hooping!


Keri Padon
Coach

Keri has a passion for movement, dance, expression, play, and also for creating space—where one feels safe to open, to explore, and to be challenged, while holding space to greet ourselves exactly as we are. She grew up doing gymnastics and then pursued her passion for snowboarding where she taught, guided, and competed. She became wildly inspired by aerial arts and has been playing with silks, trapeze, and lyra since 2011, as it was a natural transition and evolution from previous styles of movement and play.

Yoga has been another fulfilling passion she has ben studying for over a decade and has been teaching since 2011 in styles of vinyasa, yin, and the unique specialty style of aerial, the coupling of a yoga practice and aerial dance where she found the playful duet of the two styles. She loves the accessibility of the aerial silks in a yogic setting and sees the apparatus as an incredibly versatile tool—to serve those in need of a little more support; as a therapeutic chrysalis with yin infusion; to offer a new, exciting way to practice; to experience divine, restorative inversions; and for those who want an extra challenge and to fly in colored fabric. She has also studied with her friends of Air Yogalates founders and Cirque du Soliel performers who have created an aerial yoga program that is infused with vinyasa, Pilates, hatha, and yin. You can also find Keri taking tribal, cabaret, and temple belly dance classes, barre and Pilates.

Keri believes in creating a safe practice space for body, mind, and spirit—both in life, and when teaching yoga and aerial. She sees yoga as a cultivation of self- and collective awareness, self-love, compassion, and a practice of being present. Her style of teaching focuses on intention; the condition of mind, heart, and breath; and finding depth. Her approach is characterized by playfulness, mindfulness, and presence. She looks forward to practicing with you!


 

Ari Rapkin
Coach

Ari's creative movement experiences include gymnastics and Aikido as a child, and latin dance, acrobatics, clown and aerial dance as an adult. Ari has performed with the Echo Theater Company, Sir Cupcake's Queer Circus, Kazüm, Wanderlust Circus, and Pelú Theater.  

Ari is inspired by collaborative creative movement- he has found that moving together with others can have an amazing transformative power to break through barriers of perceived limitations. Gravity, balance, strength and imagination all compliment each other to create new shapes and meanings that did not seem possible before achieving them. This collaboration rings true physically as well as socially for Ari; he has worked with non-profit social change organizations for many years and has been awed by the amazing transformative power of a group of people dedicated to collaboration for the purpose of making something beautiful. 


Meg Russell
Coach

Meg Russell began her circus career at the Circus Project in late 2009 as a member of one of the original training companies. Upon graduating from the company, Meg began performing with multiple companies in Portland and coaching kids’ classes for the Circus Project.

Since then, Meg has performed and trained locally and internationally, including a year attending the Scuola di Cirko Vertigo in Turin, Italy.

Meg specializes in static and single-point trapeze and contortion. She currently coaches and trains at multiple Portland-based companies and is thrilled to be part of the beautiful growth and development at the Circus Project. 


Russ Stark
Coach

Russ Stark is an Aerial Acrobat, TV and Film performer, Gymnast, Acrobatic Instructor, and Aerial Apparatus Rigger. He received his training from Bitterroot Gymnastics Center, University of Montana and Cirque du Soleil.

Russ' live performances and industrials have included Target, Wal-Mart, Rite Aid, American Music Awards (Enrique Iglesias), Grammy Awards, Fiat International, Olympic Tour of Champions, Cirque du Soleil (Quidam and Dralion), Detroit Opera House, Lady Gaga, Cirque Berserk, Ledzaerial, Cirque Mechanics just to name a few. His TV and Film performances have included Water for Elephants, Chronicles of Riddick, Walt Disney’s Zack and Cody. He is also trained in teaching Aerial Harness, Silks, Corde lisse, Spanish Web, German Wheel, Trampoline Wall, Artistic Gymnastics and Acro for Dancers.

Russ has also traveled throughout South America to do Community Outreach. He also enjoys traveling nationally conducting Acro and Gymnastics Master Classes, Workshops and Intensives. 


Jack Stocklynn  
Coach

Jack is an aerialist and clown. Jack holds a BFA in theater and Original Works from Cornish College. He studied clowning with David Taft, Sue Morrison, Sarah Liana Foster, and Russian Master teacher Ghenadi Bogdanov.

Clowning lead to the whole gamut of Circus Arts! As a performer Jack has toured nationally with DoJump!, and along the West Coast with his own blend of Clowning and Aerial dance, including the National Queer Arts fest in San Francisco, and Not All Clowns are Bozos in Seattle.  As a director Jack has been making original work with youth and adults for 10+ years. Jack is also a founding member of PTC, a queer adult circus which assists Trans individuals with fundraising for surgery costs. Jack believes firmly in the power of play, focus and hard work to make innovative circus theatre that can lift up an entire community.


Saidah Wilson  
Coach


Saidah started her upside-down career in artistic gymnastics at the age of 2. She switched to acrobatic gymnastics in 2003 and trained and competed in several women's pairs at the state, regional and national level until 2008.

Saidah has trained under, and coached alongside several great acrobatic coaches, including Arthur Davis III, Sheri Reiakvam, Stefan Furst, and Yuri Vorobyev. During and after her competitive career, Saidah has coached preschool and school-age gymnasts and acrobats. She has also studied Child Development, which allows her to bring creativity and an understanding of children's social, physical and mental progress.  Saidah currently develops acrobatic gymnastics programs and is building her circus and acrobatic repertoire.


Guest Coaches

 

Mizu Desierto
Guest Coach

Mizu is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of  Water in the Desert (WITD) and The Headwaters Theatre. She is a performer, choreographer and educator whose work explores themes of identity, truth, ecology and transformation. She has performed with Harupin-Ha Butoh (S.F.), Yoshito and Kazuo Ohno (Japan), & Diego Piñon (Mexico) and her solo work has been presented nationally and internationally. Mizu’s artistic works have been commissioned by The City of Portland and Portland Center Stage and she is a frequent educator and choreographer for The Circus Project. In addition, her projects have received  funding from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Oregon’s Regional Arts & Culture Council, Oregon Arts Commission, Portland Development Commission, The Multnomah County Cultural Coalition & The Oregon Cultural Trust. As an educator, she has taught intensive courses through Prescott College (AZ) and Portland State University. Most recently she was awarded an artistic fellowship residency at Playa Summer Lake.

 

Brittany Walsh  
Guest Coach

 

Brittany Walsh competed in the sport of gymnastics for 11 years, and also coached, as well as choreographed, for national level gymnasts for 3 years. In 2005 she joined Do Jump Extremely Physical Theatre as a company member and instructor.

While performing and touring with Do Jump, Brittany was able to hone her skills in acrobatics, aerial, and theatre. Now she primarily works as a solo hand balancing and contortion artist performing all over the globe.

She is the World Record holder in Acrobatic Archery.