Adult Training Company

Applications are closed for the 2018 Elements Training Company.  Feel free to apply for a spot on the waitlist.

Elements is the Circus Project's adult, 9-month training and performance company for the dedicated circus student. This by-audition program prepares students to pursue their art with greater intensity and to propel students towards further study, coaching, or performance. Elements offers all-around skill building in acrobatics, aerial, juggling, dance and physical theater in addition to audition-preparedness and act development. With a new program design this year, Elements has been re-imagined to focus on individual technique and skill development and to uniquely match each company member's artistic goals. All company members participate in the Core Training Program, in which students choose from dozens of available classes at their skill level, develop their circus specialties with a Circus Project training membership, and collaborate on performance opportunities with other company members. Throughout the year, company members have the opportunity to create audio-visual works, participate in community performances, create an evening-length show, and may also audition for our end-of-year production.

In addition to the Core Training program, members are also offered two additional training opportunities, a Specialty Training Focus (includes private lessons, solo development, and small group work) or a Preparatory Track Focus (includes expanded hours, private lessons, small group acts, and more).

Training Company details here:

Audition: May 19, 2018, 4:30-7:30pm
Please email academy@thecircusproject.org to register for the audition.
Audition Registration fee: $30, payable at time of registration


Youth Training Company

Applications are open for 2018-2019 Brio Training Company.  Apply below.

Brio (previously Swifts & Orbits) is the Circus Project’s 9-month training program for inspired youth ages 7-17 looking to improve their circus technique and adventure into the world of circus performance. Our newly redesigned youth program focuses on each student’s artistic goals and exploration by enabling students to select from classes in acrobatics, aerial, juggling, stage presence, dance, body awareness, improv, theater, and more. While getting to work with talented and inspiring coaches (Russ Stark from Cirque du Soleil! Austrian National Acrobatics Champ Stefan Furst!), students will have opportunities to create solo, partner, and ensemble work as they prepare for their Spring show and other projects large and small.

We also have training options for younger performers (the Jr. Core Program), by invitation-only. Please contact us for more information.

Training Company Details here:

Please email academy@thecircusproject.org to apply for 2018-2019 Brio Training Company.
(this program is for youth with previous experience in aerial, acrobatics, dance, gymnastics, or other performing/movement arts)

2017-2018 Training Companies Coaches


Kari Hunter


Kari is our Lead Coach at the Circus Project.  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.  


Russ Stark

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.

Alicia Cutaia

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 in her second season working with Bodyvox.

Alison Lockfeld

Captivated by the circus at an early age, Alison Lockfeld 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. 


Mizu Desierto

Mizu Desierto 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 her second artistic fellowship residency at Playa Summer Lake.