Meet the Staff

Sarah Brownstein

Operations Director | Instructs: Fitness and Flying Trapeze

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
My circus journey began with a magazine article on a flight to Southeast Asia. The article talked about how it was now possible to take flying trapeze classes. After relocating three times over eight years, I finally found flying trapeze in Austin, Texas. It was love at first flight. My love of flying has been making important life decisions for me ever since.

What is your circus background?
I initially learned to fly and teach trapeze in Austin, Texas. I have been teaching and performing at Emerald City Trapeze Arts since July 2016. I had my first circus contract in 2020, performing Flying Trapeze and Spanish Web with the Flying Cortes at Shrine Circuses.

What is a fun fact about yourself? 
I begrudgingly admit that I am the 1999 step aerobics champion of the Pichincha region of Ecuador.


Stella Bailey

~ Aerial Arts

I started my adventure into the circus world back in 2019 after taking an intro to aerial silks class, which coincidentally was the same day I fell in love with aerial rope. Coming from a background of ballet and competitive gymnastics, it has been wonderful to transition into something that offers so much freedom to be creatively explorative. Before Emerald City, I had the pleasure of teaching aerial silks and performing rope, silks, duo silks, and aerial hammock with Ethereal Arts Northwest from 2020 to 2022. Becoming an instructor and having the opportunity to share this beautiful art that is so inclusive and available to any and everyone has truly been an honor, and I cannot wait to continue to learn and grow as a part of this new community.


Mari Sharpe

~ Aerial Arts

After a lifetime of love for performance art, Mari received her first company ballet contract at age 17. This led her to dance corps, demi-soloist, & soloist roles in numerous classical & contemporary ballets under directors from Canyon Concert Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Denver Ballet Theatre, & more. After deciding to broaden her artistic voice through circus, Mari attended a pro-track acrobatic intensive at SANCA Seattle. She has since utilized the results of her meticulous dance & circus training through her award winning choreography, featured roles in music video productions, & as a fine art subject in works published by NYT best selling authors & hung in high profile galleries around the world. However, Mari is always living as her truest self under the lights on stage as an acrobat, aerialist, & dancer of many styles. Mari feels truly honored to be a part of the vibrant Seattle circus community – blessed to have performed with many special companies, including Acrobatic Conundrum, Valtesse, and now finally ECTA itself.


Brian Flint

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze

Brian is a veteran flying trapeze performer and instructor with over 25 years of experience. After helming ECTA as Chief Instructor for 5 years between 2010-2013 and 2015-2017, he is back to share his experience. He performed professionally as a flying trapeze catcher for many years, culminating in his dream job as a catcher for Cirque du Soliel’s Mystere show in Las Vegas.


Rex Lee

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze

Back in 2009, inspired by Carrie from Sex and the City, Rex tried a trapeze class at TSNY Baltimore. From that day on, all they wanted to do was become a flying trapeze coach. In 2014, that dream became a reality, and Rex has since then enjoyed sharing their passion for flying trapeze all over the world. Rex fell in love with ECTA last winter, and is very excited to be back! When not on the rig, Rex enjoys swimming, hanging out with people and/or cats, and talking about how scary but necessary trampoline is.


Lazaro Leon-Miller

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze

Hailing from Sarasota, FL, Andres grew up in the Sailor Circus program from 6th grade to his senior year. He performed in handbalancing, teeterboard, unicycle, and was the catcher on the flying trapeze. He became a beach lifeguard almost immediately after high school and got his EMT license after two years on the beach. While in school for nursing, he taught trapeze and had random circus gigs all over the country and some of the world. Although nursing school did not work out at the time, circus has always been a HUGE part of his life. After returning to his hometown of Sarasota in 2017, he became a full time employee at the Circus Arts Conservatory (Sailor Circus) but subsequently left after the pandemic restricted them from having lessons or classes. Now that most everything has opened back up, he’s excited to become the best instructor and catcher that he can be!


Laura Schoop

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
I was 19, coming out of a decade or so of competitive gymnastics. I knew I wanted to continue pursuing acrobatics, but I wanted to embrace more creativity and artistic movement than I was able to as a gymnast. I was so fortunate to have both an amazing aerial studio and a flying trapeze school in my college town (Canopy Studio and Leap Trapeze in Athens, GA), so I took my first classes and I was hooked!

What is your circus background?
I began as an aerialist, training primarily on fabric for about four years at Canopy Studio, with a bit of flying trapeze on the side. After graduating from college I took off to Vermont and spent 10 months training in NECCA’s intensive program majoring in cyr wheel. Post-NECCA, I went straight to teach and perform with Creactive at Club Med Punta Cana, where I began to focus primarily on flying trapeze. Since then I’ve found myself bouncing between Seattle and Vegas, teaching and performing as I go!

What is a fun fact about yourself?
I once broke both my ankles at the same time during an audition and I still got in.


Kevin Vu

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
Just a little over 4 years ago in Santa Monica.

What is your circus background?
Kevin started in movement arts just over 4 years ago in 2017 on the gymnastics equipment in Original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica. He went frequently to play on the traveling rings and eventually found community among the other patrons of the space. He met people from all walks of life, among them, cheerleaders, dancers, ninjas, acrobats, and aerialists, the last of which introduced me to silks. His dabbling in silks brought me to TSNY Los Angeles on the Santa Monica Pier, not a stone’s throw away from Original Muscle Beach. There, he found and fell in love with flying trapeze. He’s since spent time both exploring the sport and learning how best to teach it.


Nate Dee

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze & Partner Acrobatics

Nate began his circus journey at Circus Harmony in St. Louis, Missouri where he joined the acrobatic troupe “The St. Louis Arches”. He went on to continue his training at the National Circus School in Montreal, Quebec. Nate has spent the last several years teaching and performing a variety of disciplines including banquine, Russian bar, and most recently flying trapeze. In 2021, he began to work full time as a flying trapeze instructor and performer, and he is excited to continue to grow and develop in this field.


Peeps (Sarah) Piepho

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
Years ago on a Groupon here at Emerald City! I took one class and was hooked!

What is your circus background?

I was a competitive gymnast growing up, but left that behind me. Then I found Emerald City as a student and my life changed! I had a corporate job for 15 years until one day I decided to run away to the circus. It was a dream to perform for the Flying Pages, the Flying Royals, and Emerald City Trapeze (of course!).

What is a fun fact about yourself? 
I love dark chocolate and getting 8 hours of sleep!


Dana Karash

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
I was given a flying trapeze class as a birthday present. Even though the rig setup at Jordan’s Furniture was absurd, I was instantly hooked.

What is your circus background?
I have a gymnastics background, but wasn’t introduced to circus until I was in my 30’s. I’m currently training in flying trapeze and standing partner acro, but still keep a day job. Prior to moving to Seattle in 2018, most of my training was through TSNY NY & DC. I’ve performed for a number of events and fundraisers in the DC area. I was proud to be part of Sweet Spot’s production of Smoky Mirrors – an aerial performance that explored expectations of gender and sexual identity. A huge DC treat was performing for the Halloween festivities at Obama’s White House – THREE times!!

What is a fun fact about yourself?
I’ve used more than 14,000 yards of yarn in knitting projects!


Beau Elliott

~ Instructs: Pole

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?

I started circus in 2012 after meeting a few slackliners while climbing at my local crag. They introduced me to a group of circus climbers and I started learning how to rig and perform on silks. After about 1-2 years of delving into several different circus disciplines, I became friends with a few pole dancers who convinced me to start training. I started training with a friend at a local bar and after 3 months he opened a pole studio. He asked me to teach and that started my teaching career.

What is your circus background?

I’ve performed all over Hawaii and California while working as a contract aerialist. Mostly for silks and Lyra but tampered down once I started competing professional pole.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I’m actually a terrible dancer but become quite graceful off the floor.



Amanda Thornton

~ Instructor: Aerial Arts

I have been a circus artist for over a decade and performing aerial arts since 2012. I discovered aerial when I was a wee college student studying the ways of theatre arts and storytelling. I desired deeply to be the verity act among my peers, and I was fortunate enough to find a little circus collective in my college town of Bellingham Washington. This story ends the usual way, with me running off with the circus, but not before moving to the great emerald city just to the south. 

In Seattle, I developed a specialty in duo aerial silk with my partner. I have had the opportunity to work and play in the spiegeltent at Teatro Zinzanni, teach people from all walks of life at SANCA, Arcadia, Teatro Zinzanni, and Umo on Vashon Island. I have performed in many different venues around the greater Seattle area, and some of my favorite performing experiences include the Living Computer Museum, The Museum of Flight, Cabarets at Teatro Zinzanni, and my wedding where I got to marry (and perform with) my best friend and aerial partner!

When I am not flying in the air or standing on top of another person, I am practicing tricks and skills underwater as a mermaid! 

For me, the circus has always been about collaborating, which is one reason duo aerial speaks so deeply to me, but also why I adore teaching. I believe together we can create amazing feats and I love helping others see they are capable of impossible-seeming things!


Zoe Spiro

Circus Arts Manager | Instructor: Cyr Wheel

About Zoe Spiro (She/They)
Zoe got a start in the circus in 2014, when Zoe met some acrobats on a beach in Hawaii who welcomed them into their incredible community of circus artists. A competitive swimmer growing up, Zoe took to aerial arts quickly. Zoe first started learning silks and standing acrobatics but began shifting their focus entirely to Cyr Wheel when she had to move away from their original circus community. As she traveled more, Zoe began to find other Cyr artists all over the world and practiced alongside them. Ultimately, Zoe began performing across the country. Emerald City Trapeze Arts is lucky to have Zoe teaching Cyr Wheel and greeting students at the front desk!


Loki White

~ Cyr Wheel

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?

My circus journey began at Emerald City Trapeze with Trapeze. I loved it, but I decided to give all the other classes except Cyr Wheel a try. I thought each class was amazing, and I wanted to continue; however, I still didn’t want to try Cyr Wheel. When I finally tried it, I didn’t like it. Yet after three years of intensive Cyr Wheel training, I LOVE it more than anything!

What is your circus background?

I struggled more with cyr wheel than with any other apparatus and it took me way longer than other students to learn anything. It was one of the most frustrating things that I’ve ever done, but when I finally did it, it was one of the most rewarding and fun! I took every Cyr Wheel class offered and spent even more time in open gym. I’ve spent the last part of my training fighting not to backseat teach students coming through class because I know the difficulties. I’m very excited to finally be able to use the hard lessons from my training to help others learn.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

Most people don’t want to get old but I’m excited about it! I get stronger each year and someday if I get enough wrinkles people will stop thinking I’m a teenager.


Parker Madison

~ Trampoline

I started gymnastics (Trampoline and Tumbling) in 2006 at 15 years old. I made it to Nationals every year and placed 1st on Level 10 Double Mini and 2nd on Level 10 Trampoline. After moving to Junior Elite Trampoline, I placed 2nd at Nationals. I eventually made it to Senior Elite on both Double Mini and Trampoline. After receiving a wide variety of coaching from World and Olympic class coaches and competing up to an international level, it was time to join the circus, as I had always dreamed of. I competed in Trampoline for over 10 years and coached during a majority of those years. It is an excellent foundation for motion and one of the best developers of proprioception. Trampoline has given me the bodily awareness to understand what I’m doing at all points in the air which translates very well to most circus apparatuses. I love teaching Trampoline because of its usefulness in breaking down motion and seeing people learn to understand their bodies.


Jen Kramer

~ Aerial

I started dancing and performing at a young age with a focus on classical ballet. As much as I loved dancing on the ground, it wasn’t what I wanted to pursue. After years of missing movement as an adult, I discovered a small aerial studio in Denver and was instantly hooked. I started on fabric but fell in love with trapeze and then rope. As I continued developing in the art, the need for classes also grew, so I began teaching in 2011 and eventually owning Miraas studio in 2015, which later became Gravity Aerial Arts in 2017.

I have performed in productions across the United States with showcases, private events, and as a regular artist at The Clocktower Cabaret in Denver. I also had the opportunity to teach in Thailand with a Social Circus program.
I am so excited to expand my circus family in the PNW and love helping people along their aerial journey by creating a fun and supportive learning environment.



We are proud to provide our schools with instructors and staff from all over the globe, with diverse backgrounds, talents, and teaching styles. If you’re interested in joining our team, please contact our team at: [email protected]