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Emerald City Trapeze Arts Studio in SODO Seattle Fully Indoor Rig

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Meet the Staff

Melissa Knowles

~ Instructs: Handstands, Flexibility, Aerial, and Partner Acro

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
Circus started for me with Dream Science Circus in Bellingham WA.

What is your circus background?
I have a background in Fine Art, specifically sculpture that turned into performance art toward the end of college. I use performance as a form of activism to challenge or bring attention to the things around us, to spread joy, laughter, and to find meaning and connection.

I went down the circus rabbit hole around 15 years ago, with Dream Science Circus, and then the Bellingham Circus Guild once it was created. Then I went the circus school route. I finished the Professional training program at NECCA in 2010 and taught there until moving to Seattle in 2018. I have also been touring on and off in the US, Europe, and Australia with companies such as Nimble Arts, C!RCA, and Acrobatic Conundrum and am still an active member in the Boston Circus Guild.

What is a fun fact about yourself?
I love dark chocolate!


Regan Powers

Admin Staff

What do you instruct or what is your position at Emerald City Trapeze Arts?
I am a member of the admin team!

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
My circus journey began when I moved to Seattle after highschool. I stumbled upon a group of fire dancers at a park, bought a pair of fire fans the next day, and my journey quickly snowballed into AcroYoga, dance, aerial arts, and trapeze!

What is your circus background?
I graduated with a BS in Exercise Science and Wellness from Bastyr University, and used ECTA as my internship to dive into the world of circus performing. Since then, I have taken on the role of performance director of the local event production company WAVES Presents, joined dance and circus troupes in Seattle and Portland, and performed at festivals across the West Coast such as EDC, Shambhala, Imagine, and OCF.

What is a fun fact about yourself?
In highschool, I set the national deadlifting record for my height/weight/age at 265lb!


Abigail Leong

~ Instructs: Cyr Wheel

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
I began my circus journey doing flying trapeze in Oakland, California, and picked up Cyr Wheel on a whim after moving to Seattle. I’ve been spinning ever since!

What is your circus background?
I did flying trapeze for six years at Trapeze Arts Oakland and Emerald City Trapeze, and have been practicing Cyr at Emerald City Trapeze for the last two years!

What is a fun fact about yourself?
When I am not at the circus, I work in podcast production!


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.


Israel Cavazzi

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
Started flying in Austin, Texas in 2014. Moved on to other jobs over the years until I had a realization that all I wanted to do was to fly. Changed my career goals and now I’m in north americas best trapeze school.

What is your circus background?
I started off as an instructor and worked all over the world —  Thailand, Dominican Republic, New York, Washington, etc.

What is a fun fact about yourself?
I’m kind of a hitch hiking juggle junky that went circus professional. Nothing about my life would be considered normal. I love it.


Katie Sokolowski

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze, Fit to Fly

What do you instruct or what is your position at Emerald City Trapeze Arts?
Flying Trapeze and Fit to Fly

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
My circus journey began at The Florida State University, in Tallahassee, Florida. Upon venturing out to college, I was determined to find a way to keep my love for gymnastics alive. To my surprise, I discovered FSU had its very own big top, with an extensive circus performance program… it is safe to say, I immediately fell in love with circus arts.

What is your circus background?
At FSU I gained experience in many acts including Russian bar, duo lyra, acrobatic jumprope, Spanish web, triple trapeze, trampoline, and flying trapeze. Post college, I packed away my bachelor of science in sport management, and truly ran away with the circus. I’ve been a touring flying trapeze artist ever since, and its taken me to almost every state in the USA, and most recently Mexico and France. I aim to constantly broaden my horizons, therefore I also have professional experience performing Russian bar and silks at the Dolly Parton Smoky Mountain Adventure show, trampoline wall at the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Sport Awards, and you can find me around slam dunking at half time games (off a mini trampoline of course).

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I am one of two female flyers who has performed a forward over, over Jason English, in an iron cross, on the world’s only criss cross flying trapeze rig with The Flying Royals.


Deon Fox

~ Instructs: Rope, Flying Trapeze

What do you instruct or what is your position at Emerald City Trapeze Arts?
Flying Trapeze and Fit to Fly

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
I began my circus journey 2 years ago in this magical school, Emerald City Trapeze Arts. I needed a break from my regular 9-5 job and went online one day to look for some fun things to do. Since I grew up doing gymnastics I was looking for some tumbling classes but couldn’t find any in the area for adults, but I found a circus school that had flying trapeze, so I signed up. Four weeks later, I left my job and dove head first into circus. Never thought to turn back.

What is your circus background?
My circus background is limited but I’ve performed in flying trapeze, trampoline wall and rope acts in seattle. Mainly at Emerald City Trapeze Arts!

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I love crocheting, it’s a mindless relaxing activity that is almost the complete opposite of circus.


Dana Karash

~ Instructs: Flying Trapeze

What do you instruct or what is your position at Emerald City Trapeze Arts?
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!


Jenny Penny

Instructs: Aerial/ Acro/ Hammock/ Flex

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
In Seattle in 2004.

What is your circus background?
I am an Aerialist, Acrobalancer, Fire performer, Circus entertainer, Burlesque dancer and Freak. I have been performing in Seattle and around the globe since 2004. For the past ten years, I have been instructing partner balancing, aerial, and fire arts in Seattle; I have been at Emerald City Trapeze for most of those years. My talents have been featured at venues such as The Gorge, WaMu Theater, the Gramercy Theater (NYC,) Electric Daisy Carnival (Vegas/Delhi) and many local venues large, small, and longer here.

What is a fun fact about yourself? 
I’m a human blockhead.


Terry Crane

~ Instructor: Aerial Rope

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
I was sitting in the makeshift bleachers of Oberlin College’s gymnasium-cum-circus auditorium watching a fairly uninspired show when I saw an aerialist do a scintillating rope act. I didn’t know where or when or how, but I would learn to do what I watched that night. The journey has took me to San Francisco, Montreal, Switzerland, France, all across the globe, to muddy arenas and soviet circus palaces, Beijing wushu enclaves, jerry-rigged scaffoldings in tropical jungles and white sand deserts. Worth it.

What is your circus background?
I am an alumnus of the National Circus School of Montreal. I have performed for Cirque Starlight, Circus Monti, Circus Flora, Teatro Zinzanni, and with my own companies, Circus Syzygy and Acrobatic Conundrum. I also do corporate events, threadbare collaborations, and am an intercontinental rope battle champion.

What is a fun fact about yourself? 
In addition to rope, I also perform Cyr wheel, dance trapeze, partner aerials and partner acrobatics. I once replaced a pregnant Rachel Nehmer as the flying half of Duo Madrona. Also, I can touch my nose with my tongue and my favorite color is forest green.


Avery Cherie

~ Instructor: Event Manager | Spanish Web, Aerial Hoop, Silks, Rope, and Teardrop Trapeze

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at Circus Juventas. I was 11 years old, walked into the school to see a show, not expecting much. I was BLOWN away by seeing kids my age do some incredible things, with professional level lighting, sound, costumes, makeup and all! I was hooked, and signed up before I left the building that night.

What is your circus background?
I spent 11 years with Circus Juventas in Minnesota training under some incredible coaches from across the globe. Since then, I’ve performed around the world with shows of all shapes and sizes. I’ve worked on an equestrian circus, and a motorcycle daredevil stunt show, as well as competing in, and winning the young-adult age group of, a circus festival in Sweden. I’ve worked on 200 person productions, and shows where then entire cast and crew is 4 people including myself. I love it all!

What is a fun fact about yourself? 
I invented an apparatus! It’s called a teardrop trapeze, and it is my pride and joy! I describe it as the best parts of dance trapeze and aerial hoop.


Lisa Jackson

~ Instructor: Flying Trapeze and Cloud Swing

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
I got myself a groupon to TSNY Chicago 7 years ago. I turned down the first opportunity I had to fly, because I was too scared, so I forced myself to take a class to get over my fear of heights.

What is your circus background?
I worked at TSNY Chicago for 4 years, TSNY Boston for one. I performed in Malaysia and taught in Israel for a little while, and I have happy been coaching at ECTA for 2.5 years now.

What is a fun fact about yourself? 
I can teach beginners flying trapeze in 7 languages!


Sarah Brownstein

~ 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 her 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, and I am currently away from ECTA on my first pro circus contract. I’m performing with the Flying Cortes at Shrine Circuses across the country.

What is a fun fact about yourself? 
Sarah is begrudgingly the 1999 step aerobics champion of the Pichincha region of Ecuador.


Photo Credit: Pete Saloutos

Katie Herndon

~ Instructor: Aerial Silks, Rope, and Straps

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
I grew up on a farm out in central Washington; climbing, tumbling, and creating extravagant circus shows for imaginary audiences.

What is your circus background?
While in university, I was part of the sports acrobatics team, competing with division I schools at the national level. My acrobatics and coaching background led me into the wonderful world of circus arts, and brought me into Emerald City Trapeze, where I began to learn and teach aerial, acrobatics, and flying trapeze. Flying trapeze led me to Europe, where I worked with the Flying Aces doing rigging and flying in a traditional circus. My journey continued with Aida Cruise lines; performing aerial and acrobatics for audiences all over the world. I have continued to learn and grow, working with coaches in Europe, Montreal, Argentina and Las Vegas.

What is a fun fact about yourself?
I actually have incredible stage fright…?
I play the cello.
I nerd out on anatomy.
I’m addicted to ice cream.


Julie Istvan

~ Instructor: Aerial Lyra and Silks

Where, when, and how did your circus journey begin?
I took my first silks class at ECTA IN 2010. I then spent a month in Costa Rica training. Lyra, Sling and Dance Trapeze came along the way. My pre circus background consist of Ballet, Jazz, Tap Tae Kwon Do and Yoga.

What is your circus background?
I’ve done most of my training here at ECTA. I do enjoy taking trips to Las Vegas for “traincations”. I’ve preformed in several of our professional shows, I am a resident aerialist at Suite in Bellevue and I also work for Circus Werks which is a performing company, we perform in various places around the NW

What is a fun fact about yourself?
I also enjoy mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding and traveling


Tiffany Rivera

~ Pole Dance Instructor, Active Flex, and Contortion

Tiffany has been pole dancing since April 2016 and immediately fell in love with the community. She has a prior background in dance, collegiate cheer, and does Mongolian contortion which is her second love.
When not pole dancing you can find her running, studying for the MCAT, or having onesie movie night. She loves all things cats, wine, and science.


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: info@emeraldcitytrapeze.com