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meet the circus

MEET OUR TEACHERS

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Carrie Heller , our Founder and Executive Director, is a professional trapeze artist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist. Carrie has spent over 35 years in the circus ring mastering an impressive array of skills in the circus arts. She began her circus training at the age of eight with the Florida State University Flying High Circus, and moved on to become a circus teacher, choreographer and performer. She complements her circus training with the study of dance, yoga and martial arts. Read more about Carrie.

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Jacosa Kato also has a remarkable 24-year history with Carrie, and she began studying circus arts at age four. Jacosa loves fitness, performing, and the boost of self-esteem that comes from learning and teaching the circus arts. Jacosa is an amazing acrobat and teaches just about everything at CAI. When she is not busy teaching at CAI, Jacosa is an Aerial Director at Circus Camp and the Imperial Opa Circus, and Program Director at Opa for kids.

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For 21 years Steve Seaberg has been performing acrobatic magic at Carrie’s circus classes. His favorite circus activity is hand balancing. He dazzles audiences as a circus artist at The Imperial Opa circus when he is not teaching at CAI.

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Lauren Taglialatela teaches Circus Arts Fitness and Mommy and Me classes at CAI, and her silly personality fills her classes with fun and laughter. She has been clowning around with Carrie for over 12 years, and her favorite circus activity is the Spanish web. For Lauren, circus arts is an exciting escape from her everyday life. Lauren’s son is an acrobat-in-training who loves attending CAI’s Mommy and Me classes!

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For 15 years Caroline Cunningham has been working magic at the circus, and she especially enjoys the imaginative aspect of circus arts. She teaches Circus Arts Fitness for adults and kids, and her charismatic nature makes her a particularly good fit for children. Caroline’s daughter is following in her acrobatic footsteps and takes weekly classes at CAI.

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Strongman Michael Edwards juggles many different circus talents. His favorite activities are unicycle and trapeze, and when he is not teaching at CAI he is a face painter and student. He has been working with Carrie for 12 years, and his favorite part of practicing and teaching the circus arts is the amazing sense of accomplishment he and his students feel when they master a new circus skill.

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Rob Pegel has been teaching at CAI for almost five years. He loves the trapeze, and his favorite things about CAI are interacting with people and using the equipment. Rob teaches Circus Arts Fitness classes.

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Hilary Riall helps out with our Kids Fitness Classes, Adult Fitness Classes, and private lessons, and has been with CAI for 15-18 years! She grew up in the circus and says that she loves everything about the circus - from the flying, to the spinning, and all the fun. She specializes in silks and trapeze, though she can teach a little bit of everything.

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Katie Martin Katie Martin has been a student of Carrie's for about twenty years, and an instructor at CAI (as well as other places) for about ten. Her favorite piece of equipment is the trapeze, though she says she's recently begun to fall in love with the aerial hammock. She says that circus has "always felt like home to me" and loves the inclusive and supportive atmosphere. If she had to describe herself in one word...it'd be "unexpected"!

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Jason Chiu juggles many different talents, and among his favorites is working at CAI. He teaches Circus Arts Fitness for adults and kids. Jason loves everything about the circus arts, and brings fun and laughter to classes with his silly personality.

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Cristina Holt is a hula hoop performer who also teaches hooping, Spanish Web, and aerial hammock. She's worked at CAI for the past two years, but grew up with Carrie Heller - having spent the past 12 years doing circus arts. She teaches at both Circus Camp (originally started by Carrie Heller) and Circus Arts. She says that what she loves most about circus is how it teaches a combination of confidence, love, tolerance, and acceptance of others

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Eric Prather is a new addition to the CAI family as of 2013! His circus skills involve juggling and clowning and teaches in our Social Circus Classes, Kids Fitness Classes, and Adult Fitness Classes. When he's not at CAI, he works as a coach at Cirque du Monde and as a head counselor at Circus Camp. When asked what he loves about the circus, he said "Telling magical stories while doing tremendous skills."

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Judah Andrews is a fabulous

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Alan Romanchuck spent four years with the FSU Flying High Circus and performed in numerous circus acts. As a retired banker, he loves the fact that CAI allows him to relive certain aspects of my youth. He says that CAI has motivated him to get in better physical shape and to truly enjoy helping others do the same. He teaches Juggling, Balance Boards, and Tightwire, but says his favorite "apparatus" is hand balancing!

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Imogene Hall works as an educator in the regular classroom, but is actively pursuing teaching students with special needs at CAI. She says that her favorite apparatus is the tightwire because of how challenging it is to master without assistance, but also says she's "amazed by the many positions that can be performed on each circus apparatus. Also, it is always a joy observing students perform varied movements with expressions of confidence." She teaches in our Social Circus classes, as well as our Therapy small groups and Summer Camp.

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Katina Dunkerly is teaching for her third year at CAI. She teaches Circus Arts Therapy, Circus Arts Social Summer, hoops, beginner trapeze and Spanish web, and outside of CAI she is a Neurodevelopmental Teacher for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She has a wonderful imagination, and she enjoys hoops but is also falling in love with the trapeze.


OFFICE STAFF

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Michelle Ampong joined the Circus Arts Institute in 2010 and returned after having 2 girls in 2014. She doesn't partake in the off-the-ground circus arts much, but she can sure juggle the complicated office tasks with the greatest of ease. Her can-do attitude and positive spirit brings the happy to our Circus every day.

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Olivia Andrade occasionally helps in the background in the office of the Circus Arts Institute. However, she is an aspiring aerialist specializing in Trapeze as well as a member of the Imperial Opa Circus. She loves circus because she feels it to be the epitome of artistic expression through physical movements.


PAST TEACHERS

BrianArmistead

Brian Armistead was introduced to Carrie and Circus Arts through a friend in 2010 and ended up working the Summer Social Camp. After a short absence he returned in 2012 to work both CAT and CAF as a spotter, hand balancing assistant and JIT (juggler in training). His favorite circus activities are hand balancing and the trapeze. Brian loves many aspects of the circus especially watching kids grow in strength and confidence. In addition to the circus, Brian is a RYT 200 hour and teaches around the Atlanta area. He can be described as jovial and reposeful.

Alison Garey

Alison Garey started at CAI when she was only 6 years old and continued here until she was 16. After a short break for college where she got your BBA in Marketing, Alison returned and has been back for the past two years teaching a variety of fitness and therapy classes. Her favorite apparatus is the trapeze, but she's been enjoying learning silk recently. As to what she loves about circus, she says "It's a positive environment for self expression. Being on the equipment is like taking a break from the rest of the world. It's good for you both physically and mentally."

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Sallie Burn , who hold a Masters of Special Education degree, feels like she’s under the stars at CAI. Her favorite part of working here is that she can have so much fun while teaching Circus Arts Therapy and Circus Arts Social Summer camp. She loves the trapeze, and her fun-loving nature combined with her over 30 years of special education experience make her sessions enjoyable for everyone.

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After 15 years working with Carrie at the circus, Allen Freedman is a master of the rings! He teaches rings at CAI and loves the challenge and fun of all varieties of circus arts.

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At the young age of ten Lili Spenle began taking classes with Carrie. After a break, she returned to CAI and began teaching in 2007. She teaches Circus Arts Fitness classes, and she also leads corporate events and social parties. Lili loves the variety of the circus, and feels it can fit anybody’s personality, regardless of age, gender or background.


GUEST TEACHERS

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Morgaine Rosenthal began training with Carrie in 1990 in Atlanta. As she grew up, she quickly realized that circus arts would be a lifelong passion. She attended the collegiate circus program at Florida State University, and with the encouragement of her parents and Carrie, applied to the Professional Aerial Program at The San Francisco Circus Center in 2007. After two years of rigorous training, she has created a solo corde lisse (rope) act and an aerial straps duet with her aerial partner, Ryan Webb. They recently performed their act at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. When Morgaine is in town, she teaches private lessons on corde lisse/rope and straps at CAI.

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Kasumi Kato has been a fan of the circus since the young age of one year old, when her sister Jacosa started learning circus arts. Just like her sister, Kasumi started taking lessons when she was just four years old. She teaches fabric, trapeze, Spanish web, corde lisse, and acrobatics at CAI, and when she’s not teaching at CAI she is a Circus Camp Aerial Manager at CircEsteem in Chicago and an Instructor at other Atlanta studios. Her clownish personality makes her classes lots of fun, and she loves the team-work, strength-building, artistic elements, and self-confidence that are all a part of classes at CAI.


WE FONDLY REMEMBER

Mary Ann Hart and Circus Arts Institute (CAI) Founder Carrie Heller had an amazing 24-year history together, since the time when Carrie was teaching at New Moves Studio in Little Five Points. Her favorite apparatus was the trapeze, and Mary Ann was also a professional mime, clown, puppeteer and Nurse Practitioner "Very Merry” for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care. She loved that circus arts made her stronger and more able to face challenges, and she particularly enjoyed working with other people. She would describe herself as "impish,” and although she was on temporary leave from CAI, she always planed to continue teaching all aspects of circus arts when she returned, including juggling!