2017 PNW Circus Workshop Weekend

Versatile Arts is delighted to present our fourth annual workshop weekend May 26nd through 29th, featuring some of the best aerial and acrobatic instructors in the Pacific Northwest as well as some very special out-of-town guests.  Workshops range from beginner-appropriate to intermediate/advanced, so please check the prerequisites for each one before registering.

If any workshops fill and get a waitlist, we hope to offer them again on Monday. If there is a workshop you would like to see on Monday from any of our local or visiting instructors, please let us know! Monday is reserved for your requests.

To register, if you do not already have a VA login, you must first fill out our online release form and then set up your password at my.versatilearts.net. Then you can log in and use the workshop weekend registration page, or push the big button below.

Your registration fee ($5/class up to a maximum of $15) covers group warm-ups all three days, open gym time on Sat, Sun, and Monday and two TBD lunchtime activities. Let us know what you’d like to do over lunchtime: discussion groups, lectures, guided stretching, more group warmups..??

Registration deadline is May 5th, after which tuition increases by 10%.

Here’s an overview of the weekend schedule, for your planning purposes. It also shows you where each workshop will be held. And here are the bios of all the amazing instructors (you can also click on a name below to see their bio).

Refunds/Cancellations: We reserve the right to cancel any workshop with fewer than 4 participants and will provide a full refund in those cases. Students who cancel their registration before the deadline (which is 3 weeks in advance) will receive an 80% refund. Cancellations received less than 3 weeks in advance but more than 48 hours in advance will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations less than 48 hours before the first workshop are not eligible for a refund.

Coming from out of town? Here’s some handy visitor information on housing and transportation.

Questions? Email us!

(this will take you to my.versatilearts.net, where you must first set up a password if you are new to VA)

Rope and Tissu


Vertical Beats with Ezra Weill

Friday, May 26th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 10 students

In Vertical Beats we will be exploring all the different shapes and styles of vertical beats out there, and believe you me there are oh so many. We will be covering ways into to beats and out of beats, to help you put all those awesome tricks you have together into one fluid, bad-ass sequence.

Prerequisite: Controlled, horizontal windmill/wheeldown.

‘Obscureography’ for Fabric with Jenn Bruyer

Saturday, May 27th, 9:30 – 11:30 am
Monday, May 29th, 9:30 – 11:30 am
Cost: $50; Max: 8 students

A skillfully curated selection of surprising transformations evolving out of unique but accessible shapes and seemingly dynamic manoeuvres.

Movement examples may include: exploration and alternatives to ‘Belay’, direction changing drops, non-manual wraps, alternative variations of well-known skills and of course, obscure aerial items of interest.

Aerial fabric is a limitless source of creative freedom, problem solving and personal discovery. Discover my particular brand of aerial panache! Together we will balance strength, poise, personality and transitional intricacy with beautiful equilibrium.

Prerequisites: Understanding of windmill (wheeldown), ability to be in the air for 2 minutes

Vertical Partnering with Jenn Bruyer & Alex Allan

Saturday, May 27th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 12 students

The vertical apparatus allows for an unusual and compelling way to interact with a partner using height, tension and vertical space. The relationships and transitions between them can be as beautiful as they are dynamic and surprising.

This workshop will introduce the various ways to partner on the vertical apparatus. Working with some of our favorite examples of partnering; we will explore the various categories of partner work, including: role reversal, hand to hand (with and without tail), tension pole, flier & tail, mirroring and more.


  • Comfort climbing to the top of the Cathedral
  • Proficient in windmill/wheeldown
  • Ability to straddle up in the air


Rope Release with Alex Allan

Saturday, May 27th, 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 9 students

A large reason for perfecting dynamic technique is so that we can harness enough power to create a moment of weightlessness. In this magical fraction of a second we have the opportunity to release, to twist, to flip and slide. Learning these specific skills removes the predictability of wrapped drops and adds a dynamic and explosive quality to choreography.

In this workshop we will apply your knowledge and technique of dynamic movement. Using a variety of beat pathways, students will learn new entrances into wraps, open drops and a range of release moves. Students of various levels will be guided through these skills with the appropriate progressions so they can continue the mastery at home.

Prerequisites: Participants should feel comfortable with dynamic technique/beats and have started working on open drops.

Vertical Choreography with Alex Allan

Sunday, May 28th, 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Monday, May 29th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 9 students

When we learn Aerials we often learn a skill here, a skill there, slowly building our vocabulary. These are our words. The more words we have the more complex and compelling the story we tell. Our sentence structuring – how we sequence skills together and for what reason – plays a vital role in creating fluid and seamless sequences.

In this workshop you will learn a piece of original choreography. This will not only expose you to new techniques, skills and transitions but to a new perspective on creating dance like movements in the air. We will explore the use of space, timing, directionality and shape in order to create work that surpasses aerial arts and becomes dance.

Prerequisite: Students should feel confident being on the apparatus for at least 1 minute. S-wrap, Double Star, Scissor Hip Key in the air.

Fresh Skills for Fabric with Jenn Bruyer

Sunday, May 28th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 8 students

I’ve been away from VA for a WHILE! And I’ve been busy busy in the fabric lab. Come see what I’ve been cooking up.

Students can expect to work on new and possibly weird things. For those who have worked with me before (especially on an ongoing basis) we will continue to build on some things we were doing previously, as well as explore new concepts. Hipkey drops, combos, direction changing drops, complex wraps, simple transitions, and all sorts of fun fresh skills.

Prerequisite: Proficient windmill/wheeldown, Solid Hipkey Knee Catch, ability to be in the air for 2 minutes

Vertical Object Manipulation with Ezra Weill

Sunday, May 28th, 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 8 students

In Vertical Object Manipulation we will be looking at how you might want to take an object up on the rope or tissu with you. I will be sharing my ideas that have helped me with developing my hat and rope work. This workshop will be less about teaching specific ticks and more about giving you the tools you might need to make an act with possibly a hoover vacuum cleaner.

Please bring any and all of the things that you would like to take up with you on the rope or tissue.

Prerequisite: Comfort and ease or vertical apparatus such that you can safely add another thing to think about.

Get Hitched!: the wonderful world of double thigh hitches with Kim Zmolek

Sunday, May 28th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 8 students

Hitch (noun)

  • the act or fact of fastening, as to something, especially temporarily
  • any of various knots or loops made to attach a rope to something in such a way as to be readily loosened
  • an unexpected difficulty, obstacle, delay, etc

Experience the world of double thigh hitches in this split fabric workshop! We will explore pathways into split fabric thigh hitches as well as interesting poses and transitions and dramatic exits to come out of your wraps. This is an Intermediate/Advanced workshop. Students should have a minimum of one year of vertical training and have endurance to stay in the air for 4 minutes.

Prerequisite: Students should be able to invert with good technique, hold a stable straddle up in the air, be proficient at double crochet and show good core and leg engagement in rotations and drops.

Connecting with the Floor with Alex Allan

Monday May 29th, 9:30 – 11:30 am
Cost: $50; Max: 6 students

As we learn Aerial Arts we are naturally focused on developing a vocabulary of techniques and skills in the air. This is a crucial part of our aerial education and yet we often neglect the ground. In each act there is a moment of being on the floor and interacting with our apparatus before we ascend and after we descend. Without a specific dance background it’s easy to feel awkward here or not know how to create movement that integrates these threshold moments into the aerial section of the act.

In this workshop we will explore how to create movement on the floor with our apparatus as if using it as a dance partner. We will take aerial movements and connect them to the floor and take simple floor choreography and use the apparatus to transform it into something unique. Our apparatus can support us, help us travel across the floor and aid us in executing dance manoeuvres that are not possible alone. My hope is that students leave this workshop with a new perspective on floor choreography and a methodology to take away and continue their own exploration.

Prerequisite: Intermediate+ Participants should have a good range of vocabulary on rope or fabric and have worked on their apparatus for 1+yrs.



Queering Aerial Technique with Megan Gendell

Saturday May 27th, 9:30 – 11:30 am
Cost: $50, Max: 8

We’ll explore ways to subvert, innovate, and reinvent standard aerial poses, which tend to be traditionally feminine and presentational, and discover shapes that feel more authentic, nuanced, expressive, surprising, or just plain weird.

Prerequisites: For students capable of front balance and ankle hang.

Beginning Adventures in Duo Trapeze with Megan Gendell

Saturday May 27th, 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Cost: $50, Max: 8 students

In this introduction to duo trapeze, we’ll explore sharing the trapeze with a partner, safely supporting someone else’s weight, and moving in relation to another body in the air. Students will learn basic duo trapeze skills, as well as technique for basing and flying. We’ll also spend time inventing unique weight-sharing positions and creating exciting shapes with two bodies on one trapeze.

Prerequisite: For students capable of front balance, ankle hang, and inverting in the ropes.

Single-Point Trapeze with Tamara (The Trapeze Lady)

Saturday May 27th, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Cost: $50, Max: 8 students

This is a tremendously fun and unique way to engage the floor, the trapeze and the spaces between them. Circling, spinning, skimming and linear movement will be explored while accessing moves and transitions inherent in two point trapeze. Some partnering and group activities will be introduced and encouraged.

Prerequisites: Students must have basic familiarity with moving on the trapeze.

Beyond Symmetry: new approaches to partnered trapeze with Jill Marissa & Lara Paxton

Sunday May 28th, 9:30 – 11:30 am
Cost: $50, Max: 10 students

This workshop delivers fully-formed, original skills, followed by ways to build improvisation skills and develop an eye for creating and capturing unusual, novel shapes and transitions. In the first half, participants will learn several short, original doubles sequences created by trapeze duo Two of Wands (Jill Marissa and Lara Paxton.) The second half features exploration exercises that build the creative relationship between partners, break “writer’s block” and tease out original, hypnotic choreography.

Prerequisites: Comfortable sharing weight and space with a partner on a trapeze.

Strength & Power on Static Trapeze with Megan Gendell

Sunday May 28th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Cost: $50, Max: 8 students

Want to get stronger on trapeze, but not sure what to do? We’ll work through conditioning exercises that you can do in a variety of settings (with a buddy or solo; on a trapeze, at a gym, or on a home pull-up bar) to build the strength you need to move around the trapeze with ease and unlock the next level of skills. Then, we’ll explore how to maximize your power and momentum by refining knee hang beats, ankle hang beats, and hand beats, then transferring the loft they create into easier, more fluid movements and dynamic tricks.

Prerequisites: For students capable of front balance, ankle hang, and inverting in the ropes.

Int/Adv Duo Trapeze with Megan Gendell

Sunday May 28th, 3:30 – 6:30 pm
Cost: $75, Max: 8 students

Learn or refine dynamic duo trapeze moves and transitions, including beats, elevators/swan-ups, and beginning release moves.

Prerequisites: For students with experience sharing the trapeze with a partner. Bases: comfortable climbing a rope to a high trapeze and basing from catcher’s lock and seated. Flyers: familiar with all types of beats on solo static trapeze.



Aerial Hoop: Fun Choreography To Expand Possibilities with Dream Frohe

Friday May 26th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Saturday May 27th, 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 8 students

In this workshop, students will learn sequences that exemplify movement qualities such as threading, direction change, and momentum in order to help them move around their apparatus in new and interesting ways.

Prerequisites: Students should be able to do a straddle up in the air and have familiarity with basic aerial hoop vocabulary in sequences.

Aerial Hoop: Spice Up Your Sequences with Dream Frohe

Saturday May 27th, 9:30 – 11:30 am
Cost: $50; Max: 8 students

In this workshop, we will take a few sequences that students are already working on and find ways to add flow, self expression and overall pizazz*. I’ll ask volunteers to share sequences that they’re playing with/ struggling on, and in a safe space, we’ll look at them, have others try them, maybe take them in different directions and examine what makes movements interesting to watch. Through a series of exercises, students will explore ways to shape and hone their choreography in order to best highlight their unique skills.

*note: most likely, we won’t be able to work with a sequence for every person but all of us will benefit from sharing this process.

Prerequisites: Students should be able to do a straddle up in the air and have familiarity with basic aerial hoop vocabulary in sequences

Rope and Harness


Beginning Rope and Harness with Tamara (The Trapeze Lady)

Monday May 29th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Cost: $50, Max: 8 students

Rope and harness is just what it sounds like. You’re wearing a harness attached to one or two ropes from the front, back or sides. Access to the floor and partnering explorations offer myriad and exciting options for unique and wildly fun sequences and phrases. Invert, spin, run and circle without fear of falling or tiring your hands. WHAT?! Harnesses will be provided, but If you own a climbing harness, please bring it as this will cut down on changeout time.

Prerequisite: Students should be able to climb and descend at least 15 feet proficiently on rope or tissu and do a pullover from the floor on trapeze unassisted. Comfort inverting and spinning is a plus, but not required.

Single-Point Sling


Dynamic Sling with Lauren Kehl

Saturday May 27th, 1:00-3:00 pm
Cost: $50, Max: 8 students

Add some pizazz to your sling vocabulary! Learn a variety of beat variations and beat based skills to spice up your routine. Build drops that rotate forwards, backwards and sideways!

Prerequisite: trapeze beats and double star

‘Obscureography’ for Sling with Jenn Bruyer

Sunday, May 28th, 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Monday, May 29th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Cost: $50, Max: 8 students

Sling is my absolute favorite! It’s the perfect mix of fluidity, contour continuation and dynamic freedom (in a supported setting). It allows for concepts that are not possible on any other apparatus, giving it a vocabulary and movement style all its own. Join me to discover my particular brand of aerial sling panache I’ve spent years developing.

Examples may include: unusual mounts, alternative and asymmetric set ups for dives and drops, direction changing drops, thready and unexpected pathways, intriguing sculptural shapes and of course, obscure aerial items of interest.

Prerequisite: basic forward dive to crucifix, ability to invert from standing in sling

Performance Development


Performing Queer Identity & Experience with Lauren Feldman

Monday May 29th,  10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Cost: $50

How do we translate queer story, experience, and identity to choreography? How can we express ourselves in a way that “seems queer” in a solo capacity? What really takes movement/performing out of the mainstream and into our world? We’ll explore tools for making circus that matters to ourselves and our audiences. Then, working solo and in small groups, we’ll use prompts and jumping-off points to test drive new possibilities through no-pressure improvisations and compositions.

Prerequisite: familiar with simple sequencing on any apparatus

Performance Lab: works in progress with Lauren Feldman

Saturday May 27th,  6:30 -8:30 pm
Cost: $50

A space and a time for you to workshop whatever circus piece you’re developing, whatever stage it’s at — from the seed of an unmade act idea to a draft of an act in progress. We’ll focus on each participant’s work-in-progress, with the option of also physically trying out new choices for immediate feedback. This workshop will offer personalized artistic feedback, ideas, and questions for you to take with you as you continue to develop your act, as well as an opportunity to offer & receive safe, structured, facilitated group feedback (using the Liz Lerman model). You’ll also leave with tools to continue obtaining (& providing) artist-driven, productive, professional feedback on your own. Please bring your specific questions and goals, and come ready to learn by doing, observing, discussing, and responding.

Prerequisite: Have a work-in-progress, regardless of the amount of progress made so far

Making Circus that Dazzles with Lauren Feldman

Sunday May 28th,  1:00 -3:00 pm
Cost: $45

Sometimes we want to make an act that’s purely dazzling, high entertainment, without worrying about theme and relationship. What helps give certain acts their WOW factor? We’ll watch and analyze video clips of a variety of high-caliber circus acts and talk about the specific tools and artistic choices that make these acts so successful at being so exciting, gorgeous, and/or spectacular!

Prerequisite: This workshop is participatory but not physical. Everyone is welcome.

Handbalancing and Contortion


Handstands: Strength, Balance, Alignment, & Play with Megan Gendell

Friday May 26th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 10 students

Enjoy life upside down as you build a consistent handstand. Learn proper technique and drills you can practice alone and with a partner, working toward holding a solid handstand in the center of the room. Emphasis on core stability, shoulder flexibility, and injury prevention will contribute to a handstand practice that is safe, productive, and FUN.

Prerequisite: For students with some circus/aerial/acrobatic experience.

Handstand Balance Clinic with Megan Gendell

Saturday May 27th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Cost: $50; Max: 10 students

Enjoy life upside down as you build a consistent handstand. Learn proper technique and drills you can practice alone and with a partner, working toward holding a solid handstand in the center of the room. We’ll methodically examine the eight most common reasons students are unable to balance a handstand, then work through progressions and solutions to help students surpass each obstacle.

Prerequisite: For students capable of a 30-second handstand at the wall.

Beginning Contortion with Gunnar Field

Saturday May 27th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Cost: $45; Max: 12 students

Are you flexible and want to learn to contort? In this workshop you’ll learn the basics of contortion. We’ll work on controlled standing backbends, chest-stand, and drills for strengthening your back and opening your hips.


  • Bridge with chest on wall & straight arms
  • Splits on at least one leg
  • Feet to head in back arch/ cobra stretch
  • Forward bend with hands flat on floor.


Intermediate/Advanced Contortion with Gunnar Field

Sunday May 28th, 1:00-3:00 pm
Cost: $45; Max: 12 students

Are you ready to take your flexibility training to the next level?

In this workshop we’ll be focusing on back bends, chest-stands, opening shoulders, oversplits, elbow-stands, and handstands.


  • Solid standing backbend
  • Flat splits or oversplits.
  • Feet to head in a back arch.
  • Comfortable kicking up to a handstand on the wall.


Ground Skills


Ballet for Aerialists with Megan Gendell

Sunday May 28th, 9:30 – 11:30 am
Cost: $50; Max: 10 students

In this everyone-welcome intro to ballet basics taught both at the ballet barre and in basic aerial positions on sling/fabric, students will learn fundamental concepts of classical ballet technique in order to train long, straight legs, proper toe pointing, and graceful use of head, shoulders, and arms to create strong, extended lines — all with attention to how these translate to and benefit circus work. Students will also develop musicality, explore diverse qualities of movement, and find greater fluidity, expressivity, and freedom in their bodies.

Prerequisite: None!

Below are workshops that have been canceled. If you are interested in a private lesson with these instructors, let us know!

Hat Manipulation/Juggling with Ezra Weill

Have ever wanted to impress your friends with a few slick hat tricks while looking fly all the while? Or are you interested in adding upon your already existing hat juggling vocabulary?  If you answered yes to either of the questions above then please come and do this lovely Hat Manipulation/Juggling workshop. We will be going over everything from flips, spins and turns to stalls, rolls and blind catches.

Prerequisite: No previous experience required, you don’t even have to like wearing a hat to juggle hats.

Butt-Shelf Theory with Lauren Kehl

Explore rotational movement on the sling by learning about and moving in different plains of motion and axis of rotation. Build simple movements into more complicated patterns and begin to create your own transitions. Compare how these pathways translate to other apparatus. Leave with the building blocks to create unique and seamless choreography.

Prerequisite: strong front balance, experience on trapeze or sling