Waverly Jones is a versatile aerialist who specializes in several apparatuses including aerial fabrics, aerial hoop, duo aerial arts, spanish web, and pole fitness. In January of 2011, Waverly became a professional company member of Asheville Aerial Arts, and since then has performed at countless festivals, gala events, fund raisers, carnivals, corporate events, weddings, concerts, and private parties. Waverly continuously pursues education in her field by traveling to schools and studios around the world to learn as often and as much as possible. She has had the pleasure of working with talented artists and athletes such as Serenity Smith-Forchion, Molly Graves, Olga Karmansky, Shaina Cruea, Heidi Coker and many more. She has completed a certification in pole dance and fitness instruction from Dakota Fox’s Aradia Fitness USA. Waverly deeply enjoys connecting with others through performance and instruction of aerial arts and pole fitness. As of July 2015, Waverly is honored to co-own Empyrean Arts, Asheville’s first and only certified pole and aerial studio with her aerial partner and dear friend, Heather Poole.
Heather Poole is a proud co-owner of Empyrean Arts with Waverly Jones. Heather is passionate about her continuing education in sustainable athletic training methods, and specializes in end range flexibility training for herself and her students. She has received Yoga and Mat Pilates Teacher Certifications, and in early 2015 she became an Aradia Fitness Certified Pole Instructor and Master Trainer by the incredible Dakota Fox based out of Cary, North Carolina. She participated in the Liquid Motion methodology dance training in January 2016 where she discovered that she loves fusing contortion and dance techniques together. Most recently Heather received her Elevated Flexibility Teacher Certification in February 2017 from Marlo Fisken. Heather has studied and continues to train with some of the leading aerial, pole, contortion, dance, and athletic coaches in the United States and values the importance of continuing to be a student. Heather’s first aerial love is Fabrics, and she really enjoys creating collaborative group performance art. She is a professional performing artist with Asheville Aerial Arts, and a co-founder of Bromelia Aerial Dance Collective. Heather strongly believes in safe, supportive, sustainable training for herself and her students.
Jessica Smith has been training and performing on Trapeze and Lyra since 2010. Jessica comes to the aerial arts through her dance background and approaches the bar with a lighthearted perspective. Jessica enjoys bringing her love for bars and dance together with aerial dance trapeze, one of her favorite aerial arts disciplines. She truly loves exploring her creativity by discovering new ways to dance in the air. Jessica believes that movement can be fun, exciting and allow the individual to uncover their true beauty. She performs under the name of Phoenix as this mythical bird illustrates how to recreate the self from what is already available. Jessica is one of the leading aerial arts instructors at Empyrean, and helps oversee and train aspiring new aerial instructors through the Empyrean Arts teacher training program.
Jenn is originally from Baltimore, Maryland and now calls Asheville, North Carolina home. She started her aerial training in Carrboro, North Carolina and mostly concentrated on Aerial Silks. Since moving to Asheville, her aerial repertoire has increased to include Trapeze and Lyra (and two flights so far on flying trapeze!). Since the opening of Empyrean Arts, she dived head first into learning pole fitness, absolutely loves it, and is now a certified Aradia Fitness Pole instructor! Jenn is also a certified Empyrean Aerial Arts instructor, and loves teaching everyone how to play in the air. She works as a veterinary nurse at an emergency clinic nearby and enjoys kayaking, hiking, and traveling in her free time when she isn’t up in the air.
Alexandra Hatch has always harbored a deep passion for being upside down; nurturing said passion through gymnastics and vigorous tree climbing until she discovered circus arts in 2013. Since then Alex has been training predominantly in Aerial Silks, Contortion, and Lyra, and has been performing with Asheville Aerial Arts since 2015. Alex is an Empyrean Arts Certified Beginning Aerial Arts Instructor, and you can find her hosting open studio sessions and contorting herself whenever possible.
Conner Hall has trained with the Asheville Academy of Ballet and Contemporary Dance since she was a small child. She now dances professionally for the Asheville Ballet and for Lindsey Kelley Dance. After performing an acrobatic dance routine for Asheville Aerial Arts in 2015, she decided it was time to take her dancing into the air and pursue the aerial arts! Conner is thankful to the beautifully talented aerialists, many of whom are part of the Empyrean Arts team, for inspiring her to pursue this newfound execution of art and athleticism. Conner Hall is currently involved in the work study program at Empyrean Arts, and you can find her teaching Floor Theory and Ballet Conditioning for Adults too!
Before she had learned the words to describe the concepts, Amanda understood and connected to
rhythm and dance; movement is her passion, her joy, and her solace. Cumulatively, she has over 20
years of dance experience, as a student, a performer, an instructor, and a choreographer. A native of
Western North Carolina, Amanda began her formal study of dance at the age of 4 and, over the
years, she has received extensive training in numerous styles of dance, including jazz, tap, ballet,
pointe, lyrical, and hip hop and has hit the stage for countless competitions and performances
across the country. She left the area after graduating high school to attend UNC-Chapel Hill, where
she pursued a B.S. in Psychology, but continued dancing as an instructor at Barriskill Dance Theater
School in Durham, NC. After completing her degree, Amanda returned to Asheville, where she has
since continued performing with professional companies (Project NEGUS, Bronson’s Baddies, and
Fire & Feist) and continued teaching ballet, tap, jazz, musical theater, lyrical, and contemporary to
children and adults in the area. Outside of dance, Amanda has cultivated a career as a mental health
professional and has recently earned a M.S. in Health Science from USF. Guided by her study of
health and by her personal journey as a dancer, she believes dance to be a language that everyone is
capable of speaking and encourages others to use dance as an outlet. Furthermore, she is avidly
dedicated to promoting body positivity, self-esteem, and general wellness in the dance community.
Amanda is excited to be the Chair Dance instructor at Empyrean Arts, where she hopes not only to
share her art and further develop herself as a performer and choreographer, but also to bring out
the inner performer in each of her students.
Maddy first fell in love with Aerial Arts in early 2017 after taking their first Silks class at Empyrean Arts. Since then they have enjoyed learning Trapeze and Lyra as well as a little bit of Rope. They are currently involved in the work trade program at Empyrean, and are working towards their Beginning Aerial Arts Teacher Certification. When not in the studio, they enjoy hiking, baking, dancing, and drinking coffee.”
After living in many other areas of the country, Eleanor decided to move back home to the mountains a few years ago, and upon doing so, discovered the aerial arts. She was inspired to begin studying aerial arts after seeing a collaboration between a local band – Pawtooth and Bromelia Aerial Dance Collective in 2014. Currently, Eleanor focuses on learning Aerial Silks, Lyra, and Contortion, and she also explores dance, choreography, and other apparatuses too. You can find Eleanor happily hosting open studios at Empyrean Arts.
Alan Malpass takes great pride in his work as a personal trainer, and he is well known in the Zumba and group fitness community for his sweet disposition and fun loving personality. Alan attended Western Carolina University where he graduated with the school’s first Bachelor of Music in Musical Theater Performance degree. After graduation, he moved to Asheville to continue his work with Ann Dunn and the Asheville Civic Ballet, and also with Asheville Aerial Arts where Alan is one of their most seasoned aerial acrobatic performers. Alan is the very 1st certified male pole fitness instructor in Western North Carolina, and also through Aradia Fitness program. Alan is a certified Aradia Pole instructor, and leads the Iron Core class at Empyrean Arts.
Dreaming of the circus from a young age, little Faith had high hopes of growing up to be a tight rope walker. Now she is living her aerial dream by training Lyra, Trapeze and Silks. Faith has performed with Asheville Aerial Arts and independently for local musicians. She finds great joy in expanding body awareness and honing the mind body connection through the playful discipline of training Aerial Arts. “Finding reward in achieving an aerial skill I have been working on keeps my love for the art strong. There is so much diversity in this form, I am continually reshaping myself into a better person.” Faith knows the possibilities are endless when we set our dreams sky high! Faith is also a Holistic Herbalist, Gardener/Activist, and Crochet Fiber Artist. Known as a Wood and Garden Witch, she crafts her home in the magickal mountains surrounding Asheville, NC.
Todd Gorham is a Certified Arborist, a member of The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and is Empyrean Arts leading aerial rigger. Todd graduated from Warren Wilson College with a Bachelor of Arts in Outdoor Leadership and is most at home in the wilder regions of Appalachia. While attending WWC, Todd entertained his prolific energies by climbing trees, playing varsity soccer, and learning Aerial Silks and Acrobalance. Playing circus with his friends, taunting gravity, reading science fiction, fantasizing about being a kung fu master and fighting monsters in dreams are some of his favorite things to do. Todd enjoys his domestic life in West Asheville when he is not seeking high adventure and joy in motion.
Julie Noblitt has always loved to move. After leaving competitive dancing, Julie found her niche as a runner, yogi, and fitness instructor with ACE, AFAA, & Les Mills certifications. Since beginning her career as a group fitness instructor in 2002, Julie has developed a passion for helping people set and achieve personal fitness goals. In 2015, Julie began performing with Asheville Aerial Arts. She has experience in aerial silks, contortion, duo acro, and adagio. By day, Julie is a teacher at a local elementary school with a masters in library science. She finds joy in her two children, Lily and Jack, and her husband, Geoff.
I trained contortion from 2007-2015 at the San Francisco Circus Center starting under Xia Ke Min and Lu Yi and later with Serchmaa as well as other Mongolian contortionists in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. In addition, I completed a year long pre-professional and intensive program in San Francisco.
As a past instructor at the SF Circus Center, I also have a general interest in the body and theories around it. I have over 600 hours of yoga teacher training, 1000 hours of massage therapy training and became a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. I am currently finishing a Doctorate degree in Chinese medicine.
My full-time job is as a Buddhist priest but I find a lot of joy in teaching people how to move past their own belief in what their body can and cannot do through our persistent effort. Flexibility training can literally be life changing! I love helping folks through that process of learning their body. It challenges us physically and emotionally. Understanding how we work with discomfort and relax is really half the process. Overall, I take a holistic approach to flexibility and value intense and slow training. I also believe training needs to be individualized and encourage students to have clear goals.
About Laura Marie
Laura Marie is an aerialist, dancer, and performer based in Asheville, North Carolina. A Tennessee native, she began her training in various form of dance as a toddler with Heidi Longwith, artistic director of Tennessee Youth Ballet. Her continuing desire to find new ways to express, explore, and create through movement led Laura Marie to aerial arts where the static trapeze immediately made a girl who had always wanted to run away with the circus fall in love with aerial training. Since, she has expanded and focused her training to include several bar-based apparatus and styles. Laura Marie is an Empyrean Arts Certified Aerial Instructor, Aradia Fitness Certified Pole Instructor, and has been certified by Liquid Motion. She teaches a variety of classes that specialize in everything from skill-based aerial and pole to exotic dance and sensual movement to aerial dance and choreography creation.
Laura Marie’s style focuses on self-expression and discovery through movement, and it is her ultimate goal to teach in such a way that provides each student with a sense of accomplishment, excitement, and self-empowerment. She is consistently fascinated and inspired by her students and peers in all fields of performance and visual art, their interpretation of dance and aerial work, as well as inventive and intuitive styles of movement. In addition to teaching, she has continued to work with various companies and troupes, performing both dance and aerial and strives to combine the two as much as possible to create works that are aesthetically imaginative and, usually, a little weird.
Cody Hayman discovered circus arts in a barn in Olympia, Washington in 2010. A student of a variety of circus and movement arts, Cody’s main focus is aerial rope, which he has taught and performed on throughout the western United States. In 2014 he helped found Airbound Underground, a collective of aerial instructors, performers, and producers in Olympia. He was also an instructor at SANCA in Seattle, Washington, and is excited to now be a part of the team at Empyrean Arts! Cody is a Certified Empyrean Arts Beginning Aerial Arts Instructor.