Our Team

Waverly Jones

Waverly Jones

About Waverly

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

Heather Poole

About Heather

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

Jessica Smith

About Jessica

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.

Jennifer Dow

Jennifer Dow

About Jenn

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.

Elizabeth Huntley

Elizabeth Huntley

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth has a passion for bodywork, movement, and creativity. Her interest in exercise, sports, and dance began at a young age when she started taking dance classes, playing tennis, and running track. Bodywork has now become her career and joy. Elizabeth graduated from Appalachian State University with a B.A. degree in dance studies and education. Her dance training is in release technique, Limón, and Ballet. She is a Classically and Authentically trained, 3rd generation Pilates instructor. Elizabeth has taught release technique, ballet, improvisational dance, somatic dance, Pilates mat and Pilates equipment, exercise bar classes, cardio dance, and dance conditioning classes. She has attended Pilates workshops from Mejo Wiggins, and she also has continued to develop her dance training through the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC and by attending release technique workshops at LaCantera in Mexico City, Mexico. Elizabeth also keeps up her own practice by attending dance classes, performance dance, Pilates classes, cardio-interval training, and Empyrean’s very own flexibility classes.
April Skelton

April Skelton

About April

April Skelton is an aerialist, educator, and dance trapeze evangelist.

Born and raised in the land where Appalachia melts into the Deep South, April has been working in aerial arts since 2005, after beginning her own training at Canopy Studio in Athens, Ga., under the direction of Susan Murphy. As a member of Canopy’s Repertory Company from 2007-2014, April wrote and performed works on aerial silks, bungee harness, invented apparatus, static trapeze, pole, and lyra, but her favorite work is on the dance (aka single-point or low-flying) trapeze.

Out of that community of Southern artists, April adopted and helped develop the particular dialect of dance trapeze she speaks most fluently: a merging of vertical skills borrowed from aerial fabric and sling with the dynamic precision of static trapeze. As a longtime aerial instructor, April co-taught Canopy’s advanced adult aerial program in trapeze and bar-based apparatus with executive director Melissa Roberts from 2010-2014. She has performed and taught at the international Aerial Dance Festival in Boulder, Colorado, as well as with Asheville Aerial Arts, Flight Collaborative, and as a cast member of the production “Currents,” based out of Charleston, SC, and for clients such as Harrah’s and the Georgia Aquarium.

April is a licensed physical therapist assistant and unlicensed human movement geek and uses her knowledge of biomechanics to inform her instruction. Among others, she has studied under Aimee Hancock, Elsie Smith, and Serenity Smith Forchion of NECCA, Rain Anya of Paper Doll Militia, and her mentor Susan Murphy, at whose Marsh Studio April has also taught. After completing a residency at NECCA in 2015, April relocated to Colorado’s Front Range, but brings with her a fondness for the strange and grotesquely beautiful that only a Southern Gothic heart could love.

After being the Education Director for Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance in Boulder, Colorado for 2 years, April has relocated back to the South in Asheville, North Carolina to teach at Empyrean Arts.


Conner Hall

Conner Hall

About Conner

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!

Lauren Willingham

Lauren Willingham

About Lauren

I took dance classes while growing up and always loved movement and music. When I discovered pole dancing I was mesmerized and wanted nothing more than to be able to do the amazing tricks I saw; so I was ecstatic when Empyrean Arts opened its doors! Having a genetic connective tissue disorder (EDS) I knew I needed to build muscle but I hated boring exercise; the solution was pole! From the first class I was hooked and very quickly realized I wanted to share all the benefits and joys of pole with everyone. I’m so happy to be a part of such a wonderful studio and I can’t wait to see where else the pole journey takes me!
Lauren is a certified Aradia Fitness USA Pole Instructor.

Alan Malpass

Alan Malpass

About Alan

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.

Madeline Battles

Madeline Battles

About Maddy

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.”

Colette Delangre

Colette Delangre

About Colette

Colette started pole classes on January 1st 2017 and fell in love with pole instantly. Ever since that day she has consistently been taking classes at Empyrean Arts, and when she travels she enjoys discovering other pole studios to explore different styles. This year Colette has decided to go full force into the pole community by competing and going through the Aradia pole teacher training program at Empyrean. She is so grateful to Waverly and Heather for introducing her to pole dance and fitness and for asking her to join the Empyrean team. Colette’s full time job is running her own bath care line where she makes salt scrubs, bath salts, oil pulling, body oils and rubs.

Julie Noblitt

Julie Noblitt

About Julie

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.

Alexandra Hatch

Alexandra Hatch

About Alexandra

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.

Steven McHone

Steven McHone

About Steven

Steven is an Asheville native who spends his days as a mountain endurance athlete and fitness professional. When Steven isn’t ripping down mountain sides on his bike he is coaching Crossfit, yoga, running, strength & conditioning or planning his next adventure. He believes moving well, working hard and recovering with intention will enhance anyone’s athletic performance. Steven has competed as a bodybuilder, ultra marathon runner, ultra mountain bike racer, CrossFit, and performed with Asheville Aerial Arts in partner acrobatics. Take a class with Steven for a fitness adventure.
Autum Kirgan

Autum Kirgan

About Autum

Autum is a Licensed Acupuncturist and a RYT200. Her yoga journey started in 2006 with Baptiste Power Yoga. Over the years, her practice as evolved from Baptiste Power Yoga, Mysore Ashtanga, Ashtanga, Dao Flow Yoga, and most currently Suspension Yoga (aka Aerial Yoga). Autum received her 200hr Ashtanga yoga teacher training in 2011 in McLeodganji, India. Upon moving to Asheville in 2011 she later discovered a sweet love for aerial silks and has devoted herself to this new found love since 2016. While discovering new strength and skill despite having old injuries, becoming an intermediate aerialist gave her much inspiration to combine aerial skill with a yoga practice. She received her 50hr Suspension Yoga training in Toronto, CA under Beatrix Montanile and is currently working on her certification. Her experience has taught her that the combination of the two arts can help heal old injuries, create more strength & length, and most importantly flight! Come Hang Out and fly with me!

Todd Gorham

Todd Gorham

About Todd

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.

Amanda Hoyte

Amanda Hoyte

About Amanda

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.

Paige McElroy

Paige McElroy

About Paige

Paige stumbled into Empyrean with no gymnastics or dance experience at the very end of 2017. She quickly fell in love with the trapeze and has not stopped talking about it since. Paige is involved with the work trade program at Empyrean and can be found hosting open studios on Sundays. When not hanging on the trapeze, Paige is a counselor at an eating disorder clinic and spends time with her pet rabbit.

Faith Elena Cwenbeald

Faith Elena Cwenbeald

About Faith

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.

Shannon Gallagher

Shannon Gallagher

About Shannon

A former figure skater, Shannon has always enjoyed sports that require spinning and spending time in the air. She began studying aerial arts at Empyrean in 2015, focusing on trapeze and lyra. She takes great pride in being a part of the creative and supportive community within Empyrean, and is involved in the work study program at the studio. When not upside down, Shannon can be found making art and getting lost in nature.

Victoria Bryant

Victoria Bryant

About Victoria

Victoria began her aerial and pole journey in spring of 2016. She primarily focuses on Pole and Lyra, and dabbles in Trapeze. The combination of aesthetic grace, strength, and control make this type of movement arts a perfect fit for her. When not participating in the work trade program at Empyrean, Victoria can be found working as a behavior specialist in an area public school district, teaching social skills and emotional regulation strategies to students with challenging behaviors.

Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson

About Sarah

Sarah started learning Aerial Silks in 2012 in Taos, New Mexico. When she moved to Asheville in 2016 she found her aerial home at Empyrean Arts. Sarah loves to explore both the silks and trapeze apparatuses currently, and is always looking forwards to more aerial arts in her life! When not in the air, she works as a mental health program co-coordinator, and loves helping people – especially helping others in finding movement through yoga and stillness in meditation. Sarah is a part of the work trade program at Empyrean Arts.
Samantha Davis

Samantha Davis

About Sam

Sam started pole dancing classes in August 2016, and dabbles in exploring Lyra and Trapeze also. Pole has been an incredible source of personal growth for Sam, and she tries to dance as often as possible.
Sam is currently enrolled in the Health and Fitness degree program at AB-Tech so that she can make pole fitness and teaching her career, and she is a part of the work trade program at Empyrean Arts.
Sarah B Cabe

Sarah B Cabe

About Sarah

Sarah is the prodigal daughter returning to the Appalachians after many years of wandering around the country, finally settling down in her adopted home of Asheville.  Being fit has always been important to her, but she has not been interested with traditional athletics- running, aerobics, weights, anything involving a ball – so it’s been difficult to find something that keeps her dedicated to being active.  A serendipitous internet search led Sarah to Empyrean Arts, and she took her first flexibility/contortion class on a whim in July 2016. The studio was a perfect fit, welcoming and inspiring, and she immediately signed up for trapeze and Lyra.  Sarah had no idea what she was getting into, but she is so glad she did! She has been steadily training on the bars ever since, adding classes like Iron Core and aerial conditioning to build progress in the air.  Physically she has never felt better, and this community gives her strength beyond the body. Outside of this Happy Place, Sarah is a career server, puppy mom, and collector of absurd shoes.
Alexis Bien

Alexis Bien

About Alexis

Lexi has been on her aerial Journey since July 2017. Her focus is on Pole but also spends time improving her Lyra and Trapeze skills. As a lifelong dancer, she has found a sense of home in her aerial pursuits. Aerial arts has proved to be a major cornerstone in Lexi’s self-love and body-awareness journey. When she isn’t flipping around you can find her creating clothes or teaching folks about energy efficient lighting.