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.
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 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!
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.
Maddy first fell in love with Aerial Arts in early 2017 after taking their first Silks class at Empyrean Arts. Since then they have also 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 teach Beginning Aerial Arts classes at the studio. When not in the studio, they enjoy hiking, baking, dancing, and drinking coffee.”
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.
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!
Kate Rouzer is the Owner and Instructor of AntiGravity®STL, as well as a professional Ballet Dancer since 2009, and is a Freelance Dancer after recently concluding her ninth season with the Saint Louis Ballet Company. Kate holds 3 AntiGravity® Certifications in Decompression, Aerial Yoga, and Suspension Fitness. She has been teaching AntiGravity® Fitness in St. Louis since 2013. Kate is also a climber, and former route setter for Upper Limits Climbing Gym. As a dancer she has cross-trained to maintain strength, stamina and flexibility the throughout her career and enjoys imparting the knowledge she has gained in all fields.
Head shot photo courtesy of @prattkreidich
I started gymnastics at 7 years old and immediately fell in love. Gymnastics presents so many unique challenges for the body and brain to overcome and I was obsessed with going to practice and overcoming as many as possible. I started teaching at 15 and have had experience coaching little babies, big babies, birthday parties, adult gymnastics, parkour, workshops, camps……… you get it! I have taught a lot! Just about every skill I have taught can be traced back to the handstand or a handstand variation. One could say that handstands are the foundation of gymnastics and oh boy, have I taught a lot of them. I am excited to bring my unique teaching style and upbeat energy to the Empyrean Arts family and look forward to handstanding with you!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.