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 proud and honored to co-own Empyrean Arts with Waverly Jones. Heather is passionate about her continuing education in movement with a special interest in sustainable and long term athletic training methods. She specializes in end range flexibility-mobility training for herself, her students, and anyone interested in improving their ranges of motion safely. Heather strongly believes in safe, supportive, sustainable training for all and is happy to share and receive this knowledge.

Heather has received Yoga and Mat Pilates Teacher Trainings and Certifications. 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. Heather and Waverly are currently leading Aradia Fitness Aerial Intensives and Teacher Trainings. Heather participated in the very first Liquid Motion methodology training in January 2016 where she discovered that she loves fusing contortion and dance techniques together. Heather received her Elevated Flexibility Teacher Certification in February 2017 from Marlo Fisken. She has studied and continues to train with some of the finest aerial, pole, contortion, dance, and athletic coaches – and greatly values the idea that one is always a student. Heather 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 is most happy walking around outside (hot and sunny is preferable), rolling around on the floor with a dance trapeze, and drinking and eating dark chocolate. Play with her at Empyrean Arts or email her at info@empyreanarts.org for your ideas!

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.


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.

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 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.”

Samantha Davis

Samantha Davis

About Sam

Sam started pole dancing classes in August of 2016, and also started taking Aerial Classes in January of 2017. Pole has been an incredible source of personal growth for Sam, and she tries to dance as often as possible. Since starting, Sam has performed on Aerial Hoop in Xpand Fest in 2018, and hopes to perform more to spread awareness of plus-sized athletes and aerialists.
Sam is currently enrolled in the Health and Fitness program at AB-Tech so she can make pole fitness and teaching her career, as well as becoming a personal trainer to help people reach their wellness goals. She is the Curvy Pole instructor and is part of the work-trade program at Empyrean Arts.

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.

Brandon Romstadt

Brandon Romstadt

About Brandon

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!!

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.

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!

Chelsea Feline

Chelsea Feline

About Chelsea

Chelsea picked up a circus-inspired movement practice in 2014, using flow arts and yoga to find her meditation. For a couple years she traveled to different events around the country teaching yoga and circus arts. Partner acrobatics came into her life in 2015 and immediately evolved into her passion. She practiced steadily for a year and attended different immersion’s around the world in order to start teaching a style of her own. Acro heightened her vision for all to experience the connection, patience, trust, strength, community, and insight that this playful path provided. Chelsea loves to combine mindfulness, therapeutics, safety, and challenging skills in her classes. She currently teaches partner acrobatics in Asheville, North Carolina and continues to learn from many great instructors, pulling from their lessons and wisdom to mold into her own teachings.

Hilary Schroeder

Hilary Schroeder

About Hilary

A mover of many years, Hilary brings a background in modern dance, theater, and dance improvisation to her aerial work. She began her aerial training in 2012 at Canopy Studio in Athens, GA, where she met her one true love, the dance trapeze. After training at Aerial Horizon in San Antonio, TX, in 2016-2017, she is thrilled to have found yet another beloved aerial family at Empyrean Arts. Hilary can occasionally be found on fabrics, pole, and metal apparatuses and has a passion for choreography and performance. At Empyrean, Hilary teaches Low Dance Bar, a class which celebrates the relationship between ground and air and focuses on developing skills such as creativity, improvisation, curiosity, and theory. She believes that everyone is capable of dancing, and her greatest joy is seeing others discover their personal dance and expression. You’ll also find her helping to maintain Empyrean’s status of cleanest studio she’s ever seen as part the Work/Trade team.

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.
Caroline Woolard

Caroline Woolard

About Caroline

Caroline is a registered yoga teacher with training in yin, restorative, vinyasa, corporate yoga, accessible yoga, aerial flexibility, and therapeutic myofascial release techniques. Caroline first came to these practices after spending many years pushing her body with overtraining, disordered eating and overworking that resulted in burnout and health issues at a young age. She used slower yin and restorative style yoga classes in combination with therapeutic myofascial release and energetic bodywork to begin to slowly heal her body, thoughts, and nervous system. Over the past few years, she has been deepening and redefining her own relationship with movement and her body. She has personally experienced the importance of taking care of your body and having a balanced approach to movement. Caroline aspires to make yoga and movement accessible to all bodies and help individuals find a deeper, more compassionate connection with their bodies and themselves. She was introduced to pole classes near the end of 2018 and discovered a love for lyra at the beginning of 2019. She is currently enjoying rediscovering joy and confidence in movement again without the goal of trying to change the body to be a certain size or weight. She greatly appreciates the growth mentally and physically she continues to experience through exploring aerial and pole classes at Empyrean, along with the unique body positive and supportive community.

Caroline Sharrits

Caroline Sharrits

About Caroline

Caroline discovered aerial silks in 2017 in Boone NC after a friend invited her to class. She instantly fell in love with the beautiful art that made her feel strong, empowered, and challenged. Since moving to Asheville, she has been welcomed to the purple oasis and, like many others, refers to Empyrean Arts as her happy place. Caroline finds a sense of calm while wrapped up and dancing in the silks. This art has helped her to appreciate her body and what it can be capable of with some hard, but mainly fun, work. Caroline is happy and proud to be a part of the sweet community at Empyrean Arts as a student and part of the work trade program. When not at Empyrean Arts, Caroline enjoys trail running with her husband and dog, working as a Registered Dietitian, spending time with friends and family, exploring Asheville, and hiking or backpacking in Western North Carolina’s backyard.

Kirstin Voelkel

Kirstin Voelkel

About Kirstin

Kirstin loves to dance way up high – in August 2016 after driving from Asheville to Arcosanti, AZ and back, she decided to be bold and engage her body in a new way with aerial silks. Even though she had no prior dance experience, she picked herself up and quickly became enamored with the fabrics. She has the heart of an artist and loves expressing through body movement. She performed for the first time this year at the Xpand Fest on the south slope. Excited to be a member of the Empyrean Arts squad work-trade program, she continues to explore movement arts.

Kirstin grew up in the cornfield part of Indiana and dreamt of the mountains. In 2013 she received her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Ball State University, and in 2014 she moved to Asheville and worked at the North Carolina Arboretum as a garden design intern. Nowadays you can catch her if you can riding her bike downtown- she loves taking herself on long scenic drives through the mountains, staying out dancing, and training to be a post-apocalyptic undercover superhero. She creates narrative about her life through her arts and crafting, receiving grants to take her Spirit Staves to festivals and regional burn events. Her variety of interests include drawing, painting, costumes, accessories, jewelry, and modeling for artists’ drawings and photos.
Camille Reid

Camille Reid

About Camille

Camille Reid comes from a family of fitness and outdoor enthusiasts. From gymnastics and horseback riding while young, to working at a rock climbing gym in high school – she’s always found joy and excitement from being active and taking on new adventures. After spending the last few years running, indoor bouldering, and practicing yoga, she found herself wanting to explore more into the world of dance and self-expression through movement.

After talking about this desire with a friend, she started taking cardio dance classes, then in December 2017, she signed up for her 1st pole class at Empyrean Arts and hasn’t looked back since. She also regularly practices aerial yoga, and dabbles in silks and sling. Join Camille for open studio sessions weekly at Empyrean Arts.

When not at work as a vegan chef, she enjoys makeup artistry, good coffee, going to shows, and spending time with her rescue cat, Bo.

Kathy Baynard

Kathy Baynard

About Kathy

A Brevard native, Kathy didn’t start dancing until she was in her early 40’s. After being skinny her entire
life, she found herself about 60 lbs. overweight after reaching the age of 40. She began her fitness
journey becoming a Les Mills BodyCombat instructor and it was during that process it was
recommended that she work on her flexibility. This led to an internet search, bringing her to Empyrean
Arts, and started her love of Liquid Motion, a movement methodology form of dance. She began taking
classes regularly in April 2016 and has performed in 3 Empyrean Arts student showcases. With each
class, she knew this could be something she could do long term to maintain her overall health and
became a certified instructor in January 2019. Since taking her first class and then coming full circle to
getting certified, Kathy had found doing Liquid Motion extremely empowering and inspiring. Liquid
Motion is a slower, more sensual dance that allows for creativity and exploration of different movement
styles and can make anyone feel sexy! Since starting Liquid Motion, Kathy is in better physical condition
and more flexible than she’s ever been. Kathy believes that fitness can come in many different forms
and regardless of your fitness level, age, or dance experience, Liquid Motion can be an integral part of
any fitness routine. Come GET LIQUID 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.