As a versatile aerialist, Waverly Jones specializes in several apparatuses including Aerial Tissu, Aerial Hoop, Duo Aerial Arts, Spanish web, Corde Lisse, and Dance Pole Arts. Waverly began performing professionally in January of 2011 when she became a company member of Asheville Aerial Arts. She has since performed at countless festivals, galas, fund raisers, carnivals, corporate events, weddings, concerts, and private parties. In July of 2015 Waverly and dear friend Heather Poole opened Asheville’s first and only certified aerial and movement arts studio: Empyrean Arts. Empyrean Arts provides students with a safe and supportive environment for anyone wanting to explore personal development through movement art education. Waverly holds a Master Trainer Instructor Certification in Pole Dance and Fitness from Dakota Fox’s Aradia Fitness USA, and in the spring of 2017 she collaborated with Dakota Fox and Heather Poole to create Aerial Silks and Aerial Hoop teacher training programs for Aradia Fitness. More than anything, Waverly deeply enjoys connecting and growing with others through the performance and instruction of aerial arts.
Heather Poole is a proud and grateful co-owner of Empyrean Arts with Waverly Jones. Heather is passionate about being a forever student of life with a focused interest in what healthy-healing sustainable movement methods look like, even if it challenges the current trends. She is interested in making movement accessible to every body regardless of body ability.
Heather completed Yoga and Mat Pilates Teacher Trainings and Certifications in 2002. She has taught group and private classes in Yoga, Pilates, Flexibility-Contortion, Aerial Silks and Sling, Aerial Hoop (Lyra), and Trapeze since 2005. She was a professional performing artist and managing director with Asheville Aerial Arts from 2011 until 2018. Heather is a co-founder of Bromelia Aerial Dance Collective (no longer active) and As Above So Below Aerial Dance Collective (currently active). In early 2015 she became an Aradia Fitness USA Certified Pole Instructor and Master Trainer from Dakota Fox at her Aradia studio in Cary, North Carolina. Heather and Waverly have since developed their own safe and accessible Aerial Teacher Training curriculums and programs for Empyrean Arts (studio doors opened in 2015), and in collaboration with Aradia Fitness USA, and are available for bookings. Heather participated in the very first Liquid Motion methodology training at Vertical Joes in Atlanta, Georgia in January 2016 where she discovered that she loves integrating flexibility-contortion and dance techniques together. She received her Elevated Flexibility Teacher Certification in February 2017 from Marlo Fisken, and specializes in and has taught extensively on safe and sustainable end range flexibility-mobility training.
Heather has been focused on creating and developing her own healing movement methods class since 2019 called Slither Sessions. You will most likely find Heather outside in the natural world – gardening, going on walks, hanging out in a hammock, and visiting and being inspired and healed by the remaining wild places of the United States. She loves rolling around on the floor with or without a dance trapeze, and loves giving others permission to do so as well. She will most likely always have chocolate. Connect with Heather on Instagram @missheathen or through Empyrean Arts.
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.
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 middle school librarian. She finds joy in her two children, Lily and Jack, and her husband, Geoff.
Sam started pole dancing classes in August 2016 trying to find something that would keep her active and was instantly hooked! She started attending Lyra classes in January 2017, and has performed on Aerial Hoop three times since then. She is also interested in Aerial Sling and Dance Trapeze. Now, Sam dances in the air and on the floor as much as possible. She also explores movement through Yoga, Pilates, and Liquid Motion floor work. Sam also has an associate’s degree in Health and Fitness science and is an ACE certified personal trainer! She plans to compete in PSO soon, and hopes to spread awareness of plus-sized athletes and aerialists. Sam is a certified Pole and Aerial Flexibility instructor at Empyrean Arts, offers Personal Training, and teaches the occasional Floorwork and Conditioning class.
Sara hails from NYC where her love of dance began with ballet. She began studying belly dance under Sarah Joy and eventually joined Browncoat Bellydance. She still partners with Sara Joy, bringing her exotic flow to the stage with Mischief Managed Burlesque as Datura Luxe. Sara’s love for exotic flow and all things gooey began with her first contortion class at Empyrean and spiraled out to pole and lyra. In 2020 she became a certified Twerk Technician through Vertical Joe’s and has had the privilege of learning from instructors such as Heather Poole, Waverly Jones and Jax Spencer.
Camille Reid comes from a family of fitness and outdoor enthusiasts. From gymnastics, tennis, 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 her 20’s 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 dove deep into the world of all things pole, but also practices aerial yoga, lyra and sling.
She has trained under a variety of talented pole instructors, including Doris Arnold, Davina Shewolf, Jax Spencer, and more. And in January 2020 she completed her Aradia Fitness training with Waverly Jones to teach beginner pole.
Camille is currently teaching pole privates, Zoom classes, and hosting studio rental sessions.
When not at work as a mental health facility Sous Chef, she enjoys makeup artistry, good coffee, and spending time with her rescue cats, Bo & Tammy.
Morgan Rossi specializes in aerial silks and contortion/flexibility training. With over 13 years of experience in circus, she’s worked professionally for Atlanta-based performance companies such as Liquid Sky and The Off-Centered Project for events across the southeast. Additionally, Morgan has taken part in the production of showcases, artistic recitals, and competitions, even winning the all-around prize at the 2020 Aerial Sport and Circus Competition in Atlanta. While attending the University of Georgia, Morgan received her group fitness certification and taught mobility and handstands classes, where she loved to watch her students gain confidence and strength from their training. Also while at UGA, Morgan performed and choreographed for the CORE contemporary and aerial dance company. After receiving a bachelor of science in dietetics, Morgan moved to Asheville to complete her training to be a registered dietitian. She has always been fascinated by the power of food to influence not only physical ability but also to impact mind and soul. Morgan loves living in the mountains and hopes to never leave. Outside of aerial and dietetics, her passions include connecting with others, swimming holes, and her black cat Bear.
Lauren took her first pole class in 2015 and was instantly in love with the art. Having Ehlers-Danlos syndrome left her looking for activities that would increase muscle mass but wasn’t a traditional workout and pole provided the answer! In 2018, she began teaching classes and her passion only grew. Helping others learn pole skills and grow in strength and confidence has been extremely rewarding. Lauren teaches students from Intro to Level 4 and loves to watch her students success through each stage of their pole journey.
Even as a small child I was enamored by the circus, particularly by the Trapeze and the tightrope. I dreamed of being one of those fancy sequined ladies, dancing and flying way up high in the air. I just never thought this dream would come true. But in August of 2017, at the age of 40, she finally did just that, she enrolled in her first aerial class at Empyrean arts. She immediately became enamored with the trapeze, but admits she still loves all of the aerial apparatuses. Trista is an artist by trade and says being able to express her creativity physically, has completed her creatively.
Trista is a native North Carolinian who has lived in Asheville for the better part of twenty years. She is a full time studio potter, creating functional pottery for the home and the table. She also teaches the continuing ed pottery wheel classes at our local community college. She loves nature! And says exploring new places, going on adventures in the mountains, or trying to find her way to the beach are what brings her the most joy. She loves being active and making things. So when she’s not obsessing over the aerial arts or pottery, she can be found gardening, crocheting, roller skating, doing yoga, and spending time with her critters at her little country homestead, outside of Asheville.
Deciding to fulfill childhood fascination with the aerialists in Cirque du Soleil, Sarah began training with Wise Fool New Mexico in 2014. A relocation to Asheville introduced her to Empyrean Arts and it’s been a heavenly match since. Sarah loves performing on a variety of apparatuses including aerial silks, rope and sling as well as static and dance trapeze. For her, there is something particularly special about bringing vertical skills to a trapeze. A life long love of science and it’s importance in human movement has created a deep adoration for bio mechanically-informed aesthetic performance. This has also encouraged Sarah to begin a doctoral program in physical therapy where she gets to geek out about oxidate enzymes and aerialists simultaneously!
Tori Bailey began her Flexibility-Contortion journey in February 2018 after sampling different classes at Empyrean Arts. Turns out, she doesn’t need an apparatus! Since diving into contortion, she has developed a passion to share the accessibility of flexibility and value of exploratory movement to others. When she’s not being bendy, she is usually working in her art studio, tending to plants, traveling or relaxing in her vintage camper named Ladybird.
A Brevard native, Kathy didn’t start dancing until she was in her early 40’s. After being skinny her entire
life and somewhat active, she found herself about 60 lbs. overweight after reaching the age of 40. She
began her fitness journey in 2016 becoming a Les Mills BodyCombat instructor and it was during that
process it was recommended that she work on her flexibility. This led her to Empyrean Arts and started
her love of Liquid Motion and pole dancing. She began taking classes regularly in April 2016 and has
performed in several student showcases. With each class, she knew this could be something challenging
that she could do long term to maintain her overall health. Along with BodyCombat, Kathy became
certified in Liquid Motion in January 2019 & Twerking in March 2020. She also does annual section hikes
on the Appalachian Trial, swims, and runs the occasional half marathon. Kathy is in better overall
physical condition than she’s ever been and although fitness hasn’t been easy for her, she believes the
overall improvement in her health is well worth the hard work. She also encourages people to find
different activities they enjoy so they move their bodies in different ways to keep them motivated to
continue. Kathy believes that fitness can come in many different forms regardless of your fitness level,
age, or dance experience.
Caroline stumbled into the aerial arts in December 2016 where she began her training at Cirque Appalachia in Boone, NC. After making a move to Asheville, she became involved with the lovely Empyrean Arts. Caroline began her training in aerial silks and now practices aerial hoop/lyra and dance trapeze as well. She is an Empyrean Arts certified/trained Beginning Aerial Arts instructor. Caroline works as a clinical Dietitian and enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, crocheting, making jewelry, and snuggling her large pup when not in the air.
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 beginning bar classes, as well as facilitating creative movement-based classes such as Trapeze Sequencing and Low Dance Bar. 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.
Shannon Gallagher has been part of the Empyrean community since 2015. Although she can appreciate the beauty of all apparatuses, dance trapeze will always be her favorite. When she’s not in the air, she’s making art, spending time outdoors, hanging with her dog, Sammie, or working in the non-profit world.
Lydia began learning aerial arts in 2016, started taking classes at Empyrean and performing with Asheville Aerial Arts in 2019, and joined the work trade program at Empyrean in 2021. Her main love is lyra but she also dabbles in sling and pole!
Caroline Woolard is a certified accessible yoga teacher who enjoys helping others establish a curious and compassionate relationship with movement and their bodies. Caroline guides individuals to explore movement in a variety of ways to discover what feels best for each unique individual. She is passionate about gentle approaches to movement that support the body in releasing tension while also building strength and awareness in a balanced way. Caroline first began taking classes at Empyrean in 2018 and fell in love with spinning on Lyra. Caroline is also a Reiki master and potter. She often spends her time creating pottery in the River Arts District, doing private and group energy sessions, and enjoying time out connecting in nature.
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.