Teacher Feature: Winnie

Welcome to our series of blog posts featuring our beloved Sky Candy teachers! We’ve asked your favorite teachers to share their aerial history with us, and let us in on their thoughts about being an aerialist and aerial teacher- check out our first featured teacher, Winnie!

How long have you been doing aerials? When and where did you start? 

I started as an aerial student in January 2009. I took my first classes at a silks studio in Austin for a year and a half before starting Sky Candy (as the owner/business manager) with Chelsea and Andy as our first teachers. I started teaching in early 2011 and have done yearly teacher training with the New England Center for Circus Arts since 2013.

Tell us a bit about your aerial journey- what challenges have you faced? What obstacles have you overcome?

My aerial journey has been a slow one to say the least. Having zero background in dance, gymnastics or really anything particularly athletic or physical, finding body awareness and strength was a huge challenge for me at the beginning. It took me seven 1.5 hour long private lessons before I made my first successful ascent up a silk with *one* basic climb. But oh – the sheer surprise and joy of that moment! I suddenly remembered my elementary school gym teacher who told me I would *never* have upper body strength and I realized just how long I’d thought of myself as incapable and weak. That moment was the moment that opened the door to hundreds of other moments that have over the years completely transformed how I think about my body and what it is capable of.

The initial challenges I faced in becoming an aerialist, along with the (unplanned!) breaks I’ve had to take due to (unrelated!) illnesses and family emergencies have helped me stay empathetic to new students, as well as continuing to maintain a positive outlook on my own training. In circus, there is always an *impossible* thing to strive for and once you’ve conquered one impossible thing, you find the next. It’s an endlessly humbling, but gratifying and empowering adventure!

If you could give yourself as a beginning aerialist one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Just trying makes you stronger – so keep at it. Patience, persistence and practice yield great rewards.

What is your favorite thing about being an aerialist? 

Beating drunk, misogynistic guys in arm wrestling is pretty sweet, but on a day-to-day basis the thing that brings me the most joy is being happy with my body – something I did not feel for almost my entire adolescence and early 20s. Instead of striving to fit a particular body ideal, I strive to be a better teacher and a better performer and those things have helped me enjoy living in my body.

What is your favorite thing about teaching at Sky Candy?

My job is to empower people to be the best, strongest, badass-est versions of themselves… I have the best job in the world. 🙂

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