Teacher Feature: Chelsea

Chelsea meathook shotWelcome 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 second featured teacher, Chelsea!

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

Ten years ago, I was living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  After some prodding from my friend, Rain, to come take her classes I decided to give it a try.  It looked hard but I figured I’d give it a go.  I was about to get my degree and looking for more creative outlets since I was about to get booted into the real world post art school.  I continued my education with Wisefool and received a wonderful foundation there, definitely another reason to make it a tourist destination.

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

The hardest point as an aerialist was the move to Austin.  I found there was very little aerials here and it was a very different culture.  Luckily, I found a space to train and a partner to train with.  She had just moved to Austin to save up to attend the New England Center for Circus Arts the following year and we embarked on a beautiful year of conditioning, immersed ourselves in silks theory and began teaching.  So although at first I struggled to find “my people”, I found my gym wife, had a wonderful time and when that year came to an end founded Sky Candy with Andy Agne and Winnie Hsia.

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

Two things.  One- get rigging savvy as fast as you possibly can.  Two- I would actually like to share these words from my friend Cohdi Harrell, because it’s everything.

Do it because you love it and for no other reason.
There is no work your gonna get that is actually worth the time and effort of your practice other than your own work.
Do your own work. Figure it out.
Be multifaceted, don’t overly specialize.
Be flexible.
Don’t be a dick.
Don’t let people take advantage of you…. they have the money you need, but you have what they need to make their thing special.
FIND WHATS SPECIAL ABOUT YOURSELF…. and develop it. this is your greatest tool.
Stop trying to be “that act” “that thing” “that guy”….. the arts need no more derivative performance…. that’s covered… we need innovators.
It’s the responsibility of the artist to create the market…. minimizing yourself into some mediocre idea that producer think is salable is not serving anyone.
YOU are the boss. Compromise only enough to be generous but not so much to compromise any piece of your integrity.
Totally do whatever you need to do to pay your rent.
Develop an educated sense of preference and opinion.
Be soft and fierce simultaneously.
Stop watching youtube and find your own f-ing thing.
Stay humble.
Be nice in the dressing room.
Cirque du Soleil is McDonalds…. and totally a good gig if you can get it and dont mind performing to that music.
CHALLENGE yourself to keep making, keep growing.
Do it…..

What is your favorite thing about being an aerialist?

Currently, working on my duo trapeze act with my partner is my everything.  After so many years of doing aerials, I finally get to fly, which has been a dream of mine since I was first learning aerials. Also, that sweet, sweet silks theory.  Even now, years later I look at the silks and find new things, sometimes it’s things that I’ve been looking at one way for years and suddenly it’s like a hidden message. It’s wonderful to be able to surprise yourself and to take pride in your own innovation.

What is your favorite thing about teaching at Sky Candy?

Well, as a founder, I have to say that is very satisfying to me to look back over the years and chart the explosion of popularity in aerials in Austin and know that I am in part responsible.  As I said, it was very lonely here in the beginning, now I see circus people all the time.  I’ve met so many people doing this over the years, I hope that at the end of the day, I’ve helped people.

You can find more information about Chelsea on her website.

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