Teacher Spotlight: Ginger Snaps
Tell us about your early life
“Like half of Austin, I was born in Houston, TX and lived in various Texas cities before moving to Colorado for high school and college. I was, unsurprisingly, a very excitable kid and super into the arts so I did gymnastics as a little-Ginger, and later took part in choir and musical theater. I played the French horn for 13 years.
I was also super into animals, so I worked in a vet clinic and definitely subscribed to Cat Fancy, where a pic of one of my cats was featured. Did I mention I was really nerdy? I was REALLY nerdy.”
What brought you to Austin?
“My brother was attending UT and I came to visit. While perusing the aisles at Toy Joy, I decided this city was the appropriate amount of weird for me and made the decision to move here!“
What first drew you to aerial work?
“I have been performing burlesque for over 11 years, before I even really knew what aerial was, and on one occasion I performed in a show that some Sky Candies of days past were in. I had a lot of great (and hilariously intriguing) backstage conversations with Sky Candy co-founder Andy (I miss you Andy!) who encouraged me to come try a class, and the rest is history!”
Tell us about your education
“I went to Colorado State University and, like many a young person who doesn’t know what to do with themselves, got a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. But more importantly, I took full advantage of all the extracurriculars and on a whim started taking classes in jazz, ballet, and tap – and I haven’t stopped moving since!
I also worked in student government in the activity programming department and helped produce shows from small comedy showcases to arena concerts. Because I clearly was not busy enough, I worked in theater both at CSU and for IATSE where I did lighting design, audio engineering, stagehand-ing, stadium spotlight operation, and electrics.
While at CSU I decided to explore makeup artistry and did makeup and wigs for multiple theater companies and touring Broadway shows and won an award for makeup design. My sophomore year of college, I started a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast that I booked around town at various venues and even a couple colleges. (This is how you make the best weird friends, many of whom I am still very close with.)“
Tell us about your first aerial class
“My first class was a hammock intro class, and I was very excited to go upside down. I didn’t have any upper body strength to speak of, but I had a ton of fun creatively falling over. I left class a little sore but very happy and have not looked back since! Eventually, I grew some muscles.”
How did you get involved with Sky Candy?
“I already knew some candies loosely from other performances in and around Austin, and my boyfriend at the time was the website designer for Sky Candy, so it was the first place I went! I believe I saw a show there before I started taking classes – I think it was The Time Machine.”
How did you decide to become an aerial instructor? What was your teacher training process like?
“I began teaching non-aerial classes first, specifically burlesque and makeup/wigs since that was what I did professionally. Sky Candy didn’t have classes like that at the time so I offered up my skills. I segued into teaching aerials pretty naturally as my own skills progressed. Eventually, I started teaching Intro to Aerials and lyra classes as well as my own brand of “spin-your-face-off-but-really-gracefully” lyra (known on the class schedule as Dance Lyra).”
Has there been an instructor/coach/performer who has impacted or inspired you?
“Andy Agne (now Andy Ryan) brought me from hammock to the round side! It took me a month and a half of being lukewarm about lyra before I really got into spinning, which Andy was all too happy to encourage! He also was really great about exploring adaptations and alternatives with me and encouraging my creativity.”
What is your favorite thing about being an aerial instructor?
“I love it when a student who doesn’t think they can do something gets it and they get that astonished-at-themselves look on their face!”
Describe your teaching philosophy. What would a student experience in one of your classes?
“My teaching philosophy is all about having fun and finding your confidence! Students can expect a lot of dad jokes, laughing, and overly-detailed descriptions of what your body is trying to do because I’m a big nerd about anatomy and really like talking about muscles.”
If you could give a brand new student one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Just relax and have fun! This is a big kid playground so focus less on trying to measure up and more on the glee of it all!“
Tell us about a particularly impactful moment you’ve had with a student
“For me, it’s more of a series of moments. My favorite class to teach is Intro To Aerials For Plus Sized Bodies because so many plus sized folks are led to believe they can’t be strong or graceful. So when they come take a class and DO THE THING, they prove themselves and society wrong, and it’s such a beautiful thing.“
Tell us about your experience as an aerial performer
“Performing is my favorite thing to do and I basically hopped out of the womb in a top hat and sparkles, so I was performing within a year of starting classes. My first solo aerial act was actually on hammock, and I was just so excited to have a pullover!
Early on I also performed a really fun Barbarella-themed aerial burlesque routine with Andy and so began incorporating aerial work into my burlesque! This was a huge turning point in my performance career – since then, I have gotten to perform across America on some truly beautiful stages for audiences of 50 to 1,000, including the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekender at The Orleans in Vegas. I have won multiple awards for my performances.
I also performed on America’s Got Talent and (Rona-willing) have performances coming up in Germany, France, and Brazil! I’ve gotten really good at dragging large circles of steel through airports and answering ‘What do you do with THAT?’ ad nauseum.”
What excites you about aerial performance? What would you like to see the aerial world do next, creatively?
“I love the diversity of styles in aerial performance, the creativity, and the gracefulness. It really can be whatever you make it, and I’m excited to see more people develop *their own* style outside of what the “expected” aerial performance is. Accessibility is a huge part of this, and as this artform becomes more accessible, I look forward to seeing more diversity in performances.”
What do you find challenging in your own aerial practice?
“I find that sometimes I fall into a “sequence rut” where I have certain sequences I really like that I use a lot. I need to find more time to explore new things. Time management is hard when you are your own choreographer, costumer, marketing agent, booker, producer, etc.”
What’s your favorite way to indulge?
Aside from aerial work, what are your passions, hobbies, and interests?
“Sci fi books, sci fi movies, glitter, cats, dogs, makeup, wigs, glitter, rhinestones, mediocre gardening, biking, costume creation, painting, car fiddling, and glitter. Also glitter.“