THE 1ST & LONGEST RUNNING CIRCUS SCHOOL IN DURANGO, CO (2015-present)
Durango Aerial Arts & Acrobatics (DAAA) offers educational training in aerial arts, acrobatics, juggling, unicycle, rolling globe, clowning, stilt-walking, hand-balancing and more, to people of all ages in a safe and supportive atmosphere. We hope to instill body awareness and a strong work ethic that will be beneficial to our students even outside of the studio. We teach with the intention of encouraging students to challenge themselves in new and exciting ways, at the same time absorbing the knowledge of how to be safe and how to perform with grace.
ABOUT OUR STAFF:
Elle Carpenter-Hockett (Artistic Director, Instructor, Performer):
Originally from Vermont, Elle started as a child in competitive gymnastics and stage acting. She became extremely interested in circus arts after performing with the High Flyers Family Circus in Bloomington, IN at age 11, and continued training with Circus Smirkus coaches Zina and Vladimir Augustov, (graduates of Moscow's State Circus and Variety College) in between gymnastics lessons. Since graduating from American University with a BA in Musical Theatre, Elle has worked as a performer, director, choreographer and instructor in musical theatre, on film & television, for large corporate events and as a guest artist in theatrical productions. As a performer Elle has appeared on TV (Grey’s Anatomy, House M.D., Conan O’Brien, Cake Wars) and live with the Eye of Newt Circus, Dream World Cirque, Le Petit Cirque, The LA Circus, Cirque De La Mer at Sea World, and the Kennedy Center, (Carnival 2007). In addition to founding and working for DAAA and The Durango Circus Elle has taught circus classes all ages, camps, and workshops with Wunderle’s Big Top Adventures, Focusfish, Le Petit Cirque, and various circus companies around the USA. On top of being a circus artist, Elle is also a professional actor and singer-songwriter.
Mark Maness (Instructor, Performer):
Mark has been juggling for over twenty years. He specializes in “numbers,” clubs, passing, and creative teaching methods. DAAA has been thrilled to discover Mark’s philosophical approach and the awareness-practice in which he specializes. Life is about more than the juggling, and Mark incorporates life lessons into his classes. As a performer he’s done solo shows at Fort Lewis as a pre-show for “the Tempest”, at Elitch Gardens as a street performer, and now with The Durango Circus. During the week days, Mark works at Cortez Integrated Health as a therapist.
Dylan Haley (Instructor, Performer):
Born and raised in Durango, CO, Dylan likes academics and prefers going to school rather than staying at home. She started aerial arts with DAAA in January of 2021, started performing with The Durango Circus later than year, and it’s been a solid part of her life ever since. As the oldest of four children in a mixed family, Dylan wouldn't have it any other way. Mainly because of that, she loves teaching and hanging with kids, and loves to build relationships with every single person with whom she works. Aerial is a giant center of her attention - even though she is advancing quickly in all areas of circus, and is grateful to circus arts because they have drastically influenced her sense of self (in a good way).
Alyssa Buescher (Instructor, Performer):
Alyssa is a circus performer and artist coordinator who has managed and performed on stages nationwide. She has also been in music videos including Chevel Shepards, "Just like the Circus" alongside DAAA owner Elle and students. Alyssa was a Junior Olympic gymnast from the ages of 8-18. She began her coaching career at the age of 13 and was a head junior Olympic coach by the age of 20. With 16 years of junior Olympic coaching experience, Alyssa is a skilled spotter with a keen eye for proper technique. She believes strongly in safe progressions and individualizes her lesson plans to each student to help them safely reach their highest potential. Her love of acro and and partner acrobatics began in her years as a college cheerleader. She had been commissioned to create an acro program for 2 dance studios in the midwest. She developed the curriculum; coaching for 1 year while training their staff on proper technique and spotting. She is very excited to be collaborating with DAAA and The Durango Circus!
Riva Roy-Ehri (Instructor, Performer)
Riva first started doing aerial arts at age 9 in Bloomington, Indiana. She then continued it on and off for the next 3 years before finding DAAA and fully delving into all things circus. Riva now trains in aerial, mostly silks, Lyra and trapeze, as well as partner acrobatics, a variety of circus props including stilt walking, poi, and plate spinning. Riva had featured roles with The Durango Circus in both A Circus Nutcracker 2022 and Circus in Wonderland 2023, particularly enjoying the role of the Cheshire Cat. Riva is fully dedicated to circus, and is thrilled to be pursuing it as a career. Though circus is her passion, she also spends her time reading, doing art, and hanging out with her two ferocious house chickens.