Meet the Team


Nate and Angie Lackey


We are so happy to have you at our studio. We enjoy making a space that is warm and welcoming to all levels of students. We welcome all members of the community. You will not be judged on your race, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or anything else. Diversity is what makes our studio so amazing!

We became involved in circus arts when our youngest daughter started doing aerial. We quickly fell in love with the aerial community and knew it would be part of our family for the rest of our lives. In addition to owning Cirque, Tumble, and Cheer.  Nate is a firefighter for Branciforte Fire. We have 4 children whom you will see in the studio from time to time. We strive to make the studio a home for all of our students and staff where everyone is accepted and wanted. We value kindness, honesty, and respect. Thanks for joining our family!


Caitlin Lackey


Caitlin started her circus journey in Santa Cruz in 2013. Since then, she has been lucky enough to perform and compete both internationally and locally; some examples including Santa Cruz’s 150th Birthday Celebration, Verve’s ten year anniversary, the Boardwalk, and Cathedral of Faith. She produced the show Marionettes with Sarah Lovell, from which their innovative rope duet medaled at Aerial Arts America in 2017. Her award winning Muscle Man act is a crowd favorite.  Caitlin enjoys sharing her love of aerial with her students and emphasizes safety, proper technique, body alignment and fun in her classes. She is a firm believer that aerial is for everyone and has experience working with students of all levels, skills, abilities, and backgrounds! When she is not in the air, Caitlin spends her time studying Kinesiology and Sports Medicine, coaching high school cheer and spending time with her crazy circus family!


Olivia Lackey


Olivia started aerial eight years ago and immediately fell in love. She quit her competitive soccer career to focus full time on the sport. Since then, Olivia has performed internationally and locally. She has spent the last five summers at Circus MECCA’s Advanced Youth Circus Camp and has attended the prestigious Ecole National de Cirque in Montreal. Olivia has performed in countless productions including  at the Cathedral of Faith, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and in the Flynn Creek Circus tent. She has won numerous awards for her Silks, Trapeze and Lyra acts at Aerial Arts America including winning third overall with her act Broken Bones and placing second in Semi-Pro. Olivia is also a competitive acrobatic gymnast. Olivia wants to share her knowledge and passion with others in the circus community. 

Dejon Barber


Dejon first discovered into circus in 2015 in Santa Cruz by a stroke of luck. She took the opportunity to try silks, pole, and lyra during a fun collaborative  week with the Santa Cruz Challenge.  She started training regularly in 2016 focusing on the Aerial Hoop/Lyra. She believes that circus is for everyBODY. She knew she wanted to one day teach beginning lyra setting small goals to reach her ultimate dream. One of her favorite things to do is SPIN, and she’s happy to teach you how. 

Dejon has enjoyed performing at festivals and shows in the bay area. Her favorite by far has been performing at Santa Cruz Pride. She loves to dress up for performances, including shiny costumes and eco friendly glitter! When not Training or Teaching, Dejon enjoys painting happy little skeletons, modeling, and exploring the world. She is also a certified person trainer, certified Yoga instructor, and maintains CPR certification.

She encourages you, if you have an interest or inkling of a desire to TRY aerial to take the leap and  say YES to signing up for your first class.


Karen Maassen


Karen Maassen is a thirty- eight year old professional dancer with a bachelors of arts degree in dance from University of California, Riverside, graduated 2005. Karen's first professional performing job was as a dancer in Parade of the Stars in Disneyland in Anaheim. She continued to work several shows at Disney as a dancer, and then started training as an aerialist when she was 25 years old. After training for years, she started working gigs as an aerialist all over Southern California and nationally, including corporate events, the Venardos Circus tours and several years as a dancer, aerialist, choreographer and fire performer at the LA County Fair. Her most recent show at Disney was a year and a half contract ending in 2017 as the red queen in Disneyland's California Adventure Park in a featured doubles aerial cube act. Karen has also taught and performed aerial hoop, silks, hammock and dance at four different studios in Southern California over the fifteen years she lived in Los Angeles. She moved back to Northern California in 2018. She now lives in Capitola and also teaches Pillates and dance at La Madrona in Scotts Valley.


Jody Ryker


Jody has been training in circus arts since 2011. They specialize in pole dance, aerial hoop, and acrobatics. In 2015, Jody founded the performance group Pole Diversity ( They have directed and produced three hour long shows in Santa Cruz since then. Pole Diversity's mission is to share pole dance in a circus setting, showcase the diversity of pole dance, and to dispel common misconceptions. Jody performs around California at music festivals, events, and circus shows. Most recently, they performed at the theme park California's Great America in the show "Halloween Haunt." Jody also graduated with a master’s degree in pure mathematics and teaches math at Foothill College. Read Jody's pole dancing blog at

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Lisa Christensen


When Lisa's not working as a physical therapist, she loves to fill her time with her husband, Steve, her dogs, OKBoss and Radar, chasing after her 99 year old mother, and being upside down, doing aerial dance of one form or another. Her first aerial training started with Spanish Web training at Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1973 and has continued until today. In 2010, she co-founded Santa Cruz Aerial Playground, the first predecessor of CTC. Recently, she has a blast teaching bungee dance.


Ruby Straehley


Ruby started aerial at age 48.  She is a physical therapist and loves showing people the strength and the joy that comes from working with aerial apparatuses.  The most common thing people will say is that they are not strong enough to do it.  You get strong by doing it, her wish is to modify movements for people so that anyone can do it.  Yes, any age, any weight, anybody. There was a report about a woman who started trapeze at 78, and a documentary about a dancer who was amazing and is a quadruple amputee.  Life is too short to say you are not strong enough!  If you want it, she wants to help you do it.


Sydney Pelz


Sydney has been doing aerial for over 10 years. Sydney started aerial at a summer camp at a young age and has loved it ever since.  She has experience performing internationally and locally; including performances at Cathedral of Faith, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Roaring Camp, and off of the Soquel Bridge for the Santa Cruz Ebb and Flow Festival (2017). Sydney has always loved teaching all ages and levels. She has experience on many apparatuses, including silks, rope, lyra, hammock, trapeze, and aerial bungee. Sydney loves to share her enthusiasm for circus arts with students!


Karri Pelz 


Karri loves all kinds of physical fitness including dance and aerial acrobatics. Karri has been training in aerial arts for over 10 years with a focus on cord lisse (rope), silks and lyra. She has performed both internationally and locally for festivals, private events, and productions. She performed at venues such as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Cathedral of Faith, and Roaring Camp. She also won first place open solo at Aerial Arts America in 2016 for cord lisse. Karri wants to share her love for fitness and movement through aerial dance!


Kylie Ireland

Silks/Contortion/Flow Arts

Kylie is a circus artist from southern California. Some skills she teaches include aerial, contortion, flow arts, and acrobatics. Her passion for aerial stems from it being beautiful to watch and fun to unlock new skills, not to mention it's a great way to workout. She has been practicing circus arts for 10+ years. Originally, started training as an extracurricular activity with a youth circus program in her hometown. She enjoys teaching because it makes her happy to watch students learn new things and see what their body is capable of. Kylie has done performances at pep rallies, community events, and private parties! Some of her other hobbies include shuffling, concerts, going on adventures or to the beach :) One of her favorite aerial quotes is “whether you think you can or not you're right”. She believes this to be true because aerial is not just a great way to strengthen your body but your mind as well. With enough consistency and confidence you can truly achieve amazing things. Something she wants her students to know is she always promotes a positive learning environment and encourages everyone to try a class regardless of what limitations they think might hold them back.

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Almira Andi  


Almira took her first aerial class in 2014 in Bali, Indonesia and fell in love instantly. Without prior athletic nor dance background, she became strong and flexible entirely from doing aerial. She tried several apparatuses, however, her focus is on silks and recently rope/corde lisse. She trained in Bali until 2016 then moved to Santa Cruz and continued her training, in 2019 she competed on Viva Fest in Las Vegas as well as earning her aerial teaching level 1 certification through Aerial Physique in Los Angeles. She believes proper technique & safety are key for aerial to avoid bad habits and injury, which is what she emphasizes on her classes. Almira really enjoys teaching new students and sharing her love of aerial arts. She loves seeing her students’ expressions when they nail something new or simply progressing their skills. Almira believes aerial arts is for everyone, very accessible, it's super fun, you don't feel like working out but you will notice you get stronger every time you come to class. When she is not in the air, she can be found on the beach with her English bulldog and making jewelry. 


Sybil Lam 


Sybil grew up as a competitive gymnast and is arguably more comfortable in the gym than anywhere else. In 2015, she started weightlifting and later expanded into powerlifting and, briefly, Olympic weightlifting. Later, she competed in street workout before focusing on artistic gymnastics again (her favorite event is the uneven bars!). She's worked as a team coach and manager at Ohana Gymnastics, served as the fitness manager and a master trainer at 24 Hour Fitness, and now works as an independent trainer, specializing in corrective exercise, pre/post natal clients, and active agers. She's fascinated by the intersection between strength training and bodyweight sports and is always seeking the optimal balance between strength, mobility, and power. Nowadays, you'll find her either lifting weights, practicing handbalancing, or open water swimming.


Nicole Beyer


Nicole started her aerial journey in 2018 after a childhood friend showed her that, in fact, you did not have to grow up in the circus to be able to do aerial. She loves building community and is passionate about making aerial more accessible for everyone. When she’s not in the air you’ll find Nicole practicing yoga, hiking/backpacking, or thinking about what to eat next.


Max Newstead


Max has been doing Circus since he was 5 years old at his family's circus, Circus Mecca, in northern California. He eventually fell in love with straps when he was 11 and hasn't looked back since. His goal as a teacher is to help improve strength, reduce the risk of injury in students, and creating a space where straps are open for everyone. When not in the gym you can find him surfing, tide pooling, or reading a good book.

Laura Downs


Laura fell in love with aerial hoop/lyra in Winter 2016. Aerial hoop was a fun and new form of fitness which she dubbed a “sneaky form of fitness.” Aerial hoop ignited her passion to be an athlete again, she grew up playing sports such as volleyball, soccer and swimming. Laura dabbles in rope, specifically for added strength and conditioning to her fitness routine, she can also be found in the gym lifting heavy things! She loves aerial and it has shown her the strength she can build both mentally and physically. As an instructor, she loves to teach fun transitions and finds joy in seeing her students progress in their aerial journey! She encourages her students to create their own pathways and explore! She believes aerial is for all and encourages those who are interested to come try it out!

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Chloe Rifkin 

Trapeze, Lyra, Silks, Rope

Chloe first started training in aerial silks when she was 10 years old. Growing up, she always loved to climb. She even tied a rope up on her spiral staircase in her childhood apartment to swing and spin on. It was then that her mother, Wendy, found out about aerial arts. Chloe began to attend classes at her local dance and aerial studio and immediately fell in love. She joined the company there when she was 11 years old and began to perform in bi annual recitals on multiple apparatuses. As she got older, she started training consistently on dance trapeze at The Loft in Los Angeles, California where she is from. Chloe then went on to perform trapeze with that studio for several years. Aerial is an enormous part of Chloe’s life. It is her outlet and passion. She loves to spin, flow, and dance in the air as a form of self expression. When she is not training, Chloe is a full time student at UC Santa Cruz studying Education. She loves to teach, work with kids, and overall spread positivity in any way she can! 


KC Daly


KC has been training aerial for 8 years. Most of KCs training has been at Deleon Dynamics, an amazing training facility in San Diego. She began on aerial silks but trains on a multitude of apparatuses. She joined a competition and performance demo team at 13. She has performed and competed in many competitions across the United States. Most notably she placed 2nd place at the international competition, VIVA fest, in Las Vegas.

KC began coaching at 15 on primarily silks but has also coached hammock, rope, flexibility, and conditioning. She also loves to choreograph and help with routine development. KC has choreographed 1st placing routines at Deleon Cirque Fest. She began performing professionally at 18 years old and performed on an aerial anchor, aerial star, aerial net, and a bubble sphere. Aerial has always been a passion for KC and she is extremely excited to continue training and coaching in Santa Cruz. KC hopes to teach, inspire and share all of her love for aerial  with every one of her students. 


Catherine Poland

Neuromuscular Massage Therapist/Front Desk/ Assistant  Manager

Catherine Poland is a new mom to an amazing little girl as well as Neuromuscular Massage Therapist. She started working in the Sports Medicine world back when she was a sophomore in high school and attended Cabrillo College to get her degree in Kinesiology to become and Athletic Trainer until a drastic shift in her life lead to massage therapy. Catherine ended up attending the San Jose branch of National Holistic Institute College of Massage Therapy where
she completed roughly 900 hours of training in both Western Medicine (Swedish, deep tissue, sports Massage, etc.) and Eastern Medicine (acupressure, Thai massage, hot stones, etc.) And another 500 hours in Neuromuscular and Trigger Point Massage.
Through all of that training, Catherine has had the honor of working not only in high school sports (Harbor High,

Santa Cruz High, and Soquel High), but also in college (Cabrillo College), minor league (Santa Cruz Warriors and San Jose Barracuda) as well as professional sports (San Jose Sharks). All of this has led to her newest adventure at Cirque, Tumble, and Cheer where she hopes to bring her healing abilities to the circus community.

Due to a severe car accident leaving Catherine unable to walk, let alone stand for several years, on top of so many
other sports related injuries over the decades, Catherine has developed a unique way of looking
at each individual person to help assess what is going on and bring function back into everyones
daily life. Whether your an active athlete or a weekday warrior, your pain and/or discomfort should never go unnoticed.

David Poznic

Cyr Wheel

From studying Kung Fu at a Shaolin monastery in the mountains of China to teaching acrobatics and dance across Europe, David’s career has led him to coach, perform, and direct in more than 20 countries. David worked as Director of Havik Circus in the Dominican Republic, performed acrobatics in an 80-city N. American tour with Cirque Dreams, and spent two years in India as circus coach and personal trainer to Bollywood movie star Aamir Khan. In 2018, after completing four years of international touring with his mask / circus / music show, “BOOM!,” David moved from Paris back to Santa Cruz, where he started his circus career 25 years ago.   


Bradley Jackson


Brad Jackson who has taught hundreds of students how to juggle at Penn State University,
University of California Santa Cruz, and San Jose State University. Brad decided to forgo an early opportunity
to attend Barnum and Bailey Clown School and instead became a math professor. Fortunately the gods were
smiling on him and he got to supervise juggling clubs and teaching juggling classes at three different
universities in addition to teaching a variety of math courses. In addition to math and juggling Brad is known
for his general wackiness, he once ran the San Jose 10K race while juggling 3 clubs and followed that up the
next year by running the San Jose 10K race on stilts each time ending up with his picture on the front page of
the San Jose Mercury News.