ALUMNI

Luis Torres

Luis began his artistic career at the age of seven, competing in ice skating competitions. He began to study gymnastics and dance shortly after. In 2002, he moved to Portland, OR to join Pendulum and performed with the company for two years before moving to Los Angeles to pursue opportunities in the entertainment industry, working as a producer and stage manager at the famous Circus Disco and Arena Cafe. He rejoined Pendulum in 2008 and has performed in every production since that time.

After 13 years of performing with Suzanne and Pendulum Luis stepped away from the stage in 2015. He currently serves as Pendulum’s CFO.

Laura Stokes

Working for Pendulum Aerial Arts has undoubtably been the largest single influence on my artistic development and hence career. It was through PAA that I was introduced to aerials and the world of circus. I joined PAA in 2003 with a background in dance and gymnastics and continued to work as a company member until 2006. During this time, under the brilliant direction of Suzanne Kenney, I had the opportunity to study, collaborate, and perform with an incredible wealth of international circus artists, each of whom laid some piece of the foundation for the development of my own work in the field of contemporary circus. Towards the end of my engagement with PAA I met my collaborator Cohdi Harrell who came to work with PAA as a guest artist for two weeks. In the time since then, we have founded our own company, The Ricochet Project. Our most recent production, Smoke and Mirrors, was the recipient of a 2015 Total Theatre Award, and has toured around the world to festivals such as Montreal Completement Cirque and CircusFest London.

Nicky Pearson

I thank Pendulum Aerial Arts and Suzanne Kenney for helping me to discover my inner artist. After working with this company for two years I developed a much truer sense of who I was onstage and what I wanted to portray. I credit them with setting me on the path to the career that I have today.

Nicole Pearson is an award winning aerialist and former Cirque du Soleil artist (duo web and solo aerial silks, OVO Japan tour). She has most recently been working with Costa Cruises as part of Duo Nico, performing duo aerial straps and solo aerial silks.

Tanya Burka

A National Circus School graduate specializing in aerial acts, Tanya Burka was a company member of Pendulum Aerial Arts from 2007-2008 and has continued her relationship with the company as a contributing artist in education, choreography and artistic development ever since. She has toured as a solo artist with Cirque du Soleil (2011-2013), performing her own choreography to the iconic “Aerial Contortion in Silks” act in Quidam, been an original cast creation member with Cirque Eloize, and has performed across Asia, Europe and North America. She is also an acclaimed coach in aerial arts and contortion, participating as a workshop leader, panel judge, and/or performer at aerial festivals across the US, including Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Festival, Aerial Acrobatic Arts Festival, Southern Fried Circus Fest, and Vancouver Circus Fest.

Anna Vigeland

Anna Vigeland performed as a circus artist before beginning to collaborate across genres, co-creating, choreographing, and co-directing a host of different performance projects. She first began working with Pendulum in 2008 performing in the production Backstage.

She pursued training in circus arts (National Circus School of Montreal, first American at the Chambery Circus School in France) and later in journalism (University of Massachusetts).

Melissa Kellerman

Melissa has collaborated with Pendulum in a multitude of ways since 2008. With a BFA in Oil Painting from the Pacific Northwest College of Art from 2010, she strives to transform the circus into a conceptual art form. Melissa is a multidisciplinary artist which allows her to assist with everything from choreography to prop design and show concepts.

She began her training in 1998 in Sarasota, FL where she had the unique opportunity to join the historic Sailor Circus Academy. During her seven years with the program, she studied everything from clowning to tightrope, but focused primarily on aerial arts.

During Melissa’s time with Pendulum she was featured in many of our productions, worked as creator and director of youth productions and served as Head of Education 2015-16.

Melissa officially retired from circus in 2016 and is now living a happy, wedded life, pursuing her painting career.

MoNika Ell

MoNika Ell began working with Pendulum Aerial Arts as a recreational student at age 15 and graduated from the Professional Training Program in 2006. He became a company member and coach in 2007. In 2010, MoNika had the privilege of working with Suzanne Kenney as Assistant Artistic Director and core company member in the original touring production of High Art. His interest in learning pole has led to numerous awards including best male performer in Portland, Oregon, 2nd place at the prestigious Pole Passion “World Pole Dance Sport and Fitness Championship” in the United Kingdom, 1st place at the Florida Pole Fitness Championship and 1st place in the 2014 National Aerial Pole Art Male All Star Championship.

MoNika currently resides in Los Angeles, California where he is a fitness guru working for Lagree Fitness teaching pole and aerial.

Sarah Hardy

Pendulum has been the core and base of my circus training and development, both as a technical aerialist and a performing artist. The artistic focus of Pendulum is an extremely unique facet of the company, and a piece of it that I connected strongly with during my time there. As a circus student I was thrilled to get to learn from so many incredible coaches from differring circus backgrounds and experiences; as a company member later on I was honored to work beside them. I am excited to be working at such a high level now, and enjoy coming back to Pendulum when I can to keep the cycle going and work with the next generation of circus artists that are coming up through the program!

Sarah is currently touring with CDS’s Amaluna as a strap artist.

Josie Oleson

My time with PAA since I was 9 was such a huge part of my formative years. I received instruction in a variety of disciplines, where I gained strength and flexibility simultaneously, and I had so many opportunities to learn from professionals who had worked with world famous circus companies like Cirque du Soleil. I learned about stage presence and the value of performance, both of which encouraged the development of my self-confidence and self worth.

As I grew up with PAA, the transition from student to company member and coach felt natural and seamless. My experience leading up to that point had prepared me to step into the role of teaching students by meeting them where they were at and finding ways to encourage them to progress in their skills like technique and performance. I loved performing as a company member as well, whether it was as entertainment at a party or in an elaborate, choreographed show in a theater. My time with PAA holds a special place in my heart, and I feel so fortunate to have spent so many years there. For now, I am focusing on finishing school to get my Master’s degree and to become a registered dietician, but there’s no doubt I’ll stay in touch and keep updated on what’s happening at PAA!

Madeline Knox

Madeleine began her training with Pendulum in 2007 in their recreational program. She became an apprentice in 2009 with duo partner and apprentice Nikki Unwin, creating a duo trapeze and ground act together as well as being a part of the original High Art cast during its creation and 2011-12 national tour.

She began her Mongolian contortion training with Alixa Sutton and Tanya Burka in 2009.   She then trained intensively with Tsengeee Byamnbordj and Gunnar Field.  Having been trained in a variety of different circus disciplines, Madeleine created her first solo fabric act upon becoming a company member and recreational coach in 2011. In 2012, after taking a seven month hiatus to travel, she returned to Pendulum to continue to pursue rope and fabric as her primary disciplines.

She is currently living and training in Brooklyn while attending Pratt Institute for Industrial Design.   She has continued to train with the best contortion coaches in New York such as Kazu Khan, and Anna Vienzuelos. She performs with Hybrid Movement Company in New York and returns every summer to run our Summer Intensive program.  Madi has performed nationwide as an aerialist and contortionist for such clients as Nike, Intel, CDS.

Nikki Unwin

Nikki discovered her passion in a youth circus called Fern Street Circus in San Diego. Once her family moved to Oregon she more seriously pursued circus arts by joining Pendulum. After some time in the recreational classes, she completed the Apprentice program with a focus on handstands, dance trapeze, and duo work.

She then joined the company during the 2011-2012 season and has performed with Pendulum since that time, touring regionally and nationally.In her time as a company member she performed aerial kite, solo trapeze, and duo work in corporate gigs and company shows.

Now she is living in San Diego, training handstands and hand to hand as well as teaching aerial at the San Diego Circus Center.

Luna Brie Blakeman

Luna has been charming audiences nationally and internationally since 2006. She has a background in dance-hoop, fire performance, yoga, aerial arts, and modern dance, and is best known for her creative integration of multi-hoop formations and traditional circus hoop tricks paired with experimental hoop dance flow. Luna has traveled to India twice, hired by Samsung Mobile to promote the 2008 Olympic games through performance, and has worked with acclaimed contemporary circus companies such as Quixotic Fusion, Madison House, and Lunar Fire.

In 2001 Luna was visionary and co-founder of MoonDrop Circus, a successful community circus based in Kansas City, Missouri. She completed Pendulum Aerial Arts’ Professional Training Program in 2014.

You can find Luna as a resident artist and hoop teacher on tour  with Wonderlust.

Lia Dawley

My experiences at Pendulum were a formative part of my childhood.  I began at age 11 in the FAIS gym classes and continued onto the after school program.  In 2004, I was a founding member of the Pendulum Flyers, a youth aerial group that performed in the community and practiced over 10 hours a week.  We studied with aerial professionals from around the world, and we were challenged artistically to develop choreography and physically to improve our flexibility.  I maintain that there is no better workout than a class at Pendulum!  I grew as an artist, gaining confidence through our performances at companies such as  Macy’s and Nike, and I honed my organizational and time management skills, balancing our practice with other extracurricular activities and school work.  Pendulum was my creative community throughout high school, and I am grateful for the program’s education and friendships.