Amy Cohen - Founder and Director
Amy is a circus instigator and educator who believes that circus can change the world. She holds a B.S. in arts management from Ithaca College, an MA in “circus as a tool for social change, education, and creative expression” from NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and was a Fulbright Scholar to the UK researching contemporary circus culture and education in London. Amy has spoken on panels about circus arts and education all around the world. She is the founder of Ithaca College's circus arts club, ICircus which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and in 2008 she was named one of the top 40 leaders under 40 years old in Tompkins County.
Amy has been teaching circus arts for 13 years all around the US and UK. She was apprenticed into circus teaching by an esteemed group of circus artists and educators from around the USA including founding members of the Big Apple Circus. She is a Ring Three CircusYoga Teacher, and has a 120 hour Social Circus Training Certificate from Cirque du Soleil. In addition to founding and directing Circus Culture, Amy is the Executive Director of the American Youth Circus Organization. She is honored to serve both the local Ithaca community and the national circus sector.
Claire Dehm - Studio Manager
Claire first began her love for circus when she was 8 years old while taking clowning lessons. She always joked that she was going to run away and join the circus, and she did just that when she found ICircus, the college circus club while attending Ithaca College. Claire holds a B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications and a minor in Recreation. Claire has been a circus instructor for over 7 years. During college she spent her summers teaching flying trapeze and other circus arts at a camp in Pennsylvania. After graduating for college, Claire was hired by a social circus in St. Louis, MO. She moved back to Ithaca in 2016 where she started managing Circus Culture. Claire is also a program mananger for the American Youth Circus Organization.
Claire is passionate about the circus arts and inspired by the people around her, especially the kids! Claire loves circus because there is a role for everyone. Hup!
Alex started circusing when she took her first class in 2014, and has been involved with Circus Culture since its opening in 2015, both as a student and as a teacher. She is inspired by how circus teaches us to be better people in ways we don't expect, and how it challenges us. She is especially interested in understanding how different people learn, and believes there is a space for everyone in circus arts. Alex has been unschooled her whole life, and likes to write and eat watermelon. Circus is family and home all wrapped up into one, and she is grateful to be a part of it.
The first time Rachel fell in love with circus was 4 years ago and it has been her passion ever since! She discovered it first by teaching herself how to hoop dance in her living room, and then took the first ever circus class taught by Amy Cohen at the Community School of Music and Arts in Ithaca, NY. After completely immersing herself in everything Circus Culture had to offer she decided to further her education by training for 6 months at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, VT. It was after that adventure that she decided to dedicate herself to teaching trapeze, and partner acrobatics. It was a life altering moment to have found such a supportive, and inspiring community in Ithaca. She has since strived to continue cultivating that same experience and atmosphere for many of her students.
Rachel is inspired by the way circus arts can be shared within the community in a way that’s completely non-exclusive. She has so much gratitude for Amy Cohen and all of the other teachers she’s worked with for instilling the methods and teaching philosophies that have made her proud to be a circus educator.
Rachel believes that circus is a wonderful space for trusting in your own abilities, letting go of fears, and letting your mistakes be your successes!
Steve, a physical educator and collegiate gymnastics coach for 13 years, has always been intrigued by physical movement. This interest lead him to become a competitive high school and collegiate gymnast himself. Steve earned his BS in physical education at Springfield College, and honed his coaching craft at the club and college levels. Steve earned his MS in education at SUNY Cortland while coaching the Women's Gymnastics Team and teaching as a Senior Lecturer in the Physical Education Major at Cortland. All in all he has taught and coached all levels of gymnastic and physical education for over 30 years.
As a competitive gymnast at Springfield College he received his first taste of "circus" as a member of the Springfield College exhibition team, which traveled throughout the greater New England area. The gymnasts performed shows at various high schools and venues. His biggest thrill was performing in front of thousands of people at the Springfield Civic center. The program not only featured gymnastics and dance routines, but also acrobatic stunts, hand balancing and pyramid building.
Steve is inspired by the beauty of human movement, especially how a circus performer like a gymnast, can make tremendously difficult movements, look incredibly easy...circus is magically awesome!
Holly began circusing without knowing it--climbing to the tops of money bars and trees, and swinging off into space. She also was voted class clown. And kept getting cast in the comic roles for plays. Finally Holly left school and studied acting and performance. She graduated from the International Dell 'Arte School, holds an MA in Theatre, Education, and Social Change, and continues to take seminars and workshops to grow as an educator and as a performer.
Holly is a passionate teaching artist and has performed and fostered circus, clown, and community-voice projects across North America and around the world; favorite recent projects include the Afghan Children's Circus in Kabul and the brand new Theatre Company in Balan, Haiti. Holly also creates new work annually with physical theatre company Kakeru, is a SAG-AFTRA Actress and Audiobook Narrator (check out her IMDb page), and does a lot of Shakespeare!
Holly believes that art is how we really connect to, process and understand our world, each other, our best selves, our worst selves, our communities, our divinities, our learning, our living, our dying-- performance arts inspire us to heal, discover, and grow.
Holly is inspired by children, colors, sound, textures, movement of wind and water and leaves...the great clowns of different times and places, dogs (the ultimate clown teachers), and her incredible mother. Circus is joy!
Emily teaches dance at Circus Culture. She graduated from Ithaca College in 2014 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Dance. While at school she performed with the Ithaca Ballet Company and On The Floor dance company. Since graduating, Emily has loved expanding her movement horizons while exploring contemporary dance, Gaga, contact improv, and performance improvisation, as well as yoga and Thai massage.
Emily was introduced to the circus arts about 2 years ago through partner acrobatics via AcroYoga. As soon as Circus Culture opened, she signed up for Intro to Aerial and fell in love. She also teaches modern dance at Cornell University, and vinyasa yoga at the Yoga Farm in Lansing. She loves to combine theories and practices from yoga, dance, and circus into the classes she teaches. She’s inspired by the creativity, intelligence, and limitlessness of bodies in motion. Circus is an ever-expanding experience of trust, play and inclusive community.
In 1996 Jonathan learned to juggle from a teacher as a way to take a mental break from academics. Five years later he taught himself how to unicycle as a way to challenge and expand his skills.
Jonathan has a BA in Physical Education from the State University of New York at Cortland. Currently he teaches the Cornell University PE Juggling Class. From when the juggling class was first introduced in 2008, he has developed the curriculum for the class. Jonathan is also a substitute teacher for Ithaca City School District and the Boys' JV Soccer coach for Ithaca High School.
Jonathan is inspired by the ability of his students and how quickly they grow and master new skills. He believes circus is hard work and rewarding. To learn new skills it takes patience, persistence, and sometimes a great deal of effort and time but the rewards can be endless. Growing as a person, inspiring others, engaging physical exercise, and building lasting friendships are just a few of the benefits of circus.
Heather’s first memories of circus are watching Fern Street Circus perform in Balboa Park. Not many years later at age 7 she started participating in that very same circus (Fern Street Circus) after school program in San Diego, California. During her time at Fern Street Circus she learned skills in contortion, trapeze, tumbling, and baton twirling.
Heather has a B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Cortland. Currently she is a teacher aide at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School. Heather got back in to circus when Circus Culture opened in 2015.
Heather is inspired by her students ability to learn new skills and their endless enthusiasm. Circus is a place to acquire new skills, grow, and express oneself as an individual.
(photo by Connor Lange)
Josh taught himself how to juggle his senior year of high school, but it wasn't until college when he met Jonathon Billing his first semester at TC3 that he considered himself a juggler. Jon's motivation and guidance helped to provide the tools he needed to excel and strive as a juggler. For several years Josh took over Jon's role as juggling teacher for Cornell's PE department, until a management opportunity needed his full availability. Several years and job positions later he found myself training at Circus Culture several hours a day and loving every moment of it.
Josh is inspired by the community that exists through Circus Culture. The teachers and students are all incredibly supportive and really instill a sense of true belonging.
Josh believes that circus is a constant exercise in personal growth and creating a better version of yourself. Circus is family. Circus if life.
“For me, movement is life itself. “
Sandy is a youth sport coach who loves to learn as much as she loves to teach. Her love of sports and the sheer joy she finds in movement led her to a BS from Michigan State University in Exercise Science (physical education) and a masters in Biomechanics (with an interest in Motor Learning). She has been coaching recreational and competitive gymnastics with young children for over 30 years in private USAG clubs and is a registered USAG coach with safe sport certification. She holds a USATF level one coaching certification and before returning to Ithaca she was the Wisconsin Track Club distance women’s coach and a middle school cross country coach. While she loves working with young athletes, she has discovered in recent years that she also enjoys mentoring and training new young coaches.
Sandy is inspired by the the expression on the faces of children when they acquire a skill that they have worked hard at. She takes great pleasure in creating an environment where a child feels comfortable taking a chance and trying something new. Where they feel that it is ok not to be perfect. Where there is an atmosphere that is relaxed and understands that we must all make mistakes on the road to mastery of new skills.
Sandy is very excited to be joining the world of circus. She believes that the craft and artistry informing movement in the circus world is beautiful.
Meredith studied gymnastics and dance, growing up in Pennsylvania, and taught gymnastics to kids when she was in high school and college. At Ithaca College, she squeezed in as many dance classes as possible around all the required science courses of the physical therapy program. She has a BS in clinical sciences and MS in physical therapy. She works as a pediatric physical therapist for Racker and also teaches adult ballet classes at the Ballet Center of Ithaca (school of the Ithaca Ballet).
Meredith is inspired by learning and discovery, for herself as well as observing this amazing process in others. Circus is one of the most inclusive, positive, cooperative, and fun experiences in Ithaca
Our 2019 Teachers: Amy Cohen, Avi Baumgold, Steve Kuramoto, Alex Sosebee, Holly Adams, Emily Healy, Jon Billing, Josh Mosier, Heather Scheck, Claire Dehm, Rachel Feirman, Sandy Gregorich, Meredith Conroy.