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.
Copper Santiago is a graduate of the New England Center for Circus Arts. There she studied aerial, focusing on trapeze and droplet (her invented apparatus similar to Lyra) and contortion juggling. Copper also spent a little under a year with Circus Harmony in St. Louis, MO teaching and performing. She has performed internationally and is the recipient of a Pink Flamingo honorable mention from the International Jugglers Association. She also taught flying trapeze for many years at Trapeze School New York and has been in and around circus since she was 13.
She is inspired by the Circus Culture community everyday. The diversity of disciplines represented in classes and commitment to sharing circus as the well rounded art form that it is affects her so much and keeps her growing. Circus is home.
Kevin began his circus career as a freshman in college when his roommate dragged him to the college circus club. He was hooked instantly and hasn't missed a practice since. He went on to lead the club as one of its co-presidents. He studied music at Ithaca College where his major instrument was classical guitar. Kevin is partially self instructed in circus, but has been lucky enough to be surrounded by an incredibly knowledgable and supportive community that have helped him improve and grow, particularly over the past two years with the founding of Circus Culture.
He is inspired by the people who are willing to push themselves and their peers to think about and make new things. From the moment he stepped into the circus world there has been a healthy distrust of surfaces that aims to question the practices and purpose of the art form to continue to further and better it. Circus is how we embrace our limitations.
Jessica discovered aerials as an undergraduate at Oberlin College, and quickly fell in love with both the art form and the community around it. When she's not doing school-related work, you can usually find her training or teaching at Circus Culture.
Jessica specializes in rope, but she occasionally dabbles in silks. Here at Circus Culture, she teaches an aerial technique class for rope and silks, as well as an aerial conditioning class.
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.
Jen began learning circus arts in middle school, as part of a curricular program at the Pine Hill Waldorf School. After overcoming the initial hurdle of learning to juggle she quickly fell in love with circus, performing with the Flying Gravity Circus and Circus Smirkus and coaching at the Silver Lining Circus Camp throughout her teenage years. These experiences led to an interest in understanding what makes circus such a special place for youth to thrive. While pursuing her B.A. in Psychology from Macalester College, her M.A. and Ph.D. in Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University, and her certification in Spacial Dynamics, Jen continued to juggle, direct circus camps and youth productions, and present at American Youth Circus Organization and American Circus Educators conferences.
Now serving as the Assistant Director of the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE) at Cornell University, Jen is grateful for the opportunity to continue teaching and learning at Circus Culture. She is continually inspired by the dedication of her fellow teachers and students who are willing to explore the limits of what might be possible and contribute to this community called circus.
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.
Our 2017 Teachers: Kevin Flanagan, Avi Baumgold, Steve Kuramoto, Alex Sosebee, Copper Santiago, Holly Adams, Emily Healy, Jessica Lam, Jon Billing, Sam Boyles, Jen Agans, Claire Dehm, and Amy Cohen.