About the Academy
Welcome to Firefly Circus Academy
See how high you can Fly! Experience the thrill of learning acrobatic and aerial skills while improving fitness, strength, and flexibility. Our students learn to achieve their maximum potential while experiencing high quality instruction in a safe, supportive and creative environment. While circus is a rigourous, muscle building workout, it is also an art form. Come climb and create your personal story at Edmonton’s award-winning circus arts studio. Turn your life upside down at the Firefly Circus Academy, Alberta’s pioneer Aerial Arts Program.
Firefly has been teaching community members how to fly since 2004. We offer recreational classes in aerial silks (tissue), aerial hoop (or Lyra), rope (corde lisse), straps and trapeze. In addition to aerial arts, we have aerial conditioning, handstands and acrobalance, contortion and extreme stretching, and aerial yoga. Though our program is adult-based, there are a few special classes for kids between the ages of 9-16.
Our instructors are dedicated to consistent, professional development; Firefly instructors have trained with some of the top aerialists and coaches in the world today. We regularly bring the best of the best to Edmonton, in order to learn and then share with our students. The Firefly Circus Academy is dedicated to teaching you with the absolute highest technical, safety and artistic standards.
Circus Academy Leaders
Annie is the founder and Executive Director of the Firefly Circus Academy, currently in its 14 year of teaching people to fly. She has completed and contributed to the curriculum in teacher training courses across Canada and North America. Having taught basic aerial skills for many years, Annie also enjoys teaching Firefly Theatre’s signature fusion, Aerial Theatre. As a pioneer and practitioner of the form, she enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge through workshops that transform aerialists into storytellers.
Annie has 30 years of circus experience, commencing with the Big Apple Circus in 1987. Edmonton’s award-winning Firefly Theatre, under the direction of Ms. Dugan, continues to be at the forefront of the development of Circus-Theatre, and remains one of the only companies in Western Canada to work in this genre. Their productions contribute to the evolution of circus-theatre, which is growing in popularity around the world.
Head of Verticals
Sandra Olarte discovered aerial arts through Firefly and immediately fell in love with everything circus! She was invited to join the teaching team in 2013, and became head coach of the vertical department in 2017.
She is a graduate of the École Nationale de Cirque’s Instructor in Circus Arts program, working under the supervision of Annie Dugan & Sylvain Rainville; has completed numerous workshops & teacher training courses all over Canada, USA, Latin America, and Europe; and has trained with professional coaches from ENC, NECCA, Cie. Drapés Aériens, and Paper Doll Militia, among many others.
As an instructor, Sandra wants her students to develop a solid technique and a deep understanding of aerial movement so they can find their own safe way to shine in the air. Her personal tenets being to never stop learning, to always keep an open mind, and to base her teaching on well-grounded knowledge.
Samara started training with Firefly in 2008 and with a few breaks off and on for different adventures traveling around the world she has happily found herself back at Firefly teaching Silks and Rope. Samara is an actor/ stunt performer, and a musician. She loves the way circus combines her love of being physical with the opportunity for such creative expression. Samara has worked as a personal trainer, and is currently finishing her yoga teacher training.
Academy AdministratorHi I’m Sarah and I have been a part of the Firefly Circus Academy family for two years now as the Aerial Arts Administrator. My favourite part of my day is when I get an email from a new student after their first class and they tell me how much they love aerials and are hooked. I love to see our students perform in class and at our annual show, it’s amazing to see how far students come each year and how supportive they are of each other. I am not a trained aerialist and am quite inflexible, but you can find me in the Aerial Fitness & Conditioning class. Trust me if I can do it, so can you!
Sheri was thrilled when she discovered Firefly! For her, aerial arts provides a magical combination of artistry, expression, exploration and exercise. Being an instructor allows her to combine two of her passions: teaching and aerial arts. She loves to see new students experience the thrill of aerial silks, vertical rope and trapeze! All this exercise justifies indulgence in her third passion: chocolate!
Tara began training at Firefly and discovered her love of the aerial arts after graduating from MacEwan University for Theatre Arts back in 2014. She immediately fell in love with this challenging art form that combined her loves of fitness and performing. She currently divides her training time between trapeze, hoop, rope, and her personal favourite, silks.
Erin is a fitness junkie. When she isn’t at Firefly she can be found at yoga, the barre studio or paddling down the North Saskatchewan River. She is an avid runner, many of her vacations are to attend races in cities across North America. She has been training with Firefly since 2008 after being invited by a good friend; that first class turned into a great love for the aerials silks. She now looks forward to spreading that love of this unique sport to new students and is very excited to join the instructor team for 2018.
Michalene Giesbrecht came to Firefly Theatre in 2005 as a dancer and a high school science teacher, and fell in love with the trapeze. She is now a stay at home mother with her two daughters and has been coaching aerials with Firefly since 2009.
Tanya has been involved in the circus arts since starting with Firefly in 2010. After moving to Toronto in 2013, she had the opportunity to coach kids and adults full-time for two years. In Toronto, Tanya performed in 9 full-length ensemble shows as well as several duo-trapeze acts for festivals, showcases, and parties. Since moving back to Edmonton in 2016, Tanya has been coaching with Firefly and has taken up powerlifting to supplement and balance her training.
Joel has been coming to Firefly since 2012 after returning to Alberta. His introduction to aerial arts began while he lived in the U.S. in 2003, helping at a community circus arts program for troubled youth. For someone who once weighed over 240 lbs, this was his game changer. Here at Firefly, Joel continues to focus on silks, trapeze, and aerial net while also enjoying the challenges and artistic opportunities other aerial equipment has to offer. And recently, he is enjoying the opportunity to help new students begin their own aerial journey.
Carolyn has always been keen to try different forms of physical activity. Growing up as a competitive diver, she knew that aerial arts would give her a similar thrill and challenge she was looking for. Carolyn started as a student at Firefly in 2014 and instantly fell in LOVE! You can usually find her hanging out on the trapeze or up in the silks. As a Certified Personal Trainer, Carolyn loves helping others explore new and fun ways to exercise.
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