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 Dugan

Annie Dugan

Exectutive Director

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.

Sandra Olarte

Sandra Olarte

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 Sedmak

Samara Sedmak

Academy Coordinator

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.

Sarah Carlson

Sarah Carlson

Academy Administrator

Hi 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!

Instructors

Sheri Woo

Sheri Woo

Instructor

Sheri was thrilled when she discovered Firefly and the magical combination of artistry and exercise that aerial arts provides. When she’s not teaching, she’s often at the studio, exploring moves and transitions. After a good training session, she likes to indulge in some chocolate.

She has completed teacher training courses through NECCA and has trained with coaches from Drapés Aériens and Paper Doll Militia among others.

As an instructor she’s able to combine two of her favourite passions: teaching and aerial arts. She spends many hours devising plans and exercises for her students and loves to see students gain strength, confidence and skills in the air!

Tara Bergen

Tara Bergen

Instructor

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 Dewar

Erin Dewar

Instructor

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

Michalene Giesbrecht

Instructor

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 Herbert

Tanya Herbert

Instructor

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 Marsan

Joel Marsan

Instructor/Facility Rigger

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 Smith

Carolyn Smith

Instructor

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.

Jason Adams

Jason Adams

Instructor

Jason was a Ukrainian dancer in his youth and has always been excited by moving and discovering new ways to use his body. He found Firefly in 2015, and after a year of taking nearly every class Firefly offers, moved to Vermont for two years to study full time at New England Centre for Circus Arts. He specialized in static trapeze and hand balancing, and found a love of exploring different ways to balance on the ground and on the trapeze, while telling a story through circus. Jason looks forward to sharing with his students to keep their bodies healthy while learning fun, new ways to move and express themselves.

And Furthermore

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8540 - Roper Road
Edmonton, Alberta
T6E 6V4

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