Sky Gym aerial dance trainers are highly qualified instructors who have completed our Aerial Certification Program involving hundreds of hours of specialized training. Sky Gym is working with AYCO to establish national standards for aerial teachers and with the Atlanta Aerial Alliance to promote minimum safety and training standards for aerial teachers. Please note that Sky Gym does not currently offer a public aerial teacher certification, so ONLY teachers listed on our website are Sky Gym certified aerial trainers.
(Level 5 Trainer)
Amber Monson is the founder and owner of Sky Gym. She has performed all over the world and trained with the top aerialists in the country, including former Cirque du Soleil artists. Her background in ballet and rock climbing prepared her for her journey into aerial work. In 2006 she watched a performance by off-duty Cirque du Soleil aerialists at a rave in NYC.
“I got chills the first time I saw an aerial fabric act. It was one of those moments of clarity, where I knew that someday it would be a huge part of my life.
I love the mystique of fabric. To me it represents the essence of a strong woman; the flowing forms made by the fabric symbolize grace and beauty, the incredible tensile strength of the material symbolizes strength of will, and the dramatic height represents courage and focus.”
Amber grew up with artists for parents, and has always been drawn to a creative lifestyle, yet she graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Product Design. After a few years in the work-force she decided to risk her day-job in exchange for pursuing what she really loved. Amber is dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle of nutrition, exercise, and exploration.
“I can’t decide which is more fulfilling to me, performing aerial or teaching it. I love coming up with incredible new performances and challenges, and being able to inspire my audience to go pursue their own passion. But I also love the smile of a student who just realized that they are stronger and more skilled than they gave themselves credit for. I am incredibly grateful to my students and my trainers for allowing me to make aerial dance my life.”
(Level 5 Trainer)
“My love for climbing anything and everything keeps me grounded.”
Kara Freeman was born a tree climber, matured into a professional rock climber, and is now flying through the air! Kara is a free spirit who has taken her natural talent, lack of fear, and perhaps a few loose screws into the creative side of pushing the envelope. With her adventurous side leading the way, she is constantly seeking the next adventure for aerial arts. From hanging silks from trees and cliffs in the South East, to swinging over the turquoise ocean of the Bahamas, and then venturing underground into caverns and caves of the Yucatan Peninsula, she accepts any backdrop for her art!
Kara’s students love to learn and laugh with her while taking their aerial skills to new heights. She teaches and shares with all that “being physically fit should be a result of your lifestyle, not a chore.” Her ripped abs and shoulders are a testament to the intensity of her classes; she doesn’t accept anything less than her student’s best.
(Level 5 Trainer)
Marilyn Chen was born an artist. Her creative search lead her to SCAD where she earned a degree in fine arts painting, photography and conceptual arts. Her study of dance began 15 years ago with Yoga, broadening into 8 years of Pole Fitness. Watching Marilyn in the air is like watching a brilliant storm brewing, electrifying the atmosphere with distant rumbles of anticipation. She can be still and quiet or fast and fluid, but always walking the edge of madness with her darkly poetic pieces.
“Aerial arts have been one of the most challenging and transformative disciplines I’ve ever studied, both mentally and physically. When I am upside down, twisting and turning within the silks, I can forget my ego, forget my past, forget anything that might drag me down. Having had problems with addiction in the past , I have found that my love for anything aerial has helped me to heal. When I move upwards, I leave behind all my doubts, all my fears, and anything that I don’t need to move forward. I find myself in a place of being present and being grateful to have such an exciting and exhilarating experience. I feel lucky to be surrounded by such talented, passionate, and compassionate people. ”
Marilyn likes to explore movement on different apparatuses and enjoys the challenge of pushing her body in exciting and creative new ways. Her performances can be soft and inviting or dangerous and exotic. She is excited to teach, but more excited to learn.
(Level 5 Trainer)
Melissa began her aerial training in 2006 at Canopy Studios in Athens, GA with Susan Murphy. She was heavily involved in art, music, and design her whole life, but had not explored movement art. She began her path with some yoga classes and dance classes for a couple years and then found trapeze classes. Aerial dance was so captivating to her that she drove out of town faithfully every weekend to take trapeze classes despite not being able to get her feet to the bar at first, a latent fear of heights, and a few years prior could not touch her own toes. When aerial studios finally opened in Atlanta, she took classes several times a week from Liana Repass of Entanglement, Carrie Heller and Kasumi Kato at Circus Arts Institute, and Nicole Merman of The Dair Project.
Over the years, Melissa picked up silks and lyra and partnering on silks, trapeze, and lyra, and then began to invent her own apparatuses. She continues to augment her instruction by traveling to certain people and schools in Las Vegas, California, and the Caribbean to seek training from a variety of sources. For the past 2½ years she has been developing a DVD that teaches basic trapeze vocabulary which will soon be published. She is also a Co-Founder of Kinetic Hive – a cross-pollination studio for movement arts based in Atlanta, GA.
Melissa’s Circus and performance skills range from aerial dance and partnering in the air, to target cutting with bullwhips, fire performance, partner acro balance, prop dancing, stilts, and fan dancing. Her performances are fun and quirky, dramatic and sexy, and glamorous. She loves to instruct, choreograph, and create characters with her students while watching them develop and grow into their abilities.
(Level 5 Trainer)
Aerialist, actor, and dancer Rain Anya holds a degree in “Performance for Social Change.” She has trained extensively in aerial and physical theatre, including immersive programs such as Circomedia (Bristol, UK), NECCA (Brattleboro, VT), and Circle in the Square (NYC, NY).
Rain’s aerial career began with the political circus company Wise Fool New Mexico. Out of inspired collaborations there, the seeds for the Aerial Theatre company Paper Doll Militia were sown. With over 20 years of experience on stage, Rain’s life’s work is the integration of circus arts with other performance and movement disciplines.
Most recent credits include: BALD; Beyond the Veil (San Francisco); London-based Peter Pan, (US tour), This Twisted Tale(U.S. Tour and Edinburgh Fringe Festival).
Rain is also a passionate aerial arts and yoga instructor. She has taught classes, specialty workshops, and private lessons at over 20 different facilities across the US and the UK.
(Level 5 Trainer)
Sadie Hawkins Upchurch is a burlesque aerialist and fire performer based in Atlanta, Ga.
She began participating in Atlanta’s burlesque scene in 2004, with Doll Squad. In 2006, Sadie co-founded Blast-Off Burlesque. Known for quirky, performance art-style acts, the group has now grown to include over a dozen regular collaborators. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Blast-Off Burlesque was voted Best Burlesque Troupe in Creative Loafing’s annual Best of Atlanta survey. In 2010, Atlanta Magazine named the group Atlanta’s Best Burlesque troupe. She also performs with Hot Toddies Cabaret, working with the fire and cabaret group since 2009.
Sadie began teaching lyra (aerial hoop) in 2009. In addition to lyra, she regularly works on aerial net, silk sling, aerial rope, still rings, trapeze, chains, and a variety of improvised apparatus. She began working with fire in 2010. Her aerial and fire performance is charged with a burlesque sensibility, often fusing them into performance art.
If you are taking classes from a teacher who claims to have had teacher training with Sky Gym and they are not listed above, please call our studio at (404) 309-9696 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . The information you provide to us will be kept confidential. We thank you for making a safer and more ethical community for aerialists to thrive.