Instructor Bios

Stacey Strange (Owner, Founder, Creative Director):

Stacey Strange is a multidisciplinary circus, visual, and musical artist. She often combines art forms to create transportive entertainment rooted in meaningful storytelling. Her creations include circus short films, touring productions, and the occasional novel. Her work has been called ‘As smart as it was entertaining—and it was very entertaining indeed.’ (The New Haven Independent)

A dedicated coach with over a decade of experience, she has taught myriad circus arts to hundreds of students internationally and across the continental United States and Alaska. In 2018 she founded an aerial fabric teacher training program and expanded on the success of that program with a bar apparatus training in 2022. As a coach, her mission is to build a sturdy foundation on great technique with an understanding of theory so that her students can unlock their ability to innovate authentically, safely, and creatively.

Her students have gone on to perform with the 7Fingers, AIDA Cruises, at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and multiple Vegas shows; as well as completed professional training programs including the New England Center for Circus Arts’ ProTrack Program, and Aloft’s Professional Training Program.

Most recently she won a silver medal for her performance at the Hubei Chutian Star Guzheng Competition in China, which sees thousands of competitors. She has been featured on the national PBS show START-UP, had her photography published in the New York Times, and has the most expressive feet one YouTube commenter has ever seen.

She originally completed Nimble Arts’ Fabric Teacher Training in 2011, and completed straps teacher training with Aaron Koz in 2020.

Learn more about her at

Teaching Specialties: Aerial silks, Corde Lisse, Aerial Straps, Juggling

Dani Bobbi Lee (Owner, Executive Director):

It all started with a hula hoop! In 2009, this was Dani’s portal into the circus. Since then she has studied and taught a variety of circus arts, including aerials.

She began teaching with Air Temple Arts in 2018 after attending Aerial Silks Teacher Training with Paper Doll Militia. She continued with Born to Fly’s aerial teacher certificate. Dani continues to further her aerial and circus education with workshops, trainings, and supporting Patreon artists.

Her philosophy in circus (and life) is to never stop learning. Dani believes that movement is a holistic approach to freedom. She advocates that circus is a meditation, and can bring boundless opportunities to our lives. In her experience, the art of play and circus have helped her find community and love for herself and others.

She graduated from the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy in 2010, and applies her knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology to her teaching. She has a background in tap dance, drama, cheerleading, and tree climbing.

Teaching Specialities: Aerial silks, Youth Circus, Corde Lisse

Nicholas Strange (Owner, Technical Director):

Nick has been involved in circus arts of one kind or another for over a decade. He started riding unicycles as a way to cross train for freestyle skiing in high school, but was soon addicted to riding on one wheel just for the fun of it. Since then he has taken up juggling and prop manipulation, partner acrobatics, hoop diving, and Chinese pole as major areas of interest.

In addition to those traditional circus arts, Nick is an accomplished fire and sideshow performer. From 2009 – 2013 he was the head of Safety for Wildfire, a fire arts retreat. He studies Chinese pole at the New England Center for Circus Arts.

His past performance highlights include juggling alongside Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band, repeating (on location) a suspended straight jacket escape first performed by Harry Houdini, and entertaining audiences between sets at the World/Inferno Friendship Society’s annual Halloween shows, performing as one half of the circus duo Soviet Bloc Party, and performing in the full length shows Missed Connections, and SPECIAL RELATIVITY. In 2017 he went on tour with Circularity’s production of Sherlock Holmes and the Sapphire Night as one of the lead roles, and performed a partner acrobatics duet, hoop diving, and a solo on Chinese pole.

When not teaching or performing, Nick is putting his Mechanical Engineering expertise to good use as Air Temple’s resident rigger. He has been responsible for designing, building, and maintaining all of the points at all studio locations. In addition to studio work, Nick heads up rigging for Air Temple performances and is available for freelance rigging design.

Teaching Specialties: Chinese Pole, Juggling

Kate Gonzales:

Kate was climbing on curtains and people before she could walk, and baton twirled and danced her way through childhood and college. So when she saw an amazing circus show in 2013, and was approached outside the theater by a certain studio owner asking if she wanted to try circus, she said ‘Yes, Please!’

Since then, Kate has trained in a variety of aerial disciplines, specializing in aerial hoop, aerial sling, and aerial fabric. She has been found performing as a sad clown, an evil minion, a sky witch, and even his purple-ness, Prince. She was the stage manager for the touring productions, Sherlock Holmes and the Sapphire Night, and LOOM.

She loves helping guide others into the aerial world, and completed teacher training in 2018.

She is the head coach for Air Temple’s Aerial Hoop and Aerial Sling programs.

Teaching Specialties: Aerial Hoop, Aerial Sling, Aerial Silks

Jillian Marchenko:

Jillian grew up dancing, beginning at age three. For the majority of the the next two decades she studied everything from classical ballet, to tap, jazz, and modern dance. She received professional training at the School of Performing Arts (now FineLine Theater Arts), until 2007. She continued dancing in college, majoring in Modern Dance, and graduating in 2011 with a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

In 2014, she came across Air Temple, and began training in aerial silks. In 2016 she began performing with Air Temple and has been doing so ever since, with lead roles in Sherlock Holmes and the Sapphire Night, and LOOM.

During her time at UArts she discovered her passion for teaching. As full time licensed Massage Therapist, she has been teaching massage therapy for six years. Nothing compares however, to sharing her passion for aerial arts. She began teaching with Air Temple in 2018 after completing teacher training.

Teaching Specialties: Hand Balancing

Crystal Cassetori:

Crystal has a varied athletic and performance background, beginning with ballet, tap, and theater classes from elementary through high school. In college, she competed in NCAA equestrian sports. As an adult, she found roller derby and skated competitively for almost a decade. It was during this time that she discovered her love of teaching and became part of the coaching and training staff with Connecticut Roller Derby. 

Her aerial adventures began when she decided to try an aerial silks class at Air Temple Arts in 2018 and never looked back! Crystal enjoys trying any apparatus she can get her hands on, but focuses mostly on aerial hoop and aerial sling. She has performed at various open stage shows at Air Temple, competed in Pole Sport Organization’s 2020 Virgo event, and was a cast member in Air Temple’s 2020 production, Time After Time

Crystal completed teacher training at Air Temple Arts in 2020 and achieved her CirqFit Lyra teacher certification that same year. She plans to continue her aerial education with additional trainings and workshops and by supporting artists on Patreon! 

Teaching Specialties: Aerial Hoop, Aerial Sling, Acro Chair

Jen Miller:

Jen is a veteran homeschool mom of six. She brings years of experience creatively teaching students of all ages! Jen’s artistic dance experience started with tumbling and modern dance in childhood. Physical training in the last 10 years has included trail running and participation in Ultra Marathons. 

The world of circus opened up for Jen at the beginning of 2018 when she started aerial classes. Training apparatus include silks, lyra, straps, corde lisse and sling. Additional training and conditioning background include yoga, active flexibility and other conditioning knowledges. Jen has also completed Air Temple Art’s Teacher Training seminar. Ongoing skill enhancement is pursued through various workshops and training sessions. The aerial arts offer endless challenges in strength, creativity and perseverance and Jen finds it so rewarding to empower others to reach for the sky.  

When she’s not in the air, Jen can be found teaching youth educational classes at Bethel’s Sunflower Studio and hanging out at home with her family.  

Teaching Specialties: Aerial Silks, Lyra, Youth Circus

Holly Gilligan:

Holly began ballet and tap at the age of 3, and still takes tap classes today, occasionally performing. Around the same young age, she began joining sports teams of all kinds, continuing through 4 years of collegiate swimming. She came across Air Temple Arts in 2015 while Googling for tap classes after moving to New Haven. She decided to try out a silks class, and finding aerials to be the perfect combination of both athletics and dance, she counts that as one of her most life changing decisions so far. 

Holly has dabbled in a variety of aerial and circus arts over the past 6 years, performed in 5 Air Temple productions, and currently trains in Chinese pole, aerial sling, rope, and hand balancing. Chinese pole remains her specialty, with 2 years of additional training from New England Center for Circus Arts under her belt as well. 

Holly first entered the teaching world after college, coaching youth swimming. Presently, she is a full time clinical dietitian, where she regularly spends time teaching interns. She is passionate about helping others advance their knowledge, and most importantly find joy in what they’re doing. Holly completed her aerial teacher training in 2021.

Teaching Specialties: Chinese Pole

Jessa Audet:

After a lifelong love for the circus, Jessa began her journey with aerials in 2015 at Aircraft Aerial Arts in Somerville, MA. As her passions for the aerial arts grew, she expanded her training and began to focus on performance opportunities.

In 2017, she moved to Colorado where she enrolled at Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Studio in Boulder. The school’s heavy focus on performance based choreography helped to develop her confidence and artistry and provided the opportunity to add many traditional and invented apparatuses to her repertoire. Jessa graduated from the Frequent Flyers Intensive Training program in 2019, which solidified her foundation as a multi-faceted aerialist/choreographer, and provided her with numerous performance experiences. 

Jessa completed teacher training in January 2021 and is certified in lyra and silks through the Born To Fly™ Aerial Teacher Training program, but loves working on sling, trapeze, and just about any invented apparatus she can get her hands on. As a self-proclaimed aerial theory nerd, Jessa is always eager to learn more! She sought to turn her love of sharing skills and techniques with others into an aerial teaching career and continues to perform, take classes, and share her depth of knowledge with aerial students whenever she can. 

Teaching Specialties: Aerial Silks, Aerial Sling, Dance Trapeze, Youth Circus

Julian Salevan:

Julian Salevan (they/them) has been an avid performer since they were a three-year-old tiptoeing through dance classes. They studied classical ballet and modern dance for the first half of their life, acted in their high school theatre productions, led their college’s Rocky Horror cast, and sang in choirs through college and grad school (even while studying physics and engineering for their PhD!).

A dabbler in athletics as well as arts, Julian has tried their hand at everything from distance running to powerlifting. They took their first aerial hoop class at Air Temple in 2019 – since then, they’ve tried nearly every other apparatus in the studio. After years of personal flexibility practice in service of dance and aerial, Julian also began training in contortion in early 2021, taking advantage of the explosion of online courses to train with instructors across the continent. With Air Temple, they’ve joined the casts of Heaven or California and Air Temple Takes New Haven, and they performed in their first (but not their last!) open stage show in autumn 2021.

Julian began teaching after completing Air Temple’s teacher training in 2021. They completed the SOAR Comprehensive Aerial Hoop Teacher Training program in September 2022, and they continue to pursue continuing education. They’re a total nerd when it comes to flexibility and movement arts, and they especially love to help students figure out how to work with their bodies rather than against them.

Teaching Specialties: Flexibility, Lyra

Brianna Thompson:

Bri is an aerial and ground performer specializing in multicorde, rope, and cyr wheel.

Spending her young adult years pursuing science and research, she now finds joy in re-realizing her childlike creativity and need for movement. Bri draws from her previous experience in dance, cheerleading, and obstacle course training to soar as a circus performer. She enjoys sharing her strength and art with the world and experimenting with story telling.

Bri discovered circus in 2018, focusing on aerial hoop, and entered the ProTrack program at the New England Center for Circus Arts in 2020, with a major in multicorde and a minor in cyr wheel.

She completed lyra teacher training in 2022.

Teaching Specialties: Lyra, Corde Lisse

Sierra Bachman:

Sierra Bachman started her aerial journey at Air Temple Arts in June of 2020. Being inspired by a professional circus performance, she dared to immerse herself into the world of circus, never looking back. She fell in love with silks, but has also explored lyra, sling, Chinese pole and corde lisse.

She loves how circus sparks feelings of independence and personal accomplishment. It satisfies her love of learning while expanding her horizons. She’s always up for a challenge and seeing just how far she can go!

She began teaching at Air Temple Arts in 2022 and couldn’t be more honored! She loves how students inspire her with their own enthusiasm and hard work. She aspires to help others on their individual journeys and have fun along the way.

Teaching Specialties: Aerial Silks, Youth Circus

Liz Richards

Liz Richards began her aerial journey at Air Temple in 2019, trying many different apparatus before embracing trapeze as her primary discipline.

Prior to beginning aerial training Liz graduated from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2014 with a BFA in Acting, where she specialized in movement theater and devised work. She is also a dedicated juggler, and continues to train in a variety of aerial and ground circus arts. Liz completed Bar Apparatus Teacher Training and shadowing at Air Temple in 2022.

In July 2021, Liz directed her first feature show, an ode to the Donner Party, Heaven or California, which premiered to critical acclaim.

Teaching Specialties: Trapeze

Heather Cummings

Heather has been in love with performance and athletics since she started ballet and tap classes at 2 years old. This led her to join various dance, music, and theater groups from elementary school through college where she competed in many styles of Ballroom Dancing. She came across air temple arts in 2021 when looking for a local dance studio after moving to Connecticut, and decided to try an Aerial Hoop class. One class was all it took for Heather to fall in love with circus arts!

Heather focuses on Aerial Hoop and Dance Trapeze, but is always looking to try any and all apparatus that she can find. She also enjoys Juggling and Hoop Manipulation and hopes to incorporate these skills into future acts. She has performed at various open stage shows and was a cast member in the 2023 show, Pool Party.

Heather completed Bar Apparatus Teacher Training at Air Temple in 2022 and began teaching Aerial Hoop in 2023. She is always looking to add to her skills and experience through various workshops offered at Air Temple and intensives at NECCA, and hopes to share her knowledge to help others find joy and passion in their circus journeys.

Liz Cowell (CFO):

Liz prides herself on keeping her persona as much of a mystery as possible. However, she has studied opera and vibrato at Alfred University, performed as a fire eater, and graduated from Post University with a dual bachelor degree in Human Services and Criminal Justice.

She began silks classes in 2013, and began teaching Corde Lisse in 2016. She performed Corde Lisse in Reverie in Black and White, and group acrobatics in Sherlock Holmes and the Sapphire Night. She receives ongoing rope education at NECCA.

Teaching Specialties: Corde Lisse