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Michelle has always loved teaching, health, and movement. She spent many years as a professor of pharmacy at Wingate University and as a yoga instructor. Her aerial journey began in 2010 when one of her yoga students challenged her to try aerial silks. She was instantly hooked! Aerial silks combined everything she loved about yoga, but added creativity, dance, and a sense of empowerment like nothing she had ever felt. She immediately began training with the Charlotte Cirque & Dance Center and later, with Aerial CLT. In 2015, Michelle's family moved to Elon when her husband got a job teaching at Elon University. But there was no aerial to be found. She simply couldn't imagine her life without it! So she completed her aerial silks teaching training under Amy Tynan Chirico of Aerial CLT and began teaching a small group of students in Elon. She expected to enjoy it because she's always loved teaching, but she was unprepared for just how wonderful and fulfilling it was. As her aerial program began to grow, she decided to let go of her career as a PharmD and follow her newfound passion for aerial teaching. In 2018, Michelle opened Upside Aerial Arts & Fitness. Building a community centered around this beautiful but challenging art form has been one of the most rewarding experiences of Michelle's life.
*Photo Credit: Lydia Willig Photography
Owner, Aerial Silks Instructor
Alison is a North Carolina based dancer and aerialist, specializing in contemporary dance and single point trapeze. A Georgia native, Alison began dancing at the age of 12 and went on to pursue a degree in Dance from The University of Georgia. Upon graduation with a dual degree in Dance (A.B) and Child and Family Development (B.S.), she began dancing professionally in the greater Atlanta area. Alison relocated to NC in 2013 and performed with Martha Connerton’s Kinetic Works, 4thrightdance, and Caroline Calouche & Co (CC&Co). Alison began her trapeze training in Athens, GA at Canopy Studio, but obtained the majority of her training from her time spent as a main company dancer at CC&Co. She has since expanded her skillset to include aerial sling, silks, duo trapeze, and partner acrobatics. Alison teaches dance and aerial arts and has taught at the Charlotte Dance Festival, Carolina Aerial and Dance Exchange (CADE), and Charlotte Cirque and Dance Center. Alison is also a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Master of Public Health. She ultimately wants to combine her public health knowledge and passion for both health and the arts to work in arts integrated public health outreach programming. Alison recently relocated to the Greensboro area and is excited to be part of the Upside family!
*Photo Courtesy of Caroline Calouche & Co., Rouge 2018
Aerial Silks and Trapeze Instructor
Alexander Imán is a performing artist and coach in the field of contemporary circus arts. Specializing in handbalancing, flexibility, acrobatics, and aerial arts, Alex has worked and trained with a broad range of choreographers, coaches, and sports medicine professionals, including choreographers from MGM Studios and Paramount Pictures, Olympic physiologists, handbalancers and contortionists from Cirque du Soleil, and more. Alex's classes are rooted in applied anatomy and physiology and help students understand not only how to train most efficiently for their goals, but also how to understand the body on a deeper level in order to move in more informed, rewarding, and sustainable ways all across the board. Alex feels most passionate about promoting movement as a powerful tool for healing, growth, playfulness, creativity, and self-expression, and seeks to create inclusive & loving spaces for circus and movement arts where all are welcome, regardless of age, experience, ethnicity, skill level, size, gender identity, sexual orientation, or background.
Ground Circus Arts & Aerial Arts Instructor
Ashanti took her first aerial silks class with Michelle Spurlock in December 2017 after receiving a class pass as a gift. She immediately fell in love with the beauty and challenges of the dance form and has wanted to be on the fabric ever since. Ashanti enjoys movement of all forms and began delving into the world of dance in 2008. She immersed herself in belly dance, hoop, ballet, pole dance, burlesque and any other dance form she could fit into her schedule. Combining her love of helping others, health and movement, she became a personal trainer and pole dance instructor in 2015. Ashanti can often be heard cheering on her Upside Aerial students, friends and colleagues in everything they do. She is ridiculously excited to be part of the phenomenal Upside Aerial instructor family!
*Photo Credit: Luck Photography
Aerial Silks Instructor
In 2011, Christine discovered aerial arts and fell in love right before her 43rd birthday. She loves that aerial arts can be done at any level and challenges both the beginner as well as the most advanced student. Christine found it a fun way to gain strength and flexibility without it feeling like working out. There is always a new challenge to work toward in aerial arts! In 2014, Christine completed both Introduction to Teaching Aerials and Aerial Fabric Foundation Level Teacher Training at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, VT. In 2016, Christine completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training through Life Power Yoga in NC, and in April 2016, she began teaching aerial yoga. She began teaching the performing art of aerial silks at Upside Aerial Arts & Fitness in 2018.
"Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly."
"Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." -Kobi Yamada
*Photo Credit: Lydia Willig Photography
Aerial Silks Instructor
Katie began teaching in 2009 as a public high school teacher in North Carolina in theater and technical theater. She then expanded her teaching repertoire to include adult and youth aerial silks, trapeze, aerial hoop, and basic circus ground skills (juggling, partner acrobatics, clowning, etc). Her formal training includes completing the Aloft Circus Arts Full Time Training program in 2014 in Chicago, where she majored in her original apparatus, rope ladder, while minoring in stilt dancing. She has performed in festivals in both Europe and the US on aerial silks, duo trapeze, rope ladder, and aerial hoop. Katie is also the co- artistic director of StoryUp!, a Durham-based children's aerial storytelling company. Check out StoryUp! here. Katie believes that everyone has the strength and ability to succeed in all movement-based arts. She enjoys helping confidence grow in her students and celebrating their strengths and abilities.