Kendall Knowles, aerialist, head instructor and owner of Central Oregon Aerial Arts (COAA) is quick to point out, “For most of its history, aerial arts has been performance based. There weren’t schools and classes like there are now.”
In aerial, performers climb and twist through long pieces of fabric, creating friction by wrapping and unwrapping their limbs and using the force of their bodyweight for suspension, all while elegantly posing. At the COAA studio, Get a Move On, Knowles offers beginning, intermediate and advanced level instruction, as well as adult and youth classes. COAA maintains a troupe, Aura, which requires audition.
Knowles and Jessica Orf, aerialist and instructor for COAA says, “You’ll execute cool moves in the first lesson, even if you have never been able to do a pull up in your life.” They advise, “Be ready for some circus hurts, nothing major, maybe soreness or bruising.”
Though, the reward is worth it. Typically, within five minutes after a good warm up, students are in their first foot lock a few feet off the ground. In another 15 minutes, students can be practicing the half lotus and superman, all safely with a crash pad and spotters below.
Aura and the COAA have performed at the St. Charles Saints Gala at The Riverhouse, Bend Chamber of Commerce Sage Awards, Recharge Sport’s recent celebration and the Deschutes Brewery’s infamous annual Cyclocross Halloween Extravaganza. Look for upcoming performances at Bend Summer Fest, Surf and Turf at Sunriver July 17, Balloons Over Bend July 23 and the High Desert Classic July 23. Whether teaching or performing, Central Oregon Aerial Arts pride themselves on their commitment to professionalism. They encourage venues seeking aerialists to be critical about the level of safety and experience the performers hired demonstrate and to check that proper insurance is carried.