Welcome to the fourth part of ‘Meet our instructors’ where you can get to know the people who dedicate their time and love to helping you achieve your aerial goals. This month, I spoke with Kathryn – the resident contortion queen who when she isn’t folding herself in half, teaches some of our most popular classes.
Carry on reading to find out more…
When did you first start training in aerial arts?
“I first took a spin on a hoop in 2016, whilst I was in my second year of dance training at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Then as part of another student’s choreography, I was introduced to aerial sling.
During my training, I was also lucky to be able to try aerial bungee assisted dance and vertical wall with Wired Aerial Theatre.”
Which was your first aerial discipline?
Which is your favourite aerial discipline?
“Still hoop! As soon as I started I knew it would be, I was hooked straight away! It is so addictive and was an amazing way of using my dance skills to take to the air!”
Is there a skill you haven’t tried yet but would love to?
“Stupidly I still haven’t tried pole yet so I would love to give that a go, oh and the flying trapeze!”
How long have you been teaching?
“Aerial wise, I have now been teaching for just over a year!”
What classes do you teach?
“In a regular week, I now teach ballet, contemporary, creative contemporary, flexibility, contortion and aerial hoop!”
Which is your favourite class to teach and why?
“This answer will probably change depending on what class I taught last! I always leave a class buzzing and energized by everyone in the room!
Hoop and flexibility really are amazing to teach, to see the goals people achieve and their reaction, as it’s often something they never thought they would ever be able to do! I love it when people surprise themselves and gain so much from the hard work they put in!”
What is your background?
“A quick bio of myself…I grew up in Preston and after training in Ballet and Contemporary; I graduated from Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 2016. Whilst I was there I performed for Leeds Rhinos Rugby Dance Team for two seasons, and as you know began aerial!
After graduating, I gained a place within JV2, a professional touring; second company to Jasmin Vardimon. Since then I have been performing dance, contortion and aerial, and teaching you lovely people!”
What other skills do you have?
“As being a contemporary dancer isn’t one of the easiest of careers, I also have my own art business to help me out! I am a wildlife and pet portrait artist, not an easier career to pick, but doing that and dance/aerial has made me the happiest I have ever been!
Have a look to see the other side of my life…
Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
“Fun fact about me…..hmmm…I was born breach and with both of my feet behind my head and bottom first? Is that a good one?
Oh, and it took a day and a half to get them back down to normal again! As the flexibility teacher that might not be surprising but funnily enough that’s the area I’m not flexible in and since then I have never been able to do that!”
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in aerial for the first time?
“I would say not to underestimate yourself! Everyone I see in their first class is always so surprised by how much they can do! And the improvement in strength and confidence comes so quickly in the air, that’s why it is so addictive!
No matter what body type you have, what age, what gender, what fitness level, whoever you are, you will be great! Oh, and the pain gets better too!”
What do you wish you knew when you were younger (aerial/dance related)?
“Aerial and dance full stop!!
I grew up in Preston and there was nothing like this there, I didn’t know much about it at all and don’t think I knew it even existed until I started the lessons in my second year at dance school! I didn’t even know about contemporary dance schools until I did dance A level at the age of 17.
If I had all this available when I was growing up I would have absolutely loved it, and probably would have trained and wanted to be in the circus! I feel incredibly lucky to be in the world of aerial and dance now, and to have found it eventually!”
How would you describe your teaching style?
“My teaching style I think (and hope!) is fun and energetic.
I try to be approachable, and even though my classes can be quite hard, I hope my casual feel to the class gives everyone room to breathe and relax, and reach their goals and push their limits in their own way that works best for them.
My one and only aim is for everyone to leave whichever class of mine feeling amazing and confident in themselves with what they have achieved.”
Do you have any exciting plans for next year?
“For next year I am going to be busy! That’s my exciting plan.
More contortion performances, more hoop performances, more dance projects, and more galleries! Building your own business takes a long time to build up so next year I shall be 3 years in and I am feeling good about it! Onwards and upwards!”
What’s it like being an identical twin?
“How to answer this in a short answer without going into a rant about life…
Being an identical twin isn’t quite the novelty everyone thinks. To me there is nothing different about it, it’s just like asking anyone what’s it like to have a sister? But the way everyone else acts is what makes it different.
Growing up I was just known as “the blonde twin, Ellen or Kathryn”, which isn’t the best, especially when some of your family don’t have a clue either! But it did mean that I always had someone there. We are similar as we like the same things, and she is a professional dancer too and teaches yoga. We didn’t get on growing up, but I think this was more not liking the twin thing.
After Northern, Ellen lived in Israel for a year and Lebanon for another, and since then we now get along great! I only used the twin thing only once when during auditioning for apprenticeships, Ellen tore her ACL, and as I got cut from the auditions, I did the auditions pretending to be her.
Before you ask, we don’t have twin telepathy, I don’t believe that exists, we don’t wear the same clothes, oh and another stupid question, when I look in the mirror, I know it’s me and not Ellen. Honestly!”
If you fancy getting bendy with Kathryn either up in the air on a hoop or on the floor during stretch class, then you can book your place here.