Who We Are

We are a collection of educators, artists, athletes and circus performers who are totally dedicated to creating the best educational space available!

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Katherine Tesch - Director, Youth Circus, Aerial Acrobatics, Balance

Katherine began her career as a dancer and joined the circus in 2006, spending the next 10 years as a circus performer.  During this time she also began developing her circus and dance education program. She has had the great opportunity to perform and train with a wide variety of companies all over the world giving her a well rounded and strong base to create the curriculum and program that The Circus Academy of Tucson uses. Some highlights are that she has trained and done workshops with Circo Picolino in Brazil, The New England Center for Circus Arts, Pilobolus, Streb and Air Dance Moscow. She is an active member of the American Circus Educators. Her favorite thing about teaching circus is watching children learn that through hard work and dedication the impossible becomes possible! 

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Annie Mielke - Aerial Acrobatics

Annie Mielke is an aerial dancer and circus artist with 15 years of aerial training and performance experience. She began performing at a young age with nationally recognized youth circus program Circus Juventas in St. Paul, Minnesota. She began teaching alongside Katherine in 2012 and helped found The Circus Academy of Tucson after graduating with a Business Degree in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from the University of Arizona. Recently, she spent two years in Austin, Texas, working with aerial dance company Blue Lapis Light. Her love of circus stems from the mix of creative expression and athleticism it involves, and she loves sharing these aspects of her art with her students!

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Tran Thai- Handstands, Contortion, Stretching, Conditioning, Aerial

Tran specializes in handstands, contortion, and aerial silks. She has taken her training in handstands and contortion (with coaching from Micah Walters and Catie Brier) and used it to develop our Contortion and Handstand program. Before joining us in 2013, Tran participated in competitive color guard throughout high school and college with The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps as well as Fantasia Winterguard. She spent 6 years coaching various color guard groups at Catalina Foothills HS, Rincon-University HS, Ironwood Ridge HS, and Canyon del Oro HS, as well as the University of Arizona 2014 Winter Guard. Outside of circus, Tran has a Bachelor’s in Music Education, Instrumental Emphasis from the University of Arizona and has been teaching elementary school music in Marana for the past 5 years.

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Olivia Rivera - Theater and Youth Education

Hailing from Kodiak, Alaska Olivia Rivera will graduate the University of Arizona with a degree in theater and music in spring 2019. Olivia has been involved in theater throughout her life. She has attended the Sitka Fine Arts Camp middle and high school programs, as well as their musical theatre intensive for a decade before beginning college. While still passionate for theatre and music Olivia found her creative passion through circus arts. A teacher and performer, Olivia focuses on training contortion and silks but has also trained trapeze, lyra, sling, stilts, juggling and partner acrobatics. Post-graduation Olivia intends on continuing her circus training and teaching while hoping to create new pieces of works and inspire children to create original and theatrical circus pieces.

Talia Troyo - Tumbling

Talia was a competitive gymnast though out her childhood and teenage years. She is currently a speech therapist, competitive ultimate frisbee player and silks student. Her excellent base in tumbling will allow her to take our advanced students tumbling skills to the next level!

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Jacob Stockton - Juggling, Props, Balance

Jacob has been juggling for six years, and has experience with a wide variety of props including balls, clubs, rings, torches, knives, devilsticks, diabolo, and poi. He also does contact juggling, and is always looking for new props to add to his repertoire. In addition to juggling, Jacob is involved in many different balancing arts. He has been slacklining for several years, which translates well to tightrope as well as giving him a good handle on globe, rola bola, and stilts. Outside of circus he studies neuroscience and works with youth with autism, which perfectly complements his work with circus youth and adaptive circus.

Jordan Ruiz- Stretching, Contortion and Conditioning

Jordan has been training in contortion, dance and aerial acrobatics since she was a child. She has both her personal training and yoga teacher certification. She recently got a degree in visual art with a minor in early childhood education, making her a perfect fit for our programs. She is currently available for contortion training by private session only, email for availability.

Laura Burghardt, Julia Fisher, Sam Garn, Isabel Vincent, Nola Millet and Summer Solon.

These talented ladies and gentlemen are our advanced students and interns. They bring their unique athletic and education backgrounds and talents to assist in all of our classes and help nurture our students development with more one on one in class instruction. 

In addition to our regular instructors we have guests and alumni that come through on a regular basis who include Rachel Walker of the National Circus School in Montreal, Cody Hayman (@circococo), Elena Sanders of the Zoppe Family Circus, Liam Halstead: box juggler extraordinaire, Ariella Gladstein, Ren Carter-Tucker of NECCA and more!

Hiring! We are always looking for ways to strengthen out program! If you teach a skill we don't offer or have an idea for an awesome new class, always feel free to reach out with proposals and resumes! We are currently looking for a tumbling teacher. One of our goals is that this program will support three full time teachers/partners. If your passion is circus education and you have a goal to do that for the long term and live in one city, reach out, we'd love to talk about partnership opportunities. This person would have strong skills in juggling, acrobatics, tumbling or balance skills.