Meet Our Lead Instructors for RVA CIRCUS ARTS CAMP!
Aubrey Duerksen: Aerial / Director
Aubrey has been practicing and performing aerial silks, partner acrobatics, and dance for community, corporate, and touring events with Host of Sparrows for almost eight years. She found her love for aerial and circus arts as a student of Host of Sparrows Aerial Circus, and performed in her first company production, in 2014 for Mardi Gras at Dogtown Dance Theatre. She became a company instructor in 2016, and taught aerial silks with Host of Sparrows for children of varying abilities for a consecutive 2 years in preparation for SPARC: Live Art shows in 2016 and 2017. In her younger years, Aubrey was a recreational and competitive gymnast for a combined 12 years. Following retirement from competition, Aubrey spent the next 8 years teaching gymnastics and power tumbling to competitive dancers, cheerleaders, and those enjoying the sport for strength and recreation. Aubrey has extensive experience teaching ages 2-64. Aubrey is a long standing, dedicated company member along with her husband Joe, and son Joseph (13), and they create family acts in aerial and partner acrobatics as the “Flying Duerksens” as part of Host of Sparrows Aerial Circus.
Heather Bailey: Aerial Arts
Heather Bailey founded Host of Sparrows Aerial Circus in 2010. She teaches the Host of Sparrows Aerial Silks Classes (all levels of silks and lyra) and is a certified aerial instructor and trained circus rigger. She performs solo and duo aerial silks, aerial rope (corde de lisse), aerial lyra (aerial hoop), solo and duo static trapeze, stilt-walking, modern dance, duo pole, and as a living statue. Heather has experience teaching children, youth, high school, college, and adults, including special needs.
Photo credit: Barbara Shore Portrait
Joe Duerksen: Admin & Aerial
Joe has been an aerial performer for 14 years. From 2009-2012, he was a performer, rigger, and dancer for ‘Project in Motion’ aerial dance company in New Mexico. Joe was a dancer and aerialist performing in The Palace at Night, a production and creation from Project in Motion inspired by the artist and sculpture Alberto Giacometti, performed throughout southwest New Mexico and at the Arts Midwest Spotlight Performance in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2011.Joes began training at Host of Sparrows in 2014, and his first performance was the annual Mardi Gras in 2015 at Dogtown Dance Theater, and he became a company member in 2016, as a cast as a dancer and aerialist in The Big Top in the Little Easy with Host of Sparrows Aerial Circus. Joe has also been a ropes course instructor and rigger for various organizations and camps from 2009-2014. Joe is trained in aerial silks (solo and duo), aerial rope (corde de lisse), rigging, and a few other apparatus. He loves finding and creating new pathways of movement. Circus has become an outlet to explore the limits of the body. He enjoys a stage and climbing just about anything!
Christopher Hudert: Clowning
Christopher Hudert is a versatile artist whose skills include script writing, sculpting, set and puppet construction, puppetry, clowning, stilt walking, juggling and much more. A 9-year veteran of Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus, Christopher has performed live for millions and appeared in TV shows, commercials, magazines and newspapers in both countries. He was Boss Clown for Ringling Bros. before leaving the show to join Master Puppeteer Terry Snyder in the creation of Applause Unlimited. He has returned to Clown College as an instructor and has given lectures and workshops on both clowning and puppetry throughout the country.
Nicole Pisaniello: Costuming, Makeup, & Characters
A former competitive gymnast, Nicole began her aerial circus journey in 2013.
As a Host of Sparrows company member, she performs on silks and lyra as well as designing costumes and make-up for shows. Nicole is also no stranger to theater and character performance, and she loves to combine her knowledge and skills to teach her students.
In Nicole's classes students will learn how to create a character for aerial silks, define how the character works within the apparatus, design costumes and create a makeup design. We will explore our characters in a fun and supportive environment, help each other to work out ideas, and use interactive exercises that get us all working together as one cohesive circus!
Rebecca Dalby: Hoop
Rebecca discovered Hula Hoop dance in 2014 and was instantly hooked. Since then she has trained and performed internationally and is recently certified as Hoop Love Coach/Instructor. She is passionate about guiding students to discover their own unique style of movement while teaching foundational hoop tricks. She is excited to teach at this year’s circus camp for the very first time!
Tegwin Rugg: Juggling & Puppetry
Tegwyn attended RVA Circus Arts Camp for five years as a camper and is excited to return as a camp counselor and juggling instructor. She has experience in juggling balls, diabolo, spinning plates, and more! In addition to her circus arts training, she is a figure skater and currently competes with the Virginia Ice Box Ensemble Theatre on Ice team.
Sydney Gilson: Counselor
Sydney has attended RVA Circus Arts Camp as a camper for four years and is very excited to be a counselor for this year. Sydney has been doing aerial silks at Host of Sparrows since 2019 and has always been fascinated by everything circus related. She comes back to camp as a jack of all trades to help make camp great!
Heidi Rugg: Puppetry
Heidi is on a mission to change the way people think about puppetry.
Heidi writes, builds, and directs shows for her company, Barefoot Puppet Theatre. She also performs and leads workshops on puppet building and puppetry skills for youth, adult hobbyists, and professional puppeteers. Her passion for combining science and puppetry has led her to expanding her practice as a teacher artist and advocating for arts integration. Puppeteering allows Heidi to integrate her fascination with stories, goofy voices, creativity, and writing with her love for art. Heidi has become well-known for her puppet voices, her innovative puppet mechanisms, and original designs.