Meet the Judges for the 2016 U.S. Aerial Championships
Samuel started dabbling in the circus world at the age of 7, when he developed a passion for juggling. He began his training and got some stage experience at l’École de cirque de Verdun. After completing his professional studies at the National Circus School in Montreal, he began working as an artist on various projects and shows worldwide, for Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Éloize, Cavalia and many other world-renowned companies. He and Nicolas Boivin Gravel then founded the company Throw2catch, which specializes in the production of contemporary circus shows. He also set up a circus arts and acrobatic activities training and development centre called Studio ArtCorps, with Jérôme Le Baut. Since then, he has been fascinated by the creation of shows and is seeking to develop a new type of performance using innovative ideas and concepts that have yet to be explored in the circus world. He wants to transform spectators' experience and their participation in the performance. Samuel joined the Casting team in 2014.
Danita began her dance training at the age of four in upstate New York at Southern Tier Academy of Dance where she became the owner at the age of 15. She continued her training at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
Her credits include: European tour of Fame- Das Tanz Musical (Dance Captain); Star Search; North American tour of Fame (Dance Captain); 50th Anniversary Tour of Guys and Dolls; Fame on 42nd Street- Little Shubert Theatre (Resident Choreographer); Hot Feet- Hilton Theatre Broadway (Assistant Choreographer); West Side Story- Portland Center Stage. Danita has staged numbers for Live with Regis and Kelly, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Latin Grammy Awards with Pitbull & Marc Anthony, David Bisbal, Jesse y Joy, and Marco Antonio Solis, America’s Got Talent, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dancing With The Stars, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, and Brandon Flowers’ “Only the Young” music video.
She currently resides in Nevada and serves as the Resident Choreographer at Le Reve- The Dream inside Wynn Las Vegas where she works with some of the world’s top athletes including Olympic gymnasts, aerialists, sport acrobats, synchronized swimmers and dancers.
Milan-born Firenza Guidi is an independent, award-winning theatre/circus, film director, writer and visual artist who has developed NoFit State style of performance as a touring company through all incarnations of Immortal, Tabú and more recently Bianco. Firenza trained as a performer with international masters such as Dario Fo, Philippe Gaulier, Enrique Pardo and Ida Kelarova; and as an actress/singer at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. In 1989 she founded Elan (European Live Arts Network) and since 2004, she’s been running her Creative Centre housed in an old olive press in Tuscany, Italy.
She has a PhD in Renaissance Tragedy and an MA in Film. For the last 20 years she's been developing her unique style of circus training and performance creating scores of small and large scale performances throughout Europe and beyond, training and inspiring performers and artists from all over the world. She has given papers and talks in many different venues and institutions.
Her work, which has become emblematic and the focus of documentaries and dissertations across countries, is an all-encompassing methodological approach and ongoing research based on two fundamental beliefs: the performer is an all-round, time-based being with body, voice, memory and a fundamental ironic and subversive quality on stage; the space and the spectator are co-players in the artistic process. The vision for each show creates a world which the spectators enter and not simply watch from afar.
Adam graduated from the conservatory program at the UNC School of the Arts, and the first Professional Track program at the New England Center for Circus Arts. He continued his training in San Francisco, and then found his way to New York in 2010, where he founded his private studio CircusEdge and cultivated his love of coaching and choreographing, becoming a sought-after Rope/Fabric coach as well as teaching Contortion and Hand-balancing.
In 2012, concerned about the needs of a growing sector, Adam joined the Board of Directors of the American Youth Circus Organization and chaired a committee of dedicated industry leaders in the creation of the Safety Program, a recognition program for circus arts programs and teacher training programs that meet excellent risk management standards. AYCO created the American Circus Educators Association in 2014, and Adam now works as the Safety Program Manager while continuing to hold his seat on the Board.
In 2013, Adam partnered with Duncan Wall to form Circus Now, a non-profit organization that serves the circus arts community and the public through education and advocacy for circus arts. Adam serves as CN’s Managing Director, curating events, workshops and programming opportunities for emerging companies to showcase new work.
He is currently the Head Coach at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts.
Joshua Dean is an NYC based aerial and circus performer. He is co-owner of Aerial Arts NYC and co-creator of 2 Ring Circus. 2 Ring Circus has created aerial and circus work for La Opera’s “Ghost of Versailles”, Hartford Stage’s “ The Tempest”, and Goodspeed Opera House’s “CARNIVAL!” for Tony Award winning director’s Darko Tresnjak. Other creative credits include Arkansas Rep’s “Little Mermaid” and Broadway Bares. He has consulted for NBC’s “Smash” and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s “Man in A Case”. Performance credits include Twyla Tharp’s “Times They Are A-Changin’”, Norwegian Cruise Line, and many more.
Derick Pierson has been a professional circus performer for the past seven years. He has been in such productions as the donkey show, cirque d’amore, cirqesco, vampire circus, oceans of white music festival, Hermes Fashion show, Sabado Gigante, rainbow circus, and the list continues. He is trained in Pole, contortion, aerial hoop, aerial fabrics, trapeze, the passion, and aerial cube. Now Derick works at Pixie Fitness Florida and is traveling the world doing what he loves best; teaching and performing. Derick has also won the following titles in the past years competing in aerial competitions around the world.
-US Pole Sport Federation Male Champion 2015
-Southern Pole Fitness Champion 2015
-PWN Best Male Performer of the Year 2014.
-PSO Southern pole fitness champion 2014,
-IPC Ultimate Pole Champion 2013,
-Male National Aerial Pole Art Champion 2013,
-2nd Place Pole Art Champion 2013,
-3rd Place IPSF World Champion 2013,
-2nd Place Australian Pole Fitness Champion 2013,
-2nd Place International Pole Masters Champion 2012
-Male National Aerial Pole Art Champion and Best Technique 2012,
-American Pole Fitness Champion for 2011.
Before starting her aerial arts career 13 years ago, Jessica Piekos trained in and performed ballet, modern, and jazz dance with the Nashville Ballet and enjoyed a successful international modeling and acting career, which brought her to stages in Paris, Milan, London, New York, and more. She has performed on and trained in many aerial apparatuses, including tissu, hoop, hammock, Spanish web, trapeze (static, bungee, and flying), stilt dancing, and several specialty apparatuses such as aerial chains, cube and fire hoop. In 2005, Jessica opened The Aerial Classroom in Los Angeles. Today her studio is one of top aerial schools in LA, producing performers who have gone on to successful careers with companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Brothers, Sea World, and Club Med. Many schools, colleges, and fitness studios have approached Jessica to lead aerial programs, expanding the curriculum for students in performing arts. She has also had the pleasure of training popular celebrities such as Carmen Electra and Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian. Jessica spent the last decade running a talent agency called Aerial Showgirls, booking performances internationally. In an effort to help expand and support the circus community and its performers, Jessica produces and hosts an annual, nationwide talent competition in Los Angeles called Circus Star. Her most recent endeavor includes founding Circus Lux, an elite aerial training troupe where Jessica personally hand picks and helps up-and-coming performers perfect their skills and begin their circus careers.
Seeking professional pole, aerial, circus, and entertainment artists to serve as judges in 2017!
Are you excited about the possibility of helping to select U.S. Aerial finalists from video submissions or judge the live show? Submit your information to us below and we will be in touch!