UpSwing is a contemporary aerial dance company that features the repertory of Artistic Director Cherie Carson. The Company has been presented locally and nationally, performing & teaching to audiences and students in New York, NY;  Seattle, WA;  Santa Monica, Sacramento and San Francisco, CA;  and San Antonio, Austin and Houston,TX.

Cherie Carson

 Cherie performing "Kiting"

Cherie performing "Kiting"

Artistic Director

Cherie Carson is a contemporary choreographer, dancer, aerialist, teacher, & interdisciplinary artist. Cherie performed her first aerial dance piece in 1990.  In 1992, Cherie began to incorporate video into dance. Her video was a finalist for the Robert Bennett Award in LA.  In 1998, Cherie performed to sold-out houses at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Upon arriving in the Bay Area in 2000, Cherie studied with Terry Sendgraff and in 2005 she took over Terry's Aerial Dance business.  She has performed and studied with 30+ national & international dance makers including Molissa Fenley, Merce Cunningham, Bebe Miller, Tanztheater Rubato, Bridgeman-Packer Dance, Douglas Nielson and Dwight Shelton.  Upon arriving in the Bay Area in 2000, Cherie studied and taught workshops with Terry Sendgraff.  She has choreographed dances that have been performed in a planetarium, on stilts, on roller blades, in sculpture gardens, reflection pools in a dress of 11 yards, on a bungee cord hanging from a Banyan tree, on trapeze, tissu, slings, rope & harness and invented equipment.  Cherie has created more than 40 aerial pieces for herself, UpSwing Company & other companies and individual artists.  

"My life’s work as a dancer/choreographer/artistic director has been to explore my imagination and intuition. While I am not always sure where the sparks of insight come from that drive me to continue to create, to feel passionately about something that doesn't exist yet, to try things to see if they work, to ask questions, this is how I view life and how I view my art form."

Kirstin Brown

Company Dancer

Kirstin Brown has a BA in Theatre Arts from Humboldt State University.  She has worked as a professional makeup artist and currently performs as a belly dancer. Kirstin recently joined the UpSwing company as part of her continuing dance studies:  "The next step in my dancing career is to get off the floor, and into the air!."  

 Karin Auch Photography

Karin Auch Photography

Helen fitanides

Company Dancer/Teacher

Helen Fitanides danced on the ground for many years, but a whole new world opened up in 2010 when she began dancing with the La Petite Chouette Aerial Dance Company in Santa Barbara. She had the opportunity to learn many aerial genres (including fabrics, rope, trapeze and lyra), and has had the pleasure of performing in California, Arizona, and Colorado. She is thrilled to be dancing with the UpSwing Company! She has a degree in marine biology and works in the environmental field when not flying.  


Hannah Dworkin

Company Dancer/Adjunct Teacher

Hannah Dworkin is a skilled performing artist and educator with a strong background in modern and aerial dance as well as in opera. The Director of UpSwing Youth Programs, she is a fully credentialed classroom and music teacher. Dworkin holds a B.A. in Dance from the University of California Berkeley and an M.A. in Music and Music Education from Columbia University.  A regular performer in musical theatre, she has “flown” in musicals, from Aladdin to Peter Pan. “What I enjoy about performing with UpSwing is that the work unites what I love about the arts – both the visual and dance aspects,” she says. 


Elizabeth Scotten - on maternity leave

Company Dancer/Adjunct Teacher

Elizabeth Milne-Kahn is a graduate of U.C. Santa Cruz, where she majored in Community Studies.  She holds a teaching credential from Mills College, and teaches elementary school.  Her early training was in gymnastics and ice skating. She began working with Terry Sendgraff in 2000, performing with Cherie Carson, and later with Miranda Company in Santa Cruz.  

She returned to the Bay Area, studying and performing again with UpSwing.  “Aerial dance is more meditative and more expressive for me than gymnastics or circus skills,” Milne-Kahn says.  “The artistry is more of a challenge, and that’s what I love about it.”

Alissa Kaplan Soto

Company Dancer/Adjunct Teacher/Visual Artist

Alissa Kaplan Soto studied aerial dance for six years with Terry Sendgraff and performed with her company until Sendgraff’s retirement.  She then began studying with Cherie Carson, and joined UpSwing Company, returning for this year’s season after 3 years in New York, where she performed with Julie Ludwick’s Fly-by-Night Dance Theater.  As an artist, Alissa works in many mediums such as, painting, printmaking, and fiber arts. Her artistic style can be seen in her choreographic work as she melds her fine art to movement. Alissa holds a B.F.A. in Ceramics and an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Hunter College. She is a working artist and teacher.

Helium valentine

Company Dancer/ Teacher Girls Who Fly


One doesn't choose to be a dancer, they are born one.  Helium began dancing from the time she could walk.  She had a few formal years of ballet in Atlanta as a young child which she learned key points of alignment and safety that she kept with her the rest of her life.  She was introduced to modern in her teens, tried ballet again in college, but chose improv and modern to earn her minor in Dance along the a History degree at Oberlin College.
She dance in LA in a modern dance company and for agencies for many years.  She thought yoga was her calling and completed a Teacher Training, but it was aerial dance that became the path she had to take when she took  her first class in 2009.  In 2013 she completed a 10 month  aerial professional training at Frequent Flyers in Boulder, Colorado.  She moved to the Bay Area in 2014 where she now trains, teaches and performs.  When she is not doing aerial, she cross trains with Muay Thai and yoga.  


CARA ZEISLOFT - on maternity leave


Originally from Portland, Cara Zeisloft began dancing at age four, and began taking classes when she was eleven. Cara first danced in the air at The Evergreen State College in 1992, then studied in Seattle with Robert Davidson. She has also danced on the ground with the Chimene Pollard Dance Group, and performed with We Players in site-specific theater on Alcatraz. Cara has a psychotherapy practice in Berkeley, where she helps people with issues of gender and sexuality, relationships, and integrating masculinity and intimacy. While Cara makes dances of her own, she relishes the chance to turn over the choreography to the ever-inventive Cherie Carson, and just fly.



Richard Kittle

Rigger for UpSwing Company

Richard Kittle has worked throughout the Bay Area with aerialists and aerial companies including Bandaloop and Kim Epifano. He has been rigging for UpSwing shows since 2005.