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 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."
Company Dancer/Adjunct Teacher
Jennifer (“Jem”) Alvarado is both a performer and teacher of aerial dance, with an emphasis on performance with aerial fabric. She has studied with Arwen Anderson and Kerri Kerinski, and continues to learn from other aerialists. Alvarado also manages her own studio where she teaches yoga, and has been a P.E. instructor for 10 years at the Challenger school. “I’m inspired by working with UpSwing,” she says. “Performing on rope and harness is new to me, and I enjoy having the chance to collaborate with other dancers.” www.FlyingYogaLove.com
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!."
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.
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. www.alissakaplan.com
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
COMPANY DANCER/ADJUNCT TEACHER
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.
ARTISTS AND COLLABORATORS
Sarah Stolar is an interdisciplinary artist who lives in the Bay Area. Her primary focus is drawing and painting, however she also works in multi-media installation, film, and video. She grew up in an art studio/school environment, received a BFA in Painting from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and a MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute, where she currently teaches. Sarah Stolar is also involved in collaborative projects with several notable performance artists, she has worked on two feature-length films, and curated five gallery and museum exhibitions. Selected visual art and performance exhibitions include the Donaufestival, Krems, Austria; Anti-Contemporary Art Festival, Kuopio, Finland; Currents 2011, Santa Fe; 53rd Venice Biennale; and a solo exhibition at the Bohemian Gallery & Museum of Contemporary Art, Montevideo, Uruguay.
Sarah appreciates the cross-disciplinary nature of working with Upswing. "Cherie has the ability to merge aerial with conceptual aspects of visual performance," she says. "It's not just the movement that makes each piece exciting; it's the story behind the dance, the costume, as if the dancers become part of a moving sculpture." www.sarahstolar.com
GUEST TEACHER, former Company dancer
Ashley Foster studied aerial dance with Terry Sendgraff, noted aerial dance pioneer, after having a taste of aerial arts at Camp Winnarainbow. She also performed and co-choreographed as part of Terry Sendgraff’s Aerial Dancers for several years and had a stint performing aerial and various other circus arts with the Technomania Circus. Since Sendgraff’s retirement, Foster has been working with Cherie Carson and UpSwing Aerial Dance Company, both performing with the company and teaching a beginning/intermediate aerial dance class. “I really appreciate the opportunities for growth that Cherie has provided,” notes Foster, when asked about her work with the company. Beyond aerial arts, Foster has earned gold medals at the 2012 World Unicycling Championships, designed award-winning costumes, presented at conferences on sustainability and climate change issues, and traveled much of the globe. Her formal education includes a B.S. in Chemistry, an M.S. in Environmental Science Engineering, and a certificate in Apparel Design & Merchandising.
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.