Social Circus Committee Members
Meet the members of the 2023 Social Circus Committee. Interested in getting involved? Check out this page.
Becky Brown (she/her, member since 2020) is a small Asian human who has found pronouns rather confusing when referring to herself in third person, but by default uses she/her pronouns. Becky has been flipping around in various roles in the circus for over a decade, although her first love was, and always will be, teaching. Becky began teaching in academic settings – from precalculus to Shakespeare to ACT Prep and beyond – and very quickly realized a place within the circus teaching world. With a movement background centered around artistic gymnastics and classical ballet, Becky’s teaching focuses on grace, musicality, and developing the the strength to execute dynamic movement with impeccable form*. Becky completed her certification in the Gyrokinesis Method™ in 2018 and has since been integrating principles of Gyrokinesis in her lessons to help students increase their body awareness, tune in with their breath, and stay injury free. She has taught with Frequent Flyers Productions, Aloft Circus Arts, Circus Harmony, and Circus Smirkus. Becky is currently based in the Boston area, teaching with Esh Circus Arts and partnering with The Click – a grassroots contemporary dance collective, as well as moonlighting in the entertainment rigging industry.
CarlosAlexis Cruz (he/him, Committee Co-Chair, member since 2020) is the Producing Artistic Director of the Nouveau Sud Circus project; a circus for social change company in service of intercultural and cross cultural communication in the urban region of Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is currently invested in the creation of BESTIA, a circus take on the journey of central American immigrants. Cruz’s Nouveau Sud was just awarded a NEFA National Theatre Project Creation and Touring grant for Bestia. Other awards: Knight Foundation- Celebrate Charlotte Arts, Princess Grace Foundation 2017 Works in Progress Award for the development of Pícaro with the support of the Baryshnikov Arts Center in NYC and the 2014 Arts and Science Council’s McColl award for the development of new, socially-engaged work. With the latter the Nouveau Sud project was developed.
Cynthia Rauschert (member since 2022) has been a practitioner of social circus education and a circus performer since 2003, and in 2007 founded Circus Moves. In 2021 Cynthia completed a master’s degree in recreational therapy at Southern Connecticut State University. During her coursework the department invited her to develop a level 200 elective course based on using circus programming in recreational and therapeutic settings. As a staunch advocate for the transformational power of circus arts on individuals and communities, Cynthia has brought coaching, performing, and public speaking programs everywhere from birthday parties to board rooms in eighteen states, five countries, three continents, and on one great big ship.
After a college career in gymnastics, Jens Larson (he/him, member since 2020) spent 19 years as a circus artist. He performed on four different continents in shows that ranged from small (the five-person Royal Lichtenstein Circus) to huge (multiple-ring Shrine circuses in the US and Canada) and ran the stylistic spectrum from traditional (Vidbel Family Circus and others) to contemporary (San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus). His specialties were aerial roman rings, comedy chair balancing, and rola bola. Jens took a break from circus in 2000 and became a public school educator in Phoenix where he taught math for 14 years. In 2015, Jens combined his previous two careers and started Phoenix Youth Circus Arts, a social circus program that produces after-school circus clubs, summer camps, and special events throughout the city for kids from a variety of backgrounds. In 2020, Jens joined the board of directors of AYCO/ACE.
Kate Magram (member since 2017) likes: barefoot walks on the beach, sunsets, starry nights, cuddling farm animals, cuddling any animals, reading, neuropsychology, social psychology, Indian food, musical theatre, Run the Jewels, sriracha, accessible circus, partner acrobatics, teaching, social justice, language, learning about international social circus programs and communities, building community, connecting people, Oxford commas, and peaches.
Dislikes: people being mean, raw tomatoes, and writing bios.
Kiendra Simpson (they/she, member since 2022) is a Masters of Social Work graduate from SUNY Brockport with an emphasis on mental health care, mental illness recovery, substance use recovery, co-occuring disorder recovery, community, expressive arts and the LGBTQIA+ population. Kiendra also specializes in quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research in psychology, behavioral and social sciences. Kiendra is currently studying to become a licensed social worker as well as in the future becoming a licensed clinical social worker. Kiendra further is a recent graduate of The State University of New York at Buffalo with their BA in Psychology, prior to this they also received their AA in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Alfred State College. Kiendra is a sister of Delta Chi Omega sorority and is fluent in violin and saxophone. Kiendra’s athletic background includes running cross country, running varsity track when they were just in eighth grade and being a part of her high school co- ed cheerleading team, the Elmira Express, where they had won States in 2015. Kiendra found a love for hoop dancing in 2018 and then found aerial in 2019 where they have trained on multiple apparatuses. Kiendra knows from personal experience as well as experience with students and friends that healing is possible through circus and aims to be a circademic once they go back to school to receive their PhD in social and personality disorders. Kiendra currently runs a small troupe called Hooplah Troupe as well as works at Aerial Arts of Rochester. They also are a mental health therapist and a volunteer at a harm reduction team called PHRee TEMple. Kiendra is very excited to grow their circus connections as well as learn more around the ideas of social and community circuses.
Kristen Woods (member since 2022) is the Co-Executive Director of Wise Fool New Mexico. She is als a coach and performer in New Mexico. She is an artist who focuses on Stilt Walking, Clown and Aerial Fabric. Kristen believes that circus has magic for everyone.
Mike Hirschbach (member since 2022) has been a circus artist for 35 years. He performed from 2001-2003 with the Cirque du Soleil’s touring show “Dralion.” From 2003 – 2005 he was a Master Trainer with the Cirque’s social outreach program, Cirque du Monde. As such, he trained the trainers in the existing Cirque du Monde programs, upgrading their circus, social and teaching skills in Orlando, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, South Africa and Burkina Faso. Since 2005 his full time work has been directing the Halifax Circus school and the outreach programs of Circus Circle, working with youth in difficulty; incarcerated youth, youth with addictions, with mobility or mental health issues, and those from a background of abuse.
Before performing with the Cirque du Soleil, he toured his solo theatrical-circus shows for many years. These performances were seen across Canada, the continental U.S., Europe, Asia, India, the Yukon and Alaska in venues such as the Calgary Olympic Games, the Canada Summer Games, the International Mime Festival in Montreal, the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, the Singapore River Festival and the International Clown Festival in Mumbai and Goa, India.
Rhen Molly Miles (she/her, member since 2022) is passionate about the intersection of movement, group collaboration, performance, and social change. Rhen believes there is a need to understand, deconstruct, and rebuild teaching spaces to foster a genuinely inclusive, equitable, just, and trauma-informed learning environment. She has held various roles in the youth development field for over 15 years as a social worker, educator, and community-based researcher. Rhen found her undiscovered passion for circus arts and performance in 2013 as she was working on her dissertation on youth participatory programming and was later able to design and facilitate Voice Project, bringing these two worlds together. This program integrated a trauma-informed approach to facilitation and teaching, creating a space for participants to share power and create multidisciplinary circus arts performances, infused with their lived experience and a call to action for audience members. Rhen is currently residing on the stolen land of the Cowlitz, Cascades, Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (Portland, OR, USA) and working as a somatic-based trauma therapist.
Dr. Stephanie Little Thunder Morphet-Tepp, (member since 2023) known on the stage as The Flying Brain, is a full-time performer and circus educator. She has worked with nationally and internationally touring circuses such as Garden Brothers’ Circus, Great Benjamin’s Circus, The Vampire Circus, and Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, as well as Denver’s premiere circus company The Phantom Circus, where she is also an executive assistant. The Flying Brain specializes in aerial hoop, aerial chains, and hula hoops, although her greatest joy is performing and sharing the art of hair hang. Dr. Morphet-Tepp also coaches fabric, including sling and silks, artistry, partner work, fire safety and performance, and flexibility. You may have seen her on the TV screen as a competitor on season 2 of TBS’ Go-Big Show. She also acquired a Guinness World Record for her hair work in 2022 (confirmed February 2023). Her passion is bringing the circus to all, especially people who don’t think they can do it, or have been told by other coaches they can’t do it. Yes, yes you can!
Theresa Edge (she/they member since 2023) started their circus journey at the age of 26 with no background in dance, gymnastics, or any of the physical disciplines customarily seen in this industry. In lieu of a traditional movement background, they found themselves drawn to literature and creative writing. Since finding circus she has been enamored with the potential for storytelling through circus arts. This hunger led her to contemporary circus company “the Nouveau Sud project”. From a young age Theresa has always been passionate about the world and social issues- starting ventures into journalism and organizing while in high school. They find joy in training, creating, and spreading the philosophy that everyone is capable of achieving success in circus with the right dedication and progression regardless of your starting point. It is their goal to tell meaningful and impactful stories through movement and strive to find ways to make this artform more inclusive and accessible to all. If they’re not training, reading, or enjoying conversations with humans you can find them chasing their two beautiful kids around Charlotte, NC.
Past Social Circus Committee Members Include:
David Hunt, Magnificent Farrell, Indi McCasey, A Jo Christian, Marci Diamond, Zoe Brookes, John Highkin, Jen Agans, Charles Collins, Aimee Espiritu, and Sara Deull