Ungrounded

In 2009, the Chattanooga Aerials opened the first aerial studio in the area. It was opened in order to put on performances and teach the art of aerial dancing to the community. Amy Powell is the founder of this studio, but passed it down to Jen Keehn after owning and operating it for about four years. The Chattanooga Aerials studio teaches classes on silks, trapeze, aerial cubes, aerial ladders, lyra aerial hoops, bungees and many other pieces. They teach beginner levels to pro levels at their studio nearly every single day of the week. 

Occasionally throughout the week, they host open gyms where students can come in and practice their specialties with assistance from staff. The gym does much more than just teach aerial arts; they focus on mind, body, and spirit. The Chattanooga Aerials staff strive to build community among its members from multiple locations. They practice mindfulness in their arts by focusing on comfortability, self awareness, and positive mindfulness. Focus of bodily awareness comes with building healthy habits, strength and flexibility. The studio puts focus on spirit by creating healthy values, open spaces to talk, and trusting community. “Working with the physical body always has a magical way of hitting you deeper in your person…” says Powell. “And that’s kind of the magic aerials and being a part of the aerial community. Closeness is just a natural part of it.”  

The community is one like no other because they practice all three aspects together which grow them in positive ways towards a collective goal. Chattanooga aerials also host special event weekends where they bring in specialized guest teachers to teach things that are not normally offered in the studio. A couple times a year showcases are put on to show the skills learned by students and invite others to join the community. To check out events or try out the art of aerial dance, Chattanooga Aerials can be contacted at chattanoogaaerials@gmail.com.

Amy Powell, Founder of Chattanooga Aerials

Amy Powell is the founder of Chattanooga’s first and only aerial dance studio. She started doing aerials at canopy studio in Athens, Georgia, and at the time it was the only aerial studio in the southeast. It was also one of very few throughout the entire country. 

After doing aerials at that studio and performing in their dance company for eight years, the director of that studio retired. As a result, many of the dancers, including Powell, decided to branch out and start aerial projects of their own. 

At this point, Powell decided that Chattanooga needed a studio because there was no aerial presence at all during that time. She opened the studio in 2009 which put on performances and taught lessons to the public. 

She has been doing aerial arts for 19 years now where she began with trapeze and quickly added silks soon after. Her love for aerials consists more of just silks and trapeze. She enjoys alternative equipment such as aerial cubes, aerial ladders, lyra aerial hoops, bungees and many other pieces.

“Aerials have impacted me positively by giving me a huge sense of body awareness and an outlet for creativity and self-expression,” says Powell. 

After owning and operating Chattanooga Aerials for about four years, she passed ownership to one of her students, Jen Keehn, who is now the current owner. Powell is proud to have passed the company to her student and now teaches classes to the public in Georgia at her home studio, North Georgia Aerials.

Powell says that it is great to get close with others in the aerial community through having fun setting goals and struggling together. “We get to see intimate sides of each other’s personality just in how we handle a challenge,” she says.

When talking about the community impact, she says that they all give each other advice on moves that they have just conquered as well as cheer each other on. Powell says that there is no way to be isolated or distant in this community because they are constantly physically working with each other and always working right alongside one another.

“Working with the physical body always has a magical way of hitting you deeper in your person…” says Powell. “And that’s kind of the magic aerials and being a part of the aerial community. Closeness is just a natural part of it.”


Meet the Storytellers

Marielle Echavez

Marielle Echavez is the head editor of Rising Rock. She is both a staff writer and photographer for the University Echo but is most passionate about videography. She is a senior studying Communication and Psychology and plans to pursue video production post-graduation. Some of her work is displayed on @mariellejaimedia on Instagram and can be contacted at wcb788@mocs.utc.edu.

 

Kaili Spear

Kaili Spear is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga who majors in Communications with a minor in Psychology. She has experience in movie sets and has been capturing moments with her camera since January 2018. Kaili is a creative director of film/photography. “When it comes to creating, I can create just about anything because creativity is unlimited.” Contact her at rty415@mocs.utc.edu.

 

Kirbi Ward

Kirbi Ward works as a photojournalist and a documentary photographer. She has experienced working in photojournalism in Nicaragua, Zambia, and Chattanooga, TN. Kirbi recently won an AP award for her photo portfolio at the Atlanta photojournalism seminar. She is Currently studying communication with a minor in sociology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is most passionate about telling stories through her photographs. Contact her at wkirbi@gmail.com.

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