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Our Team

Circus professional Corey Cheval

Dr. Corey Cheval, Executive Director

Founder & Director Dr. Corey Cheval has studied classical dance and music from an early age, and later took a specialized interest in the dance and music of Brazil. It was during her research on the dances of the African diaspora in Bahia, Brazil that she first began her study of aerial arts (2005). Cheval holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Florida (2015) and an M.A. in Performance Studies from the Federal University of Bahia (2008). 

With a research focus on performance and identity, Cheval taught courses at the college level in both technical and theoretical aspects of performing arts. Cheval has published her research on performance studies in peer-reviewed academic journals, and has been a guest speaker at TEDxUF, Frank Conference, Harn Museum of Art & Appleton Museum of Art. 

Cheval has travelled and performed across the United States and Brazil as an acrobat, singer and dancer since the early 2000s. Cheval produces Dusty’s Ragtime Circus, an award winning live music circus show. As director of the Gainesville Circus Center, she shares her passion for performing arts with the next generation of young artists. Cheval has written several successful grants for the production of shows and general program support at the Gainesville Circus Center. Cheval has also provided Visa document services, tour planning, PR and travel logistics for international artists working in the U.S. Additionally, she is the author of Cheval Aerial Training Method, an aerial teacher training course recognized by NASM / AFAA. 

Isabel Brazzel, Youth Program Coordinator & Office Manager

Izzy is an avid mover and as been dancing for over 16 years! She is trained in classical ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and movement improv. She has experience teaching dance to youth in both English and Spanish, and has spent the last 4 years performing with a dance company in Richmond. However, she is proud to say that she "ran away to join the circus" and has found a new love in the circus and aerial arts. Coach Izzy is also our youth program coordinator. 

Aerial silks artist Liz Bouton

Liz Bouton, Instructor

Liz studied classical ballet from the ages of 3 - 20, but found her passion dancing in the air. Her favorite apparatus are silks and lyra, and she loves getting bendy with flexibility classes. As a young ballerina, Liz received many merit scholarships to attend summer intensives ranging from the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC to the Orlando Ballet School. Ballet has helped with her flexibility and technique in the air, and though she will always admire it, she loves how strong aerial has made her inside and out.

Aerial silks artist Rainy Barton

Rainy Barton, Instructor

Rainy Barton is an elementary music teacher, teaching grades Pre-K-5 about the joys of music making. Music and dance has always been a part of her life through her participation in band, musical theatre productions, dance teams, etc. She stumbled upon aerial arts through a friend, and has not stopped attending since. Her favorite apparatus is silks. She is very thankful for the circus community and enjoys performing and teaching there.


Kate Schwitz, Instructor

Kate has trained in flying trapeze and aerial silks with Tito Gaona, and has taken her passion for the circus arts with her to UF, where she is majoring in Computer Science. Her love for performing arts extends to various forms of dance, as well as classical piano.

Ryah Wa, Instructor

Ryah has loved flying trapeze since xyr youth. While Spanish web is the most important apparatus to xem, xyr favorite part of aerial is getting stronger every day.

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Samatha Belmore, Assistant Instructor

Coach Sam has been performing and involved in Gainesville Circus Center ever since 2016. She started in the kid circus camp and started training from there. Her favorite apparatus is silks. She is currently working on graduating high school in Santa Fe’s dual enrollment program. 

Stacie Atria, Instructor

Stacie discovered circus in 2017 and immediately fell in love with this challenging art form. Her favorite part is understanding how technique can be married to strength to produce amazing skills. When she’s not training in circus arts she can be found with her husband and 2 children, being a holistic veterinarian, riding horses, or performing various types of bodywork on people.

Kelli Sanders, Instructor

Kelli is the Co-owner of Evolve Pilates, a Pilates based fitness and wellness center here in Gainesville.  She has been teaching and helping the Gainesville Community feel strong and well for the last 20 years.  Kelli found Corey and the school in 2015 and has been an active team member ever since.  Kelli loves circus arts and the joy it brings to her life.  She truly believes in the joy of movement and how finding your movement can change your life.  She is currently only teaching flying trapeze but also trains on static trapeze and lyra. Kelli is also a mom and wife. She loves to cook, create recipes and FLY!

Lauren Orlik, Instructor

Lauren is a NASM certified personal trainer with over 8 years of training in aerial arts. In addition to circus, she is an active runner, having participated in multiple half and full marathons, as well as a Ragnar 200-mile relay. She is a Dallas native, has been happily married for just over two years, and has a Goldendoodle therapy puppy-in-training named Boo. 

Hula hoop artist Jessica Antiga

Jessica Antiga, Instructor

Jessica Antiga is an entusiastic swim mom, an avid Zumba enthusiast, Samba mama queen, and rockin circus clown. She has worked with the GCC Flying Trapeze Team since 2017 and serves on the board of directors.

Katie Olson, Instructor

Katie began gymnastics at age 6, and has since fallen in love with latin dance, silks, and acroyoga. She feels at home in the air and enjoys combining elegance with athleticism through acrobatics. By day she is a counselor, and at night she can be found donning her tights to climb the silks or master a new acroyoga flow.


Maddie Williams, Assistant Instructor

Maddie began training circus arts at the age of 8. She is a powerful performer and excels at aerial silks. At the age of 12, she became a soloist with Dusty's Ragtime Circus and performed in regional events. Maddie transitioned from student to team member as an assistant instructor in June 2023. 


AV Tech & Maintenance

Classically trained and self proclaimed progressive metal enthusiast, Venezuelan artist Xavi Leon has worked both on stage and behind the scenes as a pop artist, producer and sound technician in South America and Europe. Leon has worked with the Gainesville Circus Center since it's inception as sound technician, roadie, rigging inspector, general maintenance, and most recently, band director and lead guitarist for CircusPalooza. 

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