Meet the Staff

 

Niko Douwes

Coach

Niko is a very experienced acrobatic instructor from The Netherlands. Well versed in the circus arts, he has spent the last 20 years training in traditional Dutch acrobatics. He is an organizer of the Dutch Juggling Convention, Dutch Acro Convention and the preconvention to the dutch acrobatics festival and the Bangkok acro convention. Additionally, Niko has helped assemble many acrobatic events throughout India, Thailand, Spain and Australia. Niko specializes in partner acrobalance and juggling. With more than 20 years experience instructing students from across the globe, Niko has built quite a reputation as a great teacher of technique and harbinger of joy. Niko’s passion for acrobatics is contagious and he truly loves spreading the knowledge and harmony of his practice to all willing and capable pupils.  

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Cassie Preyss (Drew)

Coach

Cassie was one of the original coaches way back in the dawn of the age of Pitch Catch Circus. She has been channeling her energy into training, coaching and building partner acrobatics skills in Asheville and around the country ever since. She is our resident tumbling and toe-point specialist, with more than 3 decades of gymnastics experience under her belt. At Pitch Catch she is often seen alternating between back handsprings, back flying and banquine tosses to back tuck.

 

As part of the process of putting down roots in the mountains of NC, in 2018 Cassie co-founded the Blue Ridge Acrobatics youth acro team. She also works as a personal trainer, handstand coach, and teaches silks and lyra. She has been creating, choreographing and producing performance art since 2007. 

 

Cassie has been pushing her physical limits ever since becoming a gymnast as a child, competing throughout college and later finding partner acrobatics and aerial arts. Her most extreme and rewarding physical achievement came more recently, with the birth of her beautiful son Phoenix Chaska into the world, followed by easing into the newer, slightly less well-rested kind of flexibility that parenthood demands.

 

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Blox
Coach

Blox is an acrobat, one of fine feats.

He plays all the parts, they say that he cheats!

For gravity loses when this one inverts, then into a base he quickly converts.

Oh no!

Someone goes plummeting face-first-to-earth!

Look there!

I do declare, that Blox has just snatched someone out of the air!

Yet what’s more important to Blox’s soft heart

Than doing the skills with his body as art --

Is coaching, dear reader

Yes coaching indeed

Transmission of knowledge

And pedagogy.

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Christine Moonbeam
Coach

Christine is the founder of Christine Moonbeam Acro, co-founder of Colorado Acro Fest, Coach at Pitch Catch Circus: School of Acrobatics, a RYT 200 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Iowa. Christine was first introduced to partner acrobatics in 2010 while working with a youth social circus for underserved youth in Washington D.C. called Zip Zap Circus USA. It was here that her passion for acro started to take flight! She has been studying partner acrobatics and handstands ever since with sports acro, circus and hand balancing coaches in the US and Europe. Christine has spent the last 7 years developing pedagogy, educating acro teachers, facilitating various events, traveling and teaching around the US, Europe, Asia, and Mexico. At Pitch Catch Circus School she teaches partner acro, handstands, hand balancing and dance. Christine believes partner acrobatics is a powerful tool for self-discovery, empowerment, and community building. She is an advocate of earth stewardship, food sovereignty and BIPOC + Trans allyship.

 
Ryan Hamity
Coach

Ryan found his love for partner acrobatics in 2009 following a career as an elite level cyclist.  He spent the following years refining, teaching, and performing across North America.  He began coaching with Pitch Catch School of Acrobatics the spring of 2016 and Co-Founded Blue Ridge Acrobatics, a sport acro team in 2018.  He specializes in coaching duo, trio, groups, handstands, strength training, and also has a background in personal training.  When he is not coaching he enjoys building props for handstands through his brand Hammys Canes.  He resides in the mountains of Asheville, NC.

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Jeremy Martin
Coach

Fitness Professional since 2001: personal trainer, yoga instructor, strength coach, and avid acroyoga enthusiast. Born in NYC, but now traveling as @HomelessYogi.

We all walk different paths. The human body is how we walk, run, duck, climb, and shuffle through life. He teaches people how to move efficiently and effectively: the gym, home, outdoors, everywhere.

Jeremy has a diverse skill set and prefers to be a jack of all trades. He strongly believes in the adaptability of human bodies, and is constantly surprised by the physical and mental capabilities of his clients.

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Micah Ellinger

Coach

Micah Ellinger has been immersed in the world of partner acrobatics since 2008, starting with an intensive circus program for 9 months at New England Center for Circus Arts in Vermont, and in 2016 completed 3 years training hand to hand at École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal.  Since then he has been performing internationally with several companies, including Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Éloize, and Circus Monti. In between performing contracts he enjoyed connecting with the recreational and hobbyist acrobatic communities, teaching worldwide at workshops, intensives, and festivals.  Since the pandemic, he has transitioned to coaching primarily, with appreciation for how the recreational community can have a focus on connection, communication, and longevity.

Apryl Blakeney

Co-Founder

 

After nearly a decade of travel across Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa, Apryl decided it was time to settle down. So she did what any wanderlust, acrophile would do- she ran away to join the circus… naturally. Apryl began building her home within the big-top in 2012. A year later she graduated from Circomedia: Centre for Contemporary Circus in Bristol, UK where she specialized in acrobalance and physical theatre. Upon completion, Apryl began touring as a professional burlesque artist and acrobat. These days she spends most of her time basing her sweet little baby boy at Rebel Ridge: Home of the Acro Farm an intentional residential community she co-founded with other delightful acrobats. She loves raising the next generation of up-side down do-gooders inside farm-life community.  

 

 

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Ilana Blankman

Co-Founder

 

Ilana has been teaching and performing circus for 10 years. She began her training with Wise Fool New Mexico, a social justice circus and puppetry organization in Santa Fe, NM, and served for many years as Lead Coach and Programs Director there. She attended circus school at Circomedia, in Bristol England which is where she met Apryl, and the dream of Pitch Catch was formed soon after. She currently teaches aerials, handstands and flexibility at AirDance in Albuquerque, NM and performs regularly at Meow Wolf, an immersive arts experience in Santa Fe. When not upside down, she can generally be found in her kitchen making you tacos.