Pro Training class of 2021


Acrobat Showcase Director: Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi
Clown Showcase Director: Adrian Danzig
Program Manager: Lindsey Noel Whiting
Stage ManagerMadie Doppelt
Dance Choreographer: Michel Rodriguez Cintra
Jugging Choreographer: David Chervony
Lighting Designer: Rachel West
Sound Designer: Eric Backus
Production Manager: Catherine Allen
Run Crew: Griffin DiStasi

“Picnic” song by Charlie Baker

Clown Showcase

May 22 at 4:30 & 7:30pm
May 23 at 3:00 PM


Kylie (they/them) is finishing their BFA from the University of Oklahoma this year. Their early background came from dance and musical theatre, leading to a true passion in physical theatre. In 2017 Kylie attended Stella Adler’s Studio of Acting to train in their Physical Theatre Program. Since moving to Chicago three years ago Kylie has attended the School at Steppenwolf (2019) has worked with Lookingglass, Remy Bumppo, and Redtwist; as well as New Colony, Haven Theatre, Random Acts, and Arc Theatre.

Charlie Baker

Charlie (he/him, they/them) is an actor/clown/advocate from Dallas, TX, and is constantly accused of being at least a little magick.

After graduating Oklahoma City University in 2013, Charlie moved to Chicago and completed the Second City musical improv conservatory before working with the Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company. As well as working with theaters such as Timeline and Babes with Blades, Charlie is the first resident intimacy director for American Blues Theater Company and the University of Chicago.

When not knife juggling at skateparks, clowning at Electric Forest Music Festival, or brushing up with the Bard, Charlie enjoys playing the guitar, dulcimer, and accordion for their cat, (His Holiness) Taliesin Honeytongue, hiking through nature, and constantly searching for the next adventure!

Kimberly Florian

Kimberly (she/her) was born unto this city with nothing but a stick on a dream. However, one day she left her stick on the Halsted 8 bus and now dreams are all she has! Kimberly is a Chicago native and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with her BFA in Acting. She’s also a graduate of the Second City Conservatory, and has spent much of her time performing at The Annoyance Theater. In the before times, she toured nationally with Mission Improvable, and globally as half the sketch comedy duo, HACKS. You can find out more about Kimberly at
and check out HACKS Comedy at

Aaron Quick

Aaron is a clown, pole dancer, multimedia artist, and personal trainer. He studied Performance Studies at Northwestern University where he specialized in performance aesthetics and classical modes of theatre, primarily Commedia dell’Arte. After many years as a sound and video designer he returned to performing with his new company, Laughing Stock Theatre. Find him on Instagram at @aquickone or at and follow Laughing Stock @laughingstockchicago or at

Acrobat Showcase

May 28 at 7:30pm
May 29 at 4:30 & 7:30pm
May 30 at 3pm


Cyr Wheel: Katie Cook
Wire: Saydi Ogden
Silks: Naomi Rusalka Cernota
Table: Katch Zed
Group Juggling: All
Lyra: Julie Matolo
Web: Naomi Rusalka Cernota
Trapeze: Emma Stonesmyth
Handstand: Christian Carr
Silks: Katch Zed
Juggling: Julia deGruchy
Duo Lyra: Emma Stonesmyth & Katie Cook
Chair: Ryan Huemmer
Double Hoop: Brittany Royce & Saydi Ogden
Trapeze: Christian Carr
Pole: Julie Matolo
Cube: Brittany Royce
Double Trap: Ryan Huemmer & Julia deGruchy
Group Dance: All

Christian Carr

Christian is a bit of a Texan anomaly. Although born in Austin, Texas, Christian hit the American highway, with his varied background of Theatre, Improv Comedy, Parkour, Juggling, and Unicycling, as quickly as possible. Through trial and error, he learned the ins and outs of street performing. After creating street shows in places as far-reaching as New Orleans, Los Angeles, Boulder, Colorado (and developing a passion for fire spinning as well as a thriving traveling crystal and jewelry shop along the way), it became obvious that there was only one career path for Christian, and it involved Circus. Realizing that receiving professional training would be invaluable, he made a dynamic move from a Texas-based climate to a Chicago one and a nine-month circus training program began.

Christian’s passion for circus has always stemmed from the desire to lift others above the mundane and express the upper reaches of human potential. With a new arsenal of skills in hand balancing, dance trapeze, tumbling, fire poi, and much more, he hopes to continue to create positive change in the world.

Julia deGruchy

Julia (she/her) is an actor, vocalist and circus artist that creates by igniting playful possibilities. She believes in art that starts conversations and holds the power to heal, reform and rebuild our society. Originally from Philadelphia, she attended The University of the Arts for Musical Theater and shortly after discovered her passion for the physically daring world of circus arts. She later moved to Chicago in 2019 to join the Actors Gym, and has loved exploring the connections between circus arts, vocal athleticism and character work. She joins her new collaborators with continuous curiosity, compassion and gratitude.

Ryan Huemmer

Ryan (he/him) is an actor originally hailing from North Carolina who found himself up North in the cold to complete his BFA in Acting at Boston University’s School of Theatre. Upon graduating Ryan realized that he wasn’t quite ready to join the real world yet, so instead he ran away to circus school…in an even colder place. While at BU he worked as a fight choreographer, movement director, and stage manager for several productions. Some of his favored roles during his tenure there include Joe (Angels in America Part II: Perestroika), Every Damn Man (Hi How Are You How’s Your Sex Life), Eiliff (Mother Courage) and Joe Ryan (When the Rain Stops Falling). While in school Ryan also developed an original one-man documentary theatre show, Flailing into Happiness, derived from interviews conducted throughout 15 different countries. His interest in circus arts stems largely from a desire to see the human body reach its maximum expressive potential for the purposes of storytelling whether that be through aerial apparatus work tumbling, stage combat, dance, clowning or—ideally—a combination of them all!

Julie Matolo

Julie (she/her) is a dancer, actress, stunt performer, choreographer, aerialist, dance instructor. She is based out of Chicago and California. Her artistic goals have led her to travel and perform all over the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and throughout Europe. Julie toured with the largest touring stunt show, “MARVEL Universe Live,” where she played, Agent Maria Hill, Black Cat and more. The world traveler also performed on Royal Caribbean as a dancer and as a featured aerialist. She considers The Joel Hall Dancers her longtime home dance company.

Additional concert dance company credits include; Andrea Kelly Dance Theater, Aerial Dance Chicago, The Kirby Reed Project, The Willingham Project, Corpo Dance, Duwane Pendarvis and Company, Dereque Withurs, Innervation Dance Cooperative.

Saydi Ogden

Saydi (she/her) is a dancer, aerialist, and gymnast from Joplin, Missouri. She began her training at age four, but was introduced to the aerial arts in 2013, training with Midwest Regional Ballet Company. There, she performed in many high intensity performances and attended a variety of workshops including those by William Henry, Cat Cogliandro, Caleb Brauner, The Legacy Dance Project, Mia Michaels, and Momix. She attended the intensive, Step It Up, in Los Angeles where she attended acting and theater workshops as well as a vast number of dance workshops all over the city. She is ecstatic to begin this opportunity to not only delve into areas that are familiar but also those that are complete strangers at The Actors Gymnasium’s Professional Training Program.

Brittany Royce

Brittany (she/her) has come to the Chicago from her hometown Springfield, MO. She got her start in acrobatics early in life as a competitive gymnast. After retiring from the sport, Brittany returned to the gym to teach. She became a recreational/competitive gymnastics instructor, coaching children of all ages for 7 years. While living in San Diego, California in 2014, Brittany stepped into the circus world for the first time and fell in love with aerial arts. Back in Missouri, she has been teaching and training aerial silks, trapeze, lyra, handstands, pole fitness, and tumbling at Springfield Aerial Fitness for over three years. She has performed acrobatics for music festivals, local music concerts, corporate events, and fundraisers. She is looking forward to expanding her performance abilities through The Actors Gymnasium pro training program.

Naomi Rusalka Cernota

Naomi (she/her) trained in Chicago with Bolshoi Ballet soloist Dmitri Roudnev, at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C., at Jacob’s Pillow in the Jazz/Musical Theatre Program as a scholarship student under the directorship of Chet Walker, and in New York with Broadway notables Jeff Shade, Chet Walker, and Rachelle Rak, and ballet superstar Gelsey Kirkland. After deferring her acceptance to The University of Chicago, Naomi studied biology at The City College of New York where she also worked as an undergraduate research technician in the Wallman Vision Research Laboratory. She completed eight production cast dance contracts for Norwegian Cruise Line from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean to Hawaii to Asia and Australia; three as Dance Captain and the featured Lady Luck/Shining Star in Tiger Martina’s VEGAS! THE SHOW. In 2018 Naomi completed the Power Pilates 600 hour Comprehensive Apparatus Training Program at their New York flagship studio, where she learned the classical method of Joseph Pilates from Jordana Herman, Stephanie West, and Lesly Levy. Naomi is so excited to be a part of the Pro Training Program at The Actors Gymnasium!
Performance Reel:

Emma Stonesmyth

Emma (she/her) is from Appleton, WI and recently moved to Chicago for the Pro Training program. She is driven by the physical connection between people and their environment (natural and human-made). She loves all forms of physical expression from dance to circus, but especially loves the drama in the physical extremes people can reach through circus. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Organismal Biology and Ecology from Colorado College where she had her first exposure to aerial arts. Over the course of college she trained in aerial silks, lyra, trapeze, and pole. Emma has performed in theater and in dance ensemble pieces and has training in Aikido. Her other interests include running, botany, and ecology. Emma is thrilled to be a part of the Pro Training Class of 2021 where she hopes to improve her skills in the language of emotive physical expression.

Katie Win

Katie (she/her) is a dancer taking a deep dive into the realm of circus! She received her BA in Dance Performance from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and set out to make all of her artistic and choreographic dreams come true. But when she was introduced to the cyr wheel, she found a new joy in merging her skills in dance with the wheel. Having just made the leap from North Carolina to Chicagoland, Katie plans on continuing this exploration and many others at the Actors Gym. 

Previous Classes


Stefan Brundage
David Chervony
Molly Hernandez
Kai Magee
Amma May
Jordan Reinwald
Arielle Rogers
Michele Stine
Sasha Vulovic
Erin Williams


Emily Butcher
Scott Dare
Jadan Eberly
Phillip George
Kelly Maryanski
Jack Olin
Jessica Pennachio
Ayana Strutz


Myriam Bloom
Jean Claudio
Athena Giles
Faye LaVerte
David Milo Mann
Sarah Moslen
Brittany Price Anderson
Nicole Thompson


Zoey Boyer
Joey Heyworth
Liz Loar
Arik Mendelevitz
Sympony Sanders
Cassi Schiano
Ashley Sylvester
Andrew Tardif