Coaches & Staff

 Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2016.

Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2016.

Daniel Parks

(Owner, Technical Director)

Daniel Parks was born and raised in KCMO before attending University of Central Missouri to receive a B.F.A. in Technical Theatre. During that time he was twice a finalist for the Barbizon Award for Excellence in Lighting Design for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Daniel was a Stage Crew apprentice for the ‘05 and ‘06 seasons at Santa Fe Opera. Locally, he has been both a lighting designer and production manager for Seamless Dance Theatre since 2006, Quixotic Fusion since 2007, and Lucia Aerial since 2013. He has designed and/or operated shows across the United States and internationally including the TED stage, Costa Rica, Canada, and Bahrain. Daniel collaborated closely with artist Lisa Lala on ‘LIT’, a formal gallery show featuring custom LED art portals. He was previously the Assistant Technical Director at KU’s Lied Center for the 2013 and 2014 seasons before now operating his own production company offering production services and lighting equipment rentals. Daniel began taking aerial classes in 2012 and has loved resuming training for duo trapeze in addition to rope and static trapeze.

 Photo by Spencer Studios, 2017.

Photo by Spencer Studios, 2017.

Elena Sherman

(Studio Manager, Coach, Aerialist)
(Lyra Head Coach)

Growing up, though she loved the idea of acting, Elena found herself gravitating behind the stage, especially in college where she worked on the technical stage crew at the Lied Center of Kansas learning everything it takes to put on full-scale Broadway productions to intimate lecture series.

Elena’s passion for aerial & circus arts started after she began working full-time as a fitness User Experience Designer while researching fitness trends. She started taking a lyra class and hasn’t gotten off the hoop since. Realizing aerial & circus arts are the perfect combination of all her interests (design, artistic & physical expression, stage production, fitness) she began apprenticing at the Quixotic School of Performing Arts in 2012 and later became a founding member of Lucia Aerial Performing Arts. She moved to Portland in 2015 where she continued developing as a circus artist at Pendulum Aerial Arts, The Circus Project, and Night Flight Aerial. She returned to Kansas City in 2017 and has been delighted to take on her new role as studio manager.

In her free time, Elena enjoys seeking out new ways to move and express herself, including partner acrobatics, flying trapeze, tumbling, and swimming. She fully embraces living life both on and behind the stage.

Elena is available for private instruction in Lyra, Straps, Trapeze, Aerial Partnering, Aerial Yoga, Conditioning, and Act Development.


Kelsey Aicher

(Training Company Program Director, Coach, Aerialist)
(Trapeze Head Coach)

Kelsey Aicher is an aerial performer and instructor foremerly based in Portland, Oregon. She has studied static trapeze since 2011, working primarily with coaches Daniela Steiner (Do Jump!, Sweet Can Circus) and Rachel Walker (Cirque du Soleil). Kelsey has also studied aerial ladder, duo trapeze, dance trapeze, lyra, silks, and partner acrobatics. She has been performing professionally since 2013 with companies such as Prismagic, Night Flight Aerial, Do Jump!, and Sir Cupcake's Queer Circus and was selected to perform in the 2015 Denver Aerial Acrobatics Festival Competition Show. Kelsey has been an instructor of various circus arts since 2012, coaching at Night Flight Aerial, Echo Theater Company, and The Circus Project in Portland. Her emphases are clean technique, dynamic movement, and creative solutions.

Kelsey is available for private instruction in Trapeze, Duo Trapeze, Partner Acrobatics, Partner Aerial, Silks, Conditioning, and Act Development.


Gwen O'Brien

(Youth Program Director, Social Media, Coach)
(Ground Head Coach)

Gwenyth (Gwen) fell in love with the circus at age four. Although, it would take her another twelve years of rhythmic gymnastics, vocal performance, and competitive writing before she stumbled upon her first trapeze bar. Gwen’s training began in Portland, Oregon primarily at DoJump! Extremely Physical Theater and The Circus Project. During her time within these Northwest organizations, Gwen received training in Chinese pole, partner acrobatics, hand-balancing, contortion, aerial silks, aerial straps, corde lisse, and duo trapeze.

Gwen has been teaching movement-based art since 2013. Her teaching style emphasizes developing sustainable movement patterns, theatrical presentation, and independence in the air. When not in the air herself, you can find Gwen teaching her favorite youth classes, running outside, or enjoying a good book.

Gwen is available for private lessons in Silks, Trapeze, Flexibility/Contortion, Handbalancing, Partner Acrobatics, and Conditioning.


Samantha Davis

(PR/Marketing, Coach, Aerialist)
(Silks Head Coach)

Samantha was raised by a Kentucky family in St. Louis and grew up a dancer. She received a Journalism degree from KU and only learned of aerial arts while nomading in Thailand after graduation. Since returning in 2014, she began her aerial training with Lilly Steele and has relocated to Kansas City to remove the distance from her long-distance relationship. She is going on her third year here and has dove into the happenings here at Lucia/KCAA, graduating from student to Performing Apprentice to Coach. Samantha primarily trains on the silks but has dabbled in rope and hammock as well. Her next goals are to improve her skills on the lyra and in her choreography.

Samantha is available for private lesson in Silks and Act Development


Melissa Jeanette

(Coach, Apprentice Company)

Melissa was introduced to aerial silks in 2014 in Columbia, Missouri when her gym started offering a beginner class and instantly fell in love with the unique art form and its challenging nature. Her background in gymnastics and choreography, interest in performance art, and dedication to training and lifting outside of the aerial studio enabled her to build up the strength, stamina and flexibility required for aerial arts. She performed in her first showcase less than a year after starting her aerial journey and, after obtaining her personal training certification, was able to begin teaching aerial silks classes in order to help grow the aerial community in Columbia. Melissa helped to run CoMo Aerial Arts, a small, but growing aerial organization, for the remainder of her time in Columbia. She performed professionally with CoMo Aerial Arts until her move to Blue Springs, Missouri in the summer of 2017 when she found Lucia Aerial Performing Arts. She auditioned on a whim and was lucky enough to begin apprenticing at Lucia/KCAA soon after.

Outside of the studio, Melissa is a Graphic Designer and enjoys spending her free time with pug Charlie and friends.

Melissa is available for private instruction in Silks and Conditioning.

 Photo by 53Tom, 2013.

Photo by 53Tom, 2013.

Georgeanna Layton

(Coach, Aerialist)

Georgeanna Layton initially began studying Aerial Silks in 2009 with Voler Aerial Arts. She has knowledge and performance experience in Lyra, Spanish Web and a variety of custom apparatuses but is most passionate and now excels in Tissu (Silks) and Corde Lisse (Rope). Georgeanna was born and raised in Joplin, Mo. with and early background in gymnastics. She graduated from The Bauder School of design which at the time was located in Miami Fl. Georgeanna was ahead of her times and developed anti-bullying and youth community building programs in response to what she saw as a growing problem in 2000. Georgeanna has been a founding member of two performance companies, but is most proud of her work with Lucia Performing Arts. Within the company she finds great satisfaction in being part of the whole creative process from studying dance, choreographing for herself and others as well as performing group and solo pieces. Believing that creativity, like most things is enhanced by a challenge, Georgeanna has recently begun training in aerial straps. When not in the air, this grandmother spends her time keeping up with her granddaughters Kaiea, Noraleigh, and Aster.

Georgeanna is available for private instruction in Silks, Rope, Conditioning, and Act Development.

 Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2015.

Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2015.

Kelly Payton

(Coach, Apprentice Company)

Kelly grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and attended the University of Kansas where she received her Bachelors of Music Education. Following her passion for music, Kelly teaches Orchestra in the Olathe School District. Her primary instrument is the violin which she has played most of her life.

Loving both music and athletic pursuits equally, Kelly has dabbled in gymnastics and other various sports and training. Nothing "stuck" until she discovered Lucia Aerial in January of 2014. Kelly was hooked after taking a trapeze class on a dare and finally happily landed on aerial silks. She is currently progressing on corde lisse in addition to silks. Kelly was thrilled to join Lucia Aerial's performance company in February of 2015.

When she isn't teaching, playing the violin, or upside down in the air, Kelly loves working with animals, traveling, and inspiring others to work hard for what they love.

Kelly is available for private instruction in Silks.


Littany Supka

(Coach, Apprentice Company)

Littany began her aerial lifestyle on a whim in 2013 while living in San Francisco - in the spirit of making the most of the city, she began training flying and static trapeze as well as trampoline at the Circus Center. She had the good fortune to learn static trapeze essentials from the great Elena Panova and she has carried that dedication to correct form and technique with her and has helped her become the performer and coach she is today.

Additionally, Littany's background includes training in competitive cheerleading and gymnastics during her youth, a BFA with a focus in textile design from the University of Michigan, years of coaching high school cheerleading and youth gymnastics, and many relocations and road trips across the country over the years. She moved to Kansas City in the Fall of 2015 and began her training on dance and static trapeze at Lucia in January of 2016. She auditioned for the Performance Company in January 2017 and has been a part of the Apprentice Program since the Summer of 2017. While her main love is trapeze, she also enjoys training hammock and lyra and working on duo acts.

 Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2015.

Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2015.

Ariana Ferber-Carter

(Contortionist, Aerialist, Coach)

Ariana Ferber-Carter resolved to become a circus performer when she was six years old. She studied gymnastics, aerial arts, partner acrobatics, handstands, trampoline, and contortion during her six summers on tour with Circus Smirkus. She developed a love for balancing and bending and has specialized in contortion for her adult life. Her professional credits include Circus Bella, Cirque Imagination, and Celebrity Cruises Production Cast - Specialty Act. She is a recent recruit to the Kansas City circus community where she works for Lucia Aerial Arts and founded Pareidolia Contortion with her circus partner, Liv Morrow.

Ariana is available for private lessons in Contortion/Flexibility, Handbalancing, Trapeze, Lyra, and Act Development.

 Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2015.

Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2015.

Liv Morrow

(Contortionist, Aerialist, Coach)

Liv Morrow is a contortionist and aerial performer/ instructor from Tennessee. She began dance and gymnastic classes at four years old, and by the age of eight realized her inclination toward contortion and performing. Halfway through her Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts at East Tennessee State University, Liv was awarded an apprenticeship at Firefly Aerial Dance (now Circus Warehouse). After graduating from ETSU in 2008, she moved to join Pendulum Dance Theatre in Portland, Oregon. Pendulum provided coaches such as world-renowned Mongolian contortionist Tsengelmaa Byambadorj and rhythmic gymnastics coach/ Cirque du Soleil choreographer Alixa Sutton. Liv relocated to Kansas City in 2011, and has performed and taught with Quixotic and Lucia. She has toured with Aerial Experience Productions, spent 4 months performing full time for the World Expo in Yeosu South Korea, and worked abroad with Celebrity Cruises.

To learn more about Liv, visit her website:

Liv is available for private instruction in Contortion/Flexibility, Handbalancing, Silks, Lyra, Straps, and Act Development.


Ann Shaughnessy

(Dancer, Choreographer, Assitant Coach)

Ann received a BFA from UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance with a focus in Modern in 2002. She has supplemented her training by taking workshops and intensives in New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and here in Kansas City. She performed with City in Motion Dance Theater for eight seasons, and also with Dramatic Truth Dance Theater, aha! dance, Reach...a movement collective, and Gurukul Dance. She has over 20 years experience of teaching dance to all ages and in a variety of styles including Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Swing, and Creative Movement. She has taught at UMKC, Metropolitan Community Colleges, Kansas City Ballet School and Studio Division, City in Motion, Kansas City Young Audiences, Community Music and Dance Academy, and at several other local dance studios. Ann's choreography has been performed at concerts produced by UMKC dance and opera divisions, City in Motion, a-ha! dance, Reach...a movement collective, and at recitals and competitions associated with the dance studios she has taught at.

Ann is available for private instruction in Dance.

 Photo by Brandon Waldrop, 2013.

Photo by Brandon Waldrop, 2013.

Jenny Prohaska


Jenny Prohaska founded Lucia Aerial Performing Arts in the summer of 2013. Jenny is especially passionate about teaching absolute beginners, setting goals, guiding their progression and confidence through intermediate studies, and then ultimately working with advanced students to help them create and express themselves through choreography. She has a strong background in static and dance trapeze, aerial silks, lyra, and act development. She is enthusiastic about teaching healthy lifestyles and behaviors to adults and children of all ages and finds teaching aerial a rewarding and inspiring experience. She teaches Beginner through Advanced levels of Trapeze and Lyra as well as Act Development and Aerial Conditioning.

Jenny was born and raised in Leawood, Kansas and her background prior to aerial arts included performing/competing internationally in many disciplines such as competitive cheerleading, dance, and theater. Outside of Lucia Aerial, Jenny has her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas, where she specialized in preventative health and neuropsychology. She currently works as a forensic and police psychologist by day, and an aerial instructor and performer by night! She has recently received several awards for contributions to the Kansas City business and arts community, including the 2015 KC Influential Woman Award and was named a 2015 Rising Star in KC Business.

Jenny is available for private instruction in Trapeze, Lyra, Silks, Conditioning, and Act Development.

 Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2015.

Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2015.

Alyss Puhr

(Assistant Coach, Production Team)

Alyss Puhr was born and raised in Indianapolis before relocating to Kansas City about six years ago. She was a competitive gymnast for over 15 years before she attended Purdue University earning a degree in Construction Engineering. After three years as a rock climbing hobbyist, Alyss and her now husband Russ tried an Intro class in November 2012 and fell in love [he actually proposed while on the trapeze]. Well versed in trapeze and duo trapeze, a year ago she resumed training and performing on Lyra. During the day, Alyss is an Estimator for a prominent Construction group where she has also worked on outreach programs exposing hundreds of high school girls to STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] careers. When she and Russ are not at then studio, they live in Quality Hill with four kitties and are most likely planning their next Disney adventure.

 Photo by Alyss Puhr, 2016.

Photo by Alyss Puhr, 2016.

Russ Puhr

(Assistant Coach, Production Team)

 Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2016.

Photo by Brent Holzapfel, 2016.

Nicky Purtle

(Assistant Coach)

Born and raised in Lee's Summit, Nicky has always loved performing. She cheered for fun and competitively for 10 years, dabbled in theater, took boxing classes and started exploring hip hop dance before a coworker convinced her to try an aerial silks class. She was hooked after her first class, practicing the new knots on bedsheets when she wasn't at the studio. A few months later she took a trapeze workshop and fell in love all over. Four years later, she performs silks and trapeze with Lucia's Performance Company and loves teaching and helping others learn what they are capable of through aerial arts.

She proudly calls Kansas City, Missouri, home, and loves exploring the city and hanging out with her best friend, her pepetual puppy Lucy.