Sonya Smith - performance and collaboration
Sonya Smith 
aerial dance choreography and teaching
Master of Fine Arts in Dance, 
PMA-Certified Pilates Instructor, GYROKINESIS® Instructor

Upcoming Workshops

Bungee Immersion and Teacher Training

 June 25 – 29, 2018
(15 - 30 hours, 5 days)
Zaccho Studio // San Francisco, CA
Instructor – Sonya Smith

Bungee is enjoying a new surge in popularity amongst fitness enthusiasts, however creative aerial bungee experiments have been around since at least the 1980’s. This course has been designed with 15 hours of practical skill building for both immersion and teacher training students. The teacher training adds an additional 15 hours of technical information about gear, spotting and safety techniques, thoughtful skill progressions for working with a variety of skill levels, and a deeper exploration of strength needs for harness work.

Sonya Smith is an aerial and dance artist, teacher and researcher. The first to earn an MFA with an emphasis on Aerial Dance her bungee work has taken her across the country. With over 15 years teaching Pilates and functional movement, all her teaching is a balance between the creative and the scientific. This training will equip artists, enthusiasts and teachers with a technical understanding of bungee dance and its creative potential through clear articulation of pedagogy, biomechanical efficiency and safe practices.

- Experiential classes of bungee dance techniques and skills•
- Exposure to various harness/bungee arrangements
- Spotting techniques
- Harness technique physiology and functional anatomical training
- Identifying common problems and solutions in techniques
- Balancing improvisation and technique in teaching
- Working with individual learning styles
- 30hrs credit towards Born to Fly™ Aerial Instructor 

Sonya Smith is a Provider with Born to Fly™ - an aerial certificate program designed to support and build a network of qualified teachers. Upon completion of this 30hr training, participants will have the option to apply these hours as credit towards a Born to Fly™ certificate.
For more info visit:

No pre-requisites for the Bungee Dance Immersion.
For the Teacher Training 1 year experience in aerial technique (dance, circus, yoga

$400 - EARLY-BIRD PRICE (paid in full before April 15st)
$450 – Full cost after April 15st 
Teacher Training
$800 – EARLY-BIRD PRICE (paid in full before April 15st)
$850 – Full cost after April 15st 

- To apply for the Bungee Immersion please fill out this online form
- To apply for the Teacher Training please complete this form:
- No application video required. 

- Applicants will receive an email payment information.
- for information or questions please send a note through the form below.

I teach Private and group Pilates sessions from a base at Body Chemistry, 321 Valencia Street in San Francisco or The Working Body in Oakland. Contact me directly to arrange private sessions or check their website to register for classes.

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Bookable Workshops and Privates 

Aerial Dance 
Specializing in bungee, lyra, rope and harness, and trapeze for children and adults.

Teaching Philosophy

As a teacher my primary goals are to clearly communicate information with students that allow them to reconnect and discover the potential in their own bodies.  Naturally this is central to my dance technique teaching, but also informs my lecture philosophy. My emphasis on student participation in guiding the focus of a class, as well as in regular small group and participatory work draw on feminist teaching methods that place the teacher and student in a collaborative learning relationship. This transforms both the classroom and the studio into a space that demands and engages the whole person.

Technique courses offer a richer opportunity for both physical exploration and individual development.  Within the forms of Modern Dance (with an emphasis on release technique), Aerial Dance, Improvisation and Contact Improvisation I find the space to incorporate a deeper somatic and functional understanding of the moving body. My Pilates teaching practice, heavily influenced by my own experience with Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, and Gyrotonics, in turn influences my language choices, imagery, and movement development in technique classes. Outside of the dedicated improvisation classes, I incorporate improvisational structures as early in training as safely possible in order to enliven the individual student’s curiosity about their own movement potential. As a teacher I use language and demonstration to convey not just the outer shape of the movement, but also the inner sensation and initiations. This opens the door for students to take ownership of the felt experience of their dancing. Students respond to this kind of cuing with a deeper personal research that can be transformative.

My own training is a fusion of Release Technique, Contact Improvisation, Aerial Dance, circus aerial and acrobatics, Ballet, Contemporary Modern, Pilates and the above-mentioned somatic disciplines. This combination of training infuses all of my classes with a sense of cross training. The upper body strength critical to aerial dance also opens movement possibilities on the floor.  For example, my modern classes include balanced conditioning work that prepares the body for finding support in any range of motion.  Aerial Dance classes include Contact Improvisation to remind dancers to remain connected to the flow of movement both on the ground and in the air. All of this physical training is rooted in encouraging an awareness of breath, physical organization and articulation. My aerial and modern technique classes begin with a Qigong warm up, adopted from one of my teachers Sara Shelton Mann, that opens the body and breath to movement. A flowing conditioning and somatic warm-up follows. Technique exercises build into satisfying, momentum-based, organically logical phrase-work. I continue to challenge myself to incorporate more rhythmic variation and specificity into my teaching.

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