PORT HADLOCK — 12-year-old Satria McKnight makes whirling in midair look easy, like she’s just playing up there, listening to the music while frolicking in space on her hoop.
In fact, McKnight is among the students at the Pop-Up Movement gym — youngsters and adults who devote many hours to the discipline of circus arts. After finishing the August performance intensive, she and Pop-Up’s students and staff will appear in the first in-house shows this weekend.
Tickets are already sold out for Saturday’s performance, but they’re still available for Sunday’s 7 p.m. show at Pop-Up Movement, 11526 Rhody Drive. To reserve in advance or find more information, see pop-upmovement.
This is a big space, as in 3,300 square feet, said Shawn Kellogg, half of the duo who opened the gym in February. It has ample room for trapeze, acrobatics, juggling and aerial arts with hoops, straps and fabrics — all of which are part of this weekend’s shows.
Kellogg and his partner Sadie LeDonna have been studying and performing circus arts in cities across North America for more than a decade.
Before the pandemic, they were living on Vashon Island and working at the nonprofit Unidentified Moving Objects School of Physical Arts, where they helped create the curriculum that became the school’s aerial and circus gymnastics programming.
In the wake of the shutdowns of 2020, the pair decided to move back home to Jefferson County and start something new.
Pop-Up Movement is “a pandemic project,” said LeDonna, one that has expanded and gained velocity.
She and Kellogg started out as a kind of mobile unit, doing pop-up performances. Then they found the large, high-ceilinged building in Port Hadlock.
A circus school was born.
On Thursday morning, LeDonna led four of her young students in a run-through of their performance.
“Take your time,” she told the girls, as each one lifted herself high.
McKnight spun and flew on her hoop, and Lucie O’Neil Osborne, Elan Nollette and Anora Kuzma, all 11, took their turns, ascending and descending on a long length of red silken fabric.
To complete the run-through, adult student Angela Ferrier climbed, with her bare hands, toward the ceiling on a thick rope, expertly turning her body to and fro.
In their gym and in school presentations, LeDonna and Kellogg offer movement arts beyond the performing kind. A certified structural integration practitioner, Kellogg has studied kinesiology at the Pacific Center for Awareness and Bodywork as well as with Anatomy Trains Structural Integration. He’s also an ongoing student of the neuroscience of pain and of ways to optimize physical performance.
As a circus artist, Kellogg trained at Ecole de Cirque de Quebec in Canada, at the San Francisco Circus Center and with Cirque du Soleil’s social circus training company, Cirque du Monde.
A specialist in hand balancing, ground acrobatics and juggling, he’s toured with the New Old Time Chautauqua, the Pacific Northwest’s traveling troupe of entertainers and teachers.
LeDonna, an aerialist, acrobat and clown since she was a teenager, made her debut on the aerial hoop in a New Old Time Chautauqua show. Her training since has taken her to schools in San Francisco, Seattle, Vermont and Quebec City, and she, too, has studied with Cirque du Soleil.
Now that Kellogg and LeDonna have established their own school, they’d like to grow a bit. Already their students range in age from 5 through adult; LeDonna said they hope to add classes for ages 3 to 5.
For this duo, movement arts are a non-competitive way to become fit, and not just physically. As their joint mission statement says: Pop-Up Movement is a pursuit of “self-connection, communication skills, and joy.”