Finding Helix – Informal Showing


Finding Helix

When you lose a part of yourself and then find it but it was changed and grown and this makes it uncomfortable, wonderful, and scary. “Finding Helix” is A quirky look at connection within self and with others.

This is an informal studio showing (no lights and costumes) with a chat with the creators afterward.

DANCERS/COCREATORS: Luke Anderson and Jayeden Walker


MUSIC: Cheryl Ockrant

TICKETS: $10 (the audience will be masked)

TRAILER: Coming soon


DATE: Sunday, March 19

Doors open at 4:00 pm
The show starts at 4:30

Redwood Theatre
1300 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L 1Y7
Please see access info for descriptions of the level of wheelchair accessibility.


Luke Anderson (he/him/his) has a background in civil engineering which helped him foster a respect for the importance of quantitative science in our external world and it’s part in helping create an environmentally and socially healthy planet. In 2015 he left his structural engineering gig and took on the role of Executive Director of Toronto’s StopGap Foundation, which he co-founded, working with communities across the country to raise awareness about the importance of accessibility, inclusion, and barrier-free spaces. That same year he was introduced to the world of Contact Improvisation and soon developed a deep respect and interest in the somatic realms of our qualitative human experience. Luke identifies as someone living with a profound physical disability and uses a wheelchair to aid his mobility. Luke’s lived experience working with and gaining wisdom from his own physical and emotional pain, encounters with systemic inequity for people with disabilities, and personal suffering fuels his desire to contribute to the well being of various communities including the Toronto Contact Improvisation community. Finding joy, weirdness, mystery, and massive amounts of hilarity are some of Luke’s personal and professional daily intentions. Luke’s movement practice at home and at jams incorporates a playful mix of his passions for dance, nonviolent communication, focusing, harmonica, and didgeridoo virtuosic aspirations.

Jayeden Walker (she/her) is a queer neurodivergent circus artist with a specialty in aerial arts. She has been performing circus for over a decade in both corporate and creative settings, finding contact dance in 2019. Healing from a series of traumatic brain injuries guided Jayeden to shift her focus toward creating inclusive, trauma-informed movement spaces and disability arts. Her most recent act, Pirate Tails, has toured a number of pride festivals and was recently shown at the Harbourfront CoMotion Festival for Deaf and Disability arts. Jayeden currently lives, plays, and creates as a white treaty inhabitant in Toronto where she runs recreational circus classes and social circus programming for Queer and Trans youth.

Toronto cellist Cheryl O (she/her) is a dedicated multi-media collaborator blending her acoustic and electronic improvisations with live theatre, dance, lm, circus arts, text, poetry, painting, and electronica. She is a regular performer at Contact Dance as well as working on sound for lm, dance, and theatre. Cheryl is currently in the last semester of her Masters in Musicology at York University, focusing her research on free improvisation post-trauma through a lens of Polyvagal Theory. Her thesis is on creating new neural pathways to creatively move forward from trauma, backed by both science-based research and own traumatic experience in music educationCheryl works from her off-grid Tiny House studio in a secret location. She has two rescue cats, both black

All current COVID Gov’t protocols will be followed.

Masking is required by the audience.

Performers will be unasked and will do a Rapid COVID test prior to performing

All levels of vaccination or non-vaccination are welcome.

There will be HEPA filters on the location


The address is 1300 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L 1Y7

The nearest intersection is Greenwood and Gerrard.

The building is accessible by bus from Greenwood station, as well as the 506 College/Gerrard streetcar.

There is street parking available as well as bike lockups in the surrounding neighborhood.

It can be hard to stop on Gerrard street directly, so for easier drop-offs, we suggest turning onto Redwood Ave (a one-way street going North) and getting dropped off next to the building.

The building is accessible by bus from Greenwood station, as well as the 506 College/Gerrard streetcar. Greenwood station is only barrier free at the street level and is not accessible by subway. The nearest accessible subway is Coxwell Station.

The Building:
The entrance to the building is off the sidewalk, a set of double doors, that open manually (no push button).

There is no lip on the door. There is a moderately steep ramp from the entrance into the main space. It goes up from the street level, and then back down into the main space, at a grade that is not to code and has no railings. Wheelchair users may need physical assistance to go up this ramp. The main space is level. The floors are a mix of concrete and wooden dance floor.

The space is lit with overhead track lighting, with minimal windows. It does have air conditioning and an updated H-Vac system for air filtration.

There is a single-user washroom on the main space floor.

The washroom has enough space for a manual wheelchair but would be too small for a powerchair user to turn around comfortably. There is no automatic door opener there is a grab bar, but the placement isn’t great. Handles to the bathroom door were knobs not levers. The faucet may pose access barriers to folks with limited mobility as it needs sustained pressure to function.

ASL of audio description:
There is no ASL or audio description as we do not have the funds to supply these. Please note there is no speech in the dance work.

Toronto Arts Council
Ontario Arts Council,
Canadian Heritage Foundation 


Should You Buy Aerial Silks for Your Kid?

Leading up to the winter holidays, I usually get a few emails from parents asking where they can buy their kids or teens one of those “fabric thingies” that they hang off in circus class. These are my favourite parents, the ones who ask a coaches’ opinion before purchasing professional aerial equipment that’s going to encourage their kids to hang off trees and teach their friends.

Because make no mistake, having access to a silk of their own will encourage your child to go hang it off of random structures.

How do I know? From lived experience. 

In 2012 at the age of 15 I bought my first aerial silk. She’s a bright coral beauty that I’ve performed on many times and still use today. At the time I was training at The Circus Company then known as Aerial Silks Collingwood. We were a small gym with about three very thin silks to learn on. Kristin, who ran the circus classes was ordering more fabric for the gym, and asked us if we wanted to add our very own silks to the order. I was ecstatic, and couldn’t think of a better way to use the money I had saved from my job at the vet clinic. 

The first time we hung our new silks, I climbed all the way up to the gym ceiling and stayed there for a very very long time. I swore I would never come down, but eventually my foot went numb and I was forced to concede to gravity. It was amazing to be able to take classes and practice routines on my very own aerial silk.

My first performance on her was spectacular. 

A young white teenager is suspended upside down on two pieces of pink aerial fabric. She is beaming.

I was utterly filled with joy to be able to do what I loved, on a silk of my very own, in front of hundreds of people. 

A young white woman slides down long pink aerial fabric. Behind her there is a photographer and a large crowd of people.

Having my own silk also encouraged me to learn about rigging—that’s how we hang things up in circus. It got me thinking about forces and loads and structural capacities (AKA looking at every ceiling everywhere and asking myself “could I hang from that”). I started learning about the kind of gear that you need to be using if your hanging your weight off of something; hint: it should have a kN rating or WLL before you even consider using it as circus gear. I took courses with rescue professionals and learned how to tie knots in spansets, practicing them at the gym around balance beams and at home around the kitchen table legs. I was mentored by our rigger and shadowed the other professionals I was working with when we set up for performances. I talked to climbers and read books by circus rigging professionals. I joined a Facebook group called “Safety in Aerial Arts” which featured a lot of critiques from industry professionals about sketchy setups, bad choices, and what NOT to do (though there was a lot of useful learning there too). I’ve taken some seminars with Brett Copes from Fight or Flight Entertainment who’s rigged for companies like Marvel Universe Live and Cirque du Soleil. All of this learning before I had even turned 18! Of course, I’ve continued with my education since then, always asking a million questions whenever people will answer them. But all of that is to say that in my first few years of owning silks I absorbed a lot of information on safety and best practices, and had a pretty great support team of people to practice under. 

And, I still took my silk out on “field trips” to hang off of structures outside of the gym. 

Two white teenage girls hang upside down on fabric draped over a swingset.

Granted, many of those were fairly reasonable well thought out adventures with a safety analysis, rigging plan, and at least one other circus person on site—sometimes even a consult with a rigger. A lot of those decisions I still stand by today (bridges are incredibly structurally sound for circusing purposes ). 

A young white woman hangs on pink aerial fabric over a calm stream. She is looking into the distance.

And I’ve collected some fantastic stories! Like the time that I went with one of my circus sisters and hung off a bridge in the town that I lived in. I had dreamed about it for months, drawn up a rigging plan, and even cross checked things with a rigging professional. Super safe teenage shenanigans—even if they did involve scaling a bridge and suspending ourselves above moving water. 

A young white woman is suspended over a calm river hanging off of two pink pieces of aerial fabric.

What we didn’t account for however, was the dam above the bridge opening up and soaking the bottom of our silks while we were on them! Or the middle aged woman who was concerned about our teenage shenanigans and loudly proclaimed that she was thinking of calling the cops on us. Luckily we don’t know if that ever went through because we united all of our knots and hightailed it out of there on our biked with the wet silks dripping from our backpacks.

A young white woman hangs suspended over a rushing river on two pieces of pink aerial fabric. Despite the chaos of the water, she appears relaxed.

While I stand by that adventure, and love the story of it. I’ve also done some more questionable things with my silks. Like for example hanging of trees. And not just hanging off trees, trying doubles work that involved my friend hanging off my arms while I was suspended upside down on the silks, with only patio furniture cushions as mats. (And yes I absolutely dropped her while she was upside down. She’s fine now, but that was definitely an avoidable mishap). 

A young white woman peeks out from within a hammock of pink aerial fabric. She looks happy. Behind her is a shed, the photo appears to be taken in a backyard. Underneath her there is nothing but a blanket.

I’ve also, in particularly questionable circumstances, done a double salto drop on a tree branch that had a rope slung over it. A setup I knew nothing about at the time and simply trusted the person who had set it up and their knowledge of rigging. Now if you’re not already aware, rigging on trees is really risky because there’s no way of knowing the health of the branch that you’re hanging off of (unless you cut it down). But doing drops on trees is generating an unnecessary amount of force and putting yourself and the tree in an absurd amount of risk. As a well educated professional, I definitely knew that it was a risky move when I did it. But to be honest, I probably went ahead with it because I was new to Toronto, I wanted to make friends, and I was seventeen and believed myself invincible.

In one particular circumstance of doing silks in the park I learned (after being on the fabric) that the point had been improperly tied off and I hadn’t been securely anchored on a closed system while I was in the air. Thank my guardian angels that nothing had happened, but it scares me to think of how that could have gone otherwise. And for the record here, I had all the tools to have known better and understand that this was a risky and unnecessarily dangerous move.

All of this to say, I suppose, that if you’re thinking of gifting your kid their very own aerial fabric, there’s a lot of stuff that comes along with it. Chances are that most youth won’t have access to the learning opportunities that I did when I was fifteen and sixteen, or the countless hours of mentorship to get hands on rigging experience. But what I’m sure they will have is the desire to hang off of anything and everything that they could possibly climb or throw a rope over.

Having your own circus equipment can be an absolute joy, and it lets you develop as an artist with consideration to the specifics of an apparatus that is yours and no one else’s. It’s truly special. And, if you’re only going to be hanging it up in a circus gym or studio it can be relatively safe as well. 

But, if you’re considering aerial silks as a gift (or any other aerial equipment). Make sure that you’re prepared to have an open and ongoing dialogue about safety and the appropriate places to “hang out” with this new friend (which absolutely does not include trees). And if you’re considering an at home circus set up? Well, that’s a whole other bucket of peanuts to talk about!

Hugs and sparkles!