top of page
Microgrant Banner Crop.jpg




The CSAW Microgrants for US Circus Artists of Color Program was launched in September of 2020 when CSAW became an official non-profit.

CSAW Microgrants for US Circus Artists of Color are monthly $1,000 grants which are available to BIPOC artists to help fund ANY immediate circus related need. The intention of the program is to provide an easy application and no-strings attached grant for individuals in need of assistance with their circus pursuits - performing, learning, teaching, costuming, equipment or any other funding need that qualifies as circus.

CSAW's Microgrant Program was founded upon the recognition that people of color have historically not been given the same opportunities as white people to fully pursue circus. This program strives to provide BIPOC circus artists with more opportunities and more abundance in order to promote and achieve a more inclusive circus industry.

Since 2020, CSAW has awarded over $30,000 through the Microgrant Program. To date, the program has been funded by crowdfunding among the circus community.


Please review the following before applying:​


This application opens on the first of every month and close on the 15th of every month at 11:59pm EST. All Microgrant applicants will be notified of their status on or before the first of the next month. 



CSAW is committed to making this application as accessible as possible. For this reason, if you would rather record yourself answering the application questions instead of providing written answers, you may upload LINKS of your videos doing so. We ask that you please do not provide both written and recorded responses. You may either respond via text, audio recording, or video. Applicants who provide more than one format will not be given special consideration. *If you choose to record responses rather than write them, please be sure to link your video(s) under each question so that your application does not appear blank. It is also helpful to indicate timestamps of your video answers to the corresponding question when applicable.


To be eligible to apply for a CSAW Microgrant for U.S. Circus Artists of Color you must identify as a person of color who is a citizen, resident alien, or permanent resident of the United States looking to fund their circus related projects, education, or needs.


For this Microgrant program, CSAW will be following a broad definition of Circus Artists of Color which encompasses all who identify in part or in whole as non-white persons. 


You may apply as an individual on behalf of an organization or company, but please be sure you indicate that you are doing so in the specified portion of the application and submit your budget proposal accordingly. If you are a parent, guardian or adult applying on behalf of multiple children, please list all of their names and do your best to submit materials for each of them. If you have questions or concerns about this, please email    


The CSAW Microgrant for U.S. Circus Artists of Color is open for all applicants of all ages. However, if you are under the age of 18, you must have a parent, guardian or adult helper sign the terms and conditions found at the end of this application on your behalf. 


A Microgrant may be used to pay for circus-related expenses, including but not limited to: recreational circus classes, travel and housing accommodations for auditions, application fees, tuition payments, equipment, props, private lessons, show creation, venue fees, and other circus educational or project related fees.


Microgrant recipients will demonstrate an authentic, circus-related funding need and possess any number of qualities, characteristics, or attributes such as drive, determination, ambition, dedication, commitment or skill. (These qualities will be determined and evaluated by the selection committee.) Please be aware that one of the most prominent criteria for receiving a Microgrant is that you demonstrate an “immediate” need for funding. For example, if you are applying for a funding need in the month of December, try to apply as close to the month of December as possible as those who can demonstrate an immediate need for a Microgrant may be considered ahead of those who cannot. 




Water for Elephants

Sponsoring a large portion of the 2024 CSAW Microgrant Program

WFE_KA_1x1 (1).jpg


CSAW is still actively looking for sponsors to help us be able to guarantee the rest of the 2024 Microgrant Program and our Tuition Grant Program. 

You could join these amazing organizations by sponsoring CSAW today! Email and let's talk about how you can support more funding for BIPOC artists! Sponsorships of any amount are welcome. 


April 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Coming Soon


March 2024 Microgrant Recipient - Olayinka Babalola

IMG-20231130-WA0007 (2).jpg

Olayinka is a dedicated contortionist and handstand enthusiast driven by a lifelong passion for performance. Her journey into contortion began in 2018, sparked by a deep love for the art. Under the guidance of her coaches, she has continuously honed her contortion skills, pushing herself to new heights of flexibility and strength.

Before discovering contortion, Olayinka struggled to find her place in the competitive sports realm. However, the transformative power of circus has not only elevated her physical abilities but also played a crucial role in boosting her self-worth and self-esteem. For Olayinka, contortion training is more than just a physical pursuit—it is a source of purpose and fulfillment, driving her to pursue her dreams with passion and determination

Olayinka will used her Microgrant funds to take online contortion and handstand classes, focusing on enhancing her back flexibility, shoulder flexibility and strength, and hip flexor flexibility. Additionally, she plans to invest in a prop that will complement her training.

The March 2024 Microgrant was sponsored by CNRG Accounting Advisory, LLC. 

February 2024 Microgrant Recipient - Monica Martelly

Headshot Cropped (2).jpeg

Monica is an emerging Haitian-American movement artist whose passion is as vibrant as their hair. With over 20 years of international movement training and the support of several important mentors, they specialize in aerial hoop and a variety of dances. They have performed across the Southeast of the US, including with the Crux Collective, Celestial Cabaret, The Inverted Circus, and Dance Canvas.

They used their Microgrant to fund the debut of Monica's new solo aerial hoop act, an unprecedented concept act blending Haitian folklore and aerial hoop, at the Vegas International Variety Acts (VIVA) Festival. The travel costs associated with this competition, including flight tickets, oversized check baggage costs for transporting their aerial hoop, and lodging costs for the duration of the competition, will all be covered by the Microgrant. Monica also plans to use the rest of the Microgrant to cover the registration cost for their Emerging Pro Aerial Hoop Solo.


December 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Sharon Miller

IMG_0009 (1).jpg

Sharon is a circus artist who has traveled the world performing and coaching for over 13 years. She started her aerial education as a part of a government program in her native Mexico City. Some years later in the US, she went on to learn German Wheel as her second and now main discipline. This gave her the opportunity to expand her expertise as she has now competed twice in the world championships as the first woman to represent Mexico in this category.

Beside performing on big stages and coaching at circus schools around the world, Sharon has had the opportunity to work in the social circus field including children’s hospitals bringing coming relief to sick children, as well as teaching circus skills to communities at risk and with high vulnerability.

One of Sharon’s main goals is to bring the joy of circus to as many people as possible because she understands the power of the arts and how being represented can be a very big positive influence on minority populations especially at a young age.

Sharon will be used Microgrant funds to update/ better everything related to her act from upgrading things in her wheel, to getting a new costume and trying different things. This will include trying out LED lights & paying for private classes with a coach in Chicago.

November 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Kiana Pieters

KP Headshot (2).jpg

With Dutch-Indonesian and Canadian roots, Kiana was born and lived in Mexico till she moved to the U.S. at 17. She has always loved movement, music, storytelling, dancing, and most of all—flying.

After graduating from college in 2021, she decided to move to Charlotte, NC to pursue her crazy childhood dream of “running away to join the circus.” She’s been learning, training, coaching, and performing ever since. Kiana loves bringing awe and joy to those around her, and seeks to inspire and encourage others to pursue their dreams and live life to the fullest. Whether she’s creating an act in the air, rolling around on a German Wheel, writing and playing music, or encouraging her students and peers, she hopes to share light and life with others and enjoy the journey with them.

Kiana used the Microgrant to fund intensive training in German Wheel, Cyr Wheel, and Aerial Fabric at the New England Center for Circus Arts . She’s moving to Vermont at the end of Dec ‘23, and she’s excited to take her training to the next level as she aspires to continue performing and sharing hope, light, and inspiration with those around her!

October 2023 Microgrant Recipient -  Ari Salaam

headshotcolorC - bw (1).jpg

Ari Salaam (they/them), Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Aromatherapist, Hatha Yoga Instructor: Once upon a time, Ari was chillaxin' on the moon sippin' a dirty Chai with their pet Unicorn Marshmallow. Feeling bored, Ari decided to visit Earth, sharing their language of rhythm and dance to heal and nurture our souls. Fast forward.... for over 10yrs Ari has choreographed, performed, instructed, managed studios, and hosted mental-health workshops. Credits include: Dance Spirit Magazine - NYC, Lincoln Center - NYC, Calabar Festival - Nigeria, and Kilifi New Years Festival - Kenya.

In September of 2023, Ari founded ANKOLE: a Circus Arts and Healing non-profit organization servicing the Intersex and Gender-Affirming Community. As a strong advocate for the Queer BIPOC community, Ari's Circus classes and solo performances combine elements of self-love, empowerment and social justice. Oh and don't worry, Marshmallow is living their best life at a 5-star hotel until Ari returns :)

Ari will used their Microgrant funds to cover start-up costs for ANKOLE including purchasing a website and domain, aerial apparatuses and rigging equipment (ie. 1 Lyra,1 Silks), and 3 months worth of studio rental space to host classes. Classes will cater to the Intersex and Gender-Affirming community who are searching for a safe space and an instructor who by personal experience understands their wants and needs.

September 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Alexis Pulliam

Alexis Pulliam_Headshot.JPG

Alexis primarily trains and performs contortion and handbalancing under world-renowned professional contortionists Gana Oyunchimeg and Serchmaa Byamba. Although contortion is her primary discipline, Alexis is one of the only, to her knowledge, Black/African American hair hangers based in the United States.

Alexis is a life-long learner, lover, consumer, and creator of the fine arts, which developed throughout her formative years into adulthood. She began her physical movement practice as a competitive figure skater (solo and synchronized skating) at seven years of age. She continued learning traditional artistic disciplines such as modern dance, theatre, and classical training in violin and opera singer. Alexis has performed in various capacities as an artist in local, national, and international productions. Alexis aims to integrate her scientific curiosities of neuroscience and passion for circus arts to entertain and educate audiences.

Alexis used her Microgrant to attend the Mongolian Contortion Convention (MCC) in Las Vegas and perform a group act with the Mongolian Contortion Center. This experience will allow her to receive hands-on, in-person training, which is necessary to further her education in Mongolian contortion due to a lack of elite contortionists in her city.

August 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Joseph Ahmed

HM Box Rip Cannonball.jpg

Joseph Ahmed (he/they) is a mixed race Asian, Philadelphia-based theater artist and arts administrator whose work combines, collages, and swirls together the disciplines of dance, circus, and interactive performance. They are a founding worker-owner of the interactive performance cooperative Obvious Agency, and a former company member of the Barrymore Award-winning physical theater/circus companies Tribe of Fools and Almanac Dance Circus Theatre. He co-directed ikantkoan’s Chaos Theory, which won Immersive Nation’s Best Social Immersion award in 2019. Their first solo work, Half Magic, was developed through Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists' Mini-Residency program and featured as a special exhibition at the first annual Mixed Asian Media Fest. As a director and actor he has worked throughout Philadelphia with companies such as the Arden Theatre Company, Theater Exile, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Asian Arts Initiative, the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, and First Person Arts, and toured nationally as a teaching artist with Foodplay Productions. They hold a BFA in Theater Arts from Boston University.


The funds from this Microgrant were dedicated to compensating the labor of the fully BIPOC creative team of the autobiographical solo performance Half Magic. Presented in full for the first time at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival as part of Cannonball Festival , Half Magic is an adventure into mixed race identity told through physical theater and circus. Juggling and equilibristics using both traditional juggling objects and found props heighten moments of memory and fantasy as Joe grapples with the people and stories that shaped him.

July 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Xochitl Camila Sosa-Campbell 


Born in Oakland, CA, Xochitl Sosa grew up sandwiched between the bay area's urban culture and the redwoods' fertile soils. Exposure to circus arts at a young age gave Xochitl a purpose. Opening opportunities, circus arts taught her how to balance life and direct her energy into art. Specializing in aerial dance, she has been a highlighted artist and coach in the circus community since 2007. Her original work has won such praise as an Isadora Duncan Award. 

She has worked as an artist, most notably with Cirque du Soleil, Acrobatic Conundrum, and Zaccho Dance Theater. Xochitl recognizes circus arts as a limitless vehicle for storytelling. Its intensity and risk call for trust, communication, vulnerability, and presence. As Founder and Artistic Director of Cirque Vida, a new contemporary circus company, Xochitl innovatively merges disciplines to highlight human experiences. Recognizing the need for diverse narratives, Xochitl is committed to collaborating and creating space for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists to bring their stories to the stage. 

Cirque Vida is applying for this Microgrant to support the production of our first full-length theater show, 'Ventanas'. The show is scheduled to run from the 16th to the 20th of August, and we have been workshopping it for over a year, with a cast of 6 artists.

'Ventanas' is a 75-minute production that explores the complexities of our closest relationships and day-to-day routines through a combination of dynamic circus, dance, and acrobatics. Set in an apartment building, the show centers around the quirky characters and their private moments of laughter, pain, and vulnerability.

The Microgrant will contribute to our venue rental expenses for the production. Venue rental is one of our highest costs next to artist pay and this grant will help this production come to fruition by helping us stage our show in a beautiful venue.

June 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Charles Collins 


Charles is a native Trentonian and member of the Trenton Circus Squad. In a short amount of time, Charles was promoted from member to junior coach for his exceptional participation and character.  Charles joined the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts in 2020, teaching youth students and Youth Troupe.


Charles describes that he has not only strengthened his students' confidence, but also taught them how to be leaders in their own communities.

Due to his incredible work with TCS, the Mercer County Youth Services Commission awarded Charlie the Youth Volunteer Award for his outstanding community impact. 

Charles will use his MicroGrant to get his own German Wheel so he can continue practicing and upgrading his amazing skills on the equipment. He will use the German Wheel to do performances and other gigs. He is also excited to bring German Wheel to the Philadelphia area that doesn’t offer it.   

May 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Yariel Lorezo-Rodriguez

IMG_3064 (1).heic

Yariel began his circus career in 3rd grade with Circus Up and is now going into high school! Born and raised in Boston, he participates in classes at Commonwealth Circus Center and has been a part of the Circus Up Kirkos Community Troupe! Yariel loves straps, tumbling, and handstands the most in circus. He loves to do partner and group work and is so excited to be able to do more circus this summer with this grant from CSAW!

Yariel will use this Microgrant funds to purchase some equipment such as new juggling clubs. He will also use the money to pay for my current classes in straps, partner acro and duo trapeze and to help purchase some new circus clothes.

April 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Veronica Louisa Rosas


Veronica has been a storyteller and performing artist for 30 years. She was forced into it as a desperately shy child and it very quickly became the only thing she would ever care about again. She has studied theater and written for and performed in shows throughout the U.S.

When she turned 30, she had a midlife crisis as a bored housewife and switched her focus to circus. For the past decade she has dedicated herself to performing, coaching, and choreographing aerial arts. She spends most of her time coaching kids and mentoring them in their process of act creation and competition.

In 2018 she began writing a show that would combine traditional theater and circus through the use of verbal storytelling, clowning, puppetry, and stage combat. The cast is mostly latina women with a humorous commentary on the lack of feminism in Shakespeare. She is currently directing and producing that show for The San Diego International Fringe Festival and is working towards touring with it. 79 Ways to Die is her love letter to her most favorite place in the entire world, The Renaissance Faire.


Veronica will use her CSAW grant will to go towards travel stipends for performers for The San Diego International Fringe Festival. Veronica's goal is to not have our performers have to pay for anything out of pocket even though this is a grassroots production. She will also be putting some money into props and costumes so that they can have a few more period accurate pieces. Anything left over will go towards beginning to upgrade the puppets in the show.

March 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Joshira Maduro

80D001B9-FA6D-429C-BB96-8DB1B3593803 (1).jpeg

Joshira Maduro is a story-driven cirque performer based in Miami that specializes in Trapeze. Her journey as an aerialist and circus artist began in 2014 in Charlotte, NC, where she was mainly taught and mentored by Sarah Hahn. Joshira’s performing experience spans up and down the east coast from Boston to Miami. Joshira’s circus education includes Silks, Lyra, Lollipop Lyra, Contortion, and Trapeze as well as trapeze teacher training with Born To Fly. Her current home studio is Cirque Art Studio in North Miami, where she is classically trained by world-renowned professional circus performers, Byamba Jigdengombo and Konstantin Serov. Joshira has performed with Milanus Circus, Boston Circus Guild, New England Black Circus, Cirque du Cosplay, and Satarah Productions. She is also an Aerialympics medalist for both regional and national competitions. She now runs her own cirque performance and ambient entertainment business under Circus Joshira, LLC. 

Joshira will be using the microgrant to acquire a safety crash mat and flexibility private lessons to improve back, shoulder and hip flexibility. As a performer for hire she wants to ensure her safety and set a standard for safe gig performances in my city. 

February 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Lyle Saunders


Lyle has been practicing partner acrobatics for 11 years. He first encountered acro through a friend during a trip to Washington DC and has been hooked ever since. In those early days of practicing a lot of the learning of new acro involved travelling to other cities and bringing those new moves back to his home in Baltimore. He has since seen his Baltimore community grow and flourish and hopes to continue learning and bringing this new acro knowledge home to Baltimore to help the community continue to thrive.

Lyle will using his Microgrant to attend the Positive Impact Movement Festival to learn from world class acrobats rarely seen on the east coast.

January 2023 Microgrant Recipient - Shekinah Williams


My name is Shekinah Williams. She-Ken-na is the most powerful mummy goddess to walk this earth. I am a circus performer/dancer. I started dance when I was 7 with cheer/step, and by the time I was in middle school I specialized in Majorette dance. I discovered circus in late middle school, deeming it a "side art" while I continued to dance Lyrical/Movement/Jazz/Ballet in high school. In 2020, I produced my very own circus show called Change. We are no stranger to 2020 and everything that happened in that year. The show was meant to capture all the unpleasantness of 2020 and it was a success. The following year I produced a follow-up show Change 2: We Are the Change, which was meant to keep our youth loud and uncensored in injustice and bravery for life in general. After being given the opportunity to direct Change, I never stopped after that: I’ve volunteered in other shows and gotten paid to help direct senior theses. Recently, I moved Upstate NY to produce a show about bodily autonomy/sexual freedom called Forbidden Fruits. That show had a beautiful turnout and was nothing but magic. While I'm always happy to perform, I'm also excited to lay my head in a new community. When it comes to my craft, I want to be not just about skill but about passion and about supporting all of us through the art of circus!"

Shekinah will be using her Microgrant to produce her next show! She is also the first person ever to receive two grants from CSAW! Shekinah was the Recipient of our November 2020 Youth Microgrant for US Circus Artists of Color as well. 


October 2022 Microgrant Recipient - Emily Lobue​​


Emily is a straps artist, slackliner, rock climber, and local ice cream wizard based in Cleveland, OH. They have been practicing aerial arts since 2017 and earlier this year they became deeply immersed in straps. From an early age Emilywas often found climbing or hanging upside down from anything they could get their hands on, so it’s no surprise that they pursued a path in circus arts. Emily is always seeking new techniques and inspiration to incorporate into performances with their local circus community @crooked_river_circus . Emily aims to one day teach straps with a focus on injury prevention and rehabilitation. 


This micro grant will be used to help fund their trip to NECCA where they will train intensively for straps as they prepare for holiday performances.

September 2022 Microgrant Recipient - New England Black Circus​​


New England Black Circus is a Black-led group of circus performers in New England with a shared mission to support Black circus artists in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. NEBC works to connect its 20+ members with training, resources, and performance opportunities. The group also works to educate the New England community on the rich history of Black circus artists through performances and educational outreach. By keeping NEBC's membership open to Black circus artists at all levels and across all disciplines, cofounders Nicole and Amara hope to encourage beginners to stick with their training, and ultimately create more Black circus professionals.

NEBC will be using a portion of their Microgrant to offset the cost of a smaller rig for indoor venues which will be available for all of their members to use as needed. They will use the final portion of the grant to fund private lessons for their 5 newest aspiring professional members.

August 2022 Microgrant Recipient - WILD


Wild is a circus artist, street performer, filmmaker, and founder of the movement, Love N’ Liberate. She performs in cities around the world in everyday spaces sharing joy, freedom, and play. She aims to create films and interactive live performances, involving communities in creative storytelling and free expression.

Wild will be using her Microgrant to fund her tuition on the acrobatics track of the Actors Gym Pro Training Program.

July 2022 Microgrant Recipient - Karynn Sucaldito​​


Karynn Sucaldito is an aerial artist and teacher, yoga instructor, speech pathologist in-training, and the founder of Aerial Equanimity - a nonprofit based in her hometown of Reno, Nevada with the mission of improving awareness of and access to aerial arts for aspiring youth in her community.

Karynn has been working in the aerial world since 2015 and is a continuing student of the arts. She was the recipient of Paper Doll Militia’s Artful Leaders Scholarship in the Summer of 2020, and two-time FBA scholarship recipient in 2021. Currently, Karynn serves as an administrative leader for the Fly Black Aerialists, and is a core facilitator for Soulmatique Intelligence. Despite how far she has come, she continues to feel called to do her part to give back by providing access to safe and consistent recreational activities which allow for positive personal development to Reno youth communities.


Karynn will use her microgrant to purchase three sets of studio straps for her nonprofit Aerial Equanimity to fully furnish the new classes being offered to the community.

June 2022 Microgrant Recipient - Catherine Doveland​​


Swinging on monkey bars wasn’t enough of a challenge for Catherine, so she decided to try flying on a trapeze instead. She took her first trapeze class at Circus Juventas in Minnesota, and continued to train and perform with them for 13 years. During that time she was an aerialist and high wire walker in their smash hits such as Wonderland, Steam, Twisted, and more. After getting her BA in theatre arts from the University of Minnesota, she moved out to Philadelphia to attend Circadium School of Contemporary Circus. In between classes she’s performed with Airplay Entertainment, American Tightwire, and Alterra Productions.

Catherine will use her microgrant for expenses that arose from treating a foot injury as well as living expenses she couldn’t meet due to not being able to work while injured.

May 2022 Microgrant Recipient - Alyssa Bigbee​​


Alyssa Bigbee is the Founder & Director of Rebel Arts Movement Center, a studio based in the Kensington area of Philadelphia. She founded Rebel Arts Movement in 2020 with the idea of increasing accessibility to acrobatics & aerial arts to Black and Brown youth. Alyssa has a combined experience of 15 years in teaching tumbling, acrobatics, and aerial arts classes to youth. She prides herself on providing space to help underserved youth recognize their strengths and helping them understand how to use their unique abilities into their artistry.


Alyssa will use her grant to develop her circus arts program by covering the cost of equipment and installation. With the grant, she will be able to offer an affordable circus arts program for Black & Brown youth.   

April 2022 Microgrant Recipient - Amancay Kugler​​


Amancay is the Executive Director of Yes Ma'am Circus, a Chicago-based contemporary circus company that specializes in adapting literary classics for a modern audience. She is a first-gen immigrant from Argentina, having emigrated to the United States with her mother as a child. When not producing circus shows she performs at private events, teaches circus classes, and wrangles her two toddlers.

Amancay will use her microgrant to fund her production of the Chicago Circus & Performing Arts Festival. The primary focus of the grant is to cover expenses related to the BIPOC Circus Alliance Midwest's cabaret show, which will allow the performing BIPOC artists to keep all of their ticket sales. Any remaining amount will go towards covering general festival expenses.

March 2022 Microgrant Recipient - Emilio Petriella​​


Emilio is a midwesterner from Northeast Ohio who moved to Oregon to pursue their dreams as a designer in the cosmetics industry, as they are a licensed Esthetician and Hair Designer in the State of Oregon & Ohio. 


Emilio considers themselves a circus freak of many disciplines. As of 2020, Emilio is a sarcoma survivor and finds community and support within the world of the circus arts. One day, they hope to be an artist for Cirque Du Soleil and travel the world as a performer.

Emilio plans to use their Microgrant to fund training at Pole & Dance Portland and equipment to use for home practice.

February 2022 Microgrant Recipient - Paúl Gomex​​


Paúl Gomex is a pluridisciplinary performer and director. He is the founder of 406Cirque, the Circus School of Bozeman, Montana. In 2017, he graduated with honors from Academy Dimitri (CH) for a MA in Physical Theater. Later on, Gomex became Mary Overlie’s right hand for the publishing of “Standing In Space”, her legacy book about the Six Viewpoints technique. Gomex has toured in more than 18 countries, performing, directing and teaching circus and movement theater. He has directed and produced several shows for Clowns Without Borders and is an occasional advisor and performer for with them as well.


Gomex plans to use his microgrant to pay for rehearsal space in order to be ready for the upcoming summer season.

January 2022 Microgrant Recipient - Randy Kato​​


Randy Kato is a Cyr Wheel artist athlete, performer, and coach. His Space Oddity/Major Tom act was selected to be performed as part of the “David Bowie Is” exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum. He has performed for Big Apple Circus, The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, The Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, NBC News, the CBS Morning Show, the FOX Morning Show, and so much more. He is also a Wheel Gymnastics World Championship competitor for Team USA. Check him out at .

Randy hopes to use his grant as a resource to fund training and rehearsal needs during these uncertain times.

December 2021 Microgrant Recipient - Myles Azehko


Paidamoyo-Janet Azehko, more often known as “My.L.E.S” is an interdisciplinary artist out to blur the lines between circus and technology with their latest project: #CircusAndCode, an attempt at the world’s first AI written open-source circus production. You can find out more and sign up at:

They live in Oakland, CA. Their mission in life is “To increase the number of positive interactions between people."

Myles will use their Microgrant to install rigging and purchase aerial apparatuses to train on.

November 2021 Microgrant Recipient - Jai Carter


Jai Carter is an energetic sensory seeker that has been doing gymnastics since he was a toddler.  Seeking a summer camp that would be a good outlet for his energy, his mom enrolled him in a program with Le Petit Cirque and he has been hooked on circus ever since!  Several days a week, Jai trains as a competitive gymnast and and applies his gymnastics conditioning in circus arts training with Le Petit Cirque. He is currently focusing on polishing a trapeze and aerial straps act.  Circus is a therapeutic outlet for his creative energy and is enriching for his self esteem because his abilities are celebrated and his performances bring joy to audiences. 


Jai will use his microgrant to cover circus training session fees, private coach lessons to polish aerial acts for his performance, and gymnastics training dues.


August 2021 - Lena Fumi


Lena Fumi is a contortionist and aerialist based in Los Angeles. Having learned the art of dance from a young age, she continued to pursue dance until her teen years when various circumstances diverted her away from a potential dance career. In her 20s and 30s, after conquering some health issues, she worked her way up into an engineering department of a corporate company. At the age of 36, after a department layoff, she used this time to transition into full time circus training.

Starting contortion at an advanced age with no prior experience in backbending or acrobatics was no easy task! However, she immediately felt a passion for the artistic movement and skills, and has continued to dedicate her time to training and learning new skills while taking every chance to perform. Lena teaches for Fit and Bendy, a company dedicated to supporting students in getting to know, nurture and appreciate their bodies while developing a new ranges of motion. The CSAW grant comes at a critical time and will allow her to obtain the necessary equipment to develop a new act while continuing to teach students from all backgrounds and walks of life.

July 2021 - Quentin Jackson

Image 4-15-21 at 18.00.jpeg

Quentin Jackson is based in New Orleans and will be using this grant to continue pursuing trapeze and rope. He also hopes to invest in a unicycle and juggling balls!

June 2021 - Jacqui Ray


Jacqui Ray is a San Francisco-based pole dancer and performance artist. While her original background is in fine arts and painting, her focus on performative studies and dance through university redirected her passion for self-expression.

At 19, she discovered pole dance and contortion while beginning her first formal training in modern dance. Much of her stylistic and movement influence comes from avant-garde artists and painters. as well as her love for defying what's expected in movement and story-telling. 

Soon after her discovery, she moved to San Francisco to finish her Bachelor's as well as further pursue her education in contortion and pole dance. In time, she's found her greatest mode of performance is in competitive or showcased environments. For 2 years in a row, she's won first-place in Pole Sport Organization's Golden Gate and National Championships. Shortly before lockdown, Jacqui began performing in non-competitive showcases in night venues like The Great Northern with Flux Vertical Theatre. Now with reopening, she hopes to reignite her performative trek around the countries in art-galleries, competitions, and other venues alike.

With this scholarship, Jacqui will now have the financial accessibility to redevelop her contortion skills to support the unusual and sometimes "inhuman" aesthetics of her movements. 

May 2021 - Tiffany Wright

DSC02043 Crop .jpg

Tiffany Wright has a story worth telling. She just recently, officially joined the Contemporary Circus community, although has unknowingly been practicing Circus Arts for years.

She has pursued acrobatics and competitive cheerleading for over 10 years along a successful career as a Psychotherapist, but a happenchance meeting led to the discovery of Circadium School of Contemporary Circus. She finally found a home. Tiffany will soon be finishing her first year, studying contortion, hand balancing, and partner acrobatics and she plans to use this grant to assist her continued journey through circus school at Circadium. She has a passion for teaching movement, advocating for and supporting mental health, and using movement as a voice when words don’t see fit. This journey, thus far, has allowed her to truly label herself a “circus kid” and she looks forward to continued exploration into using art as a healing modality for herself and others. 

April 2021 - Stephanie Little Thunder Morphet-Tepp


Stephanie Little Thunder Morphet-Tepp, also known as The Flying Brain, is Colorado's first hair hanger.  She also specializes in aerial hoop, aerial chains, stilting, and fire.  Stephanie grew up as a gymnast and collegiate cheerleader.  After a life-changing car accident in 2012, she spent three years in physical therapy to regain her mobility, which she then applied to the circus arts. 

The Flying Brain has worked locally in Colorado, as well as nationally and internationally with groups such as Garden Brothers' Circus. Great Benjamin's Circus, Fractal Society, Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, and Phantom Circus.  Her favorite performance memory is spinning fire while hair hanging in Costa Rica before the pandemic.  She even brought home a street dog- who is now a hoop diver! 

Beyond cultivating her own athleticism and artistry, Stephanie works to bring circus to her community as a means of bolstering mental health through donation based lessons, specifically targeting troubled and at-risk youth, survivors of abuse, and people with physical disabilities.  Stephanie Morphet-Tepp believes the circus has something for everyone and dreams of opening her own circus non-profit sanctuary in the future.  She also works as a diversity consultant for several groups and is passionate about her work specifically with indigenous people and BIPOC civil rights.  Stephanie will be using the funding from CSAW to continue developing her independant donation-based program in Fort Collins, CO.  While circus is present in Northern Colorado, Stephanie's program is structured as a community service, rather a business, and centers on improving physical and mental health in the community.

March 2021 - Neimyiah Whittley-Jones Jr

Neimo Headshot.jpg

Neimyiah "Neimo" Whittley Jones Jr was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They graduated high school at sixteen years old,moved to Philadelphia to study dance, and the adventure set sail. From coaching gymnastics, street performing at festivals, the circus-dance artist has moved on stages from Newyork to San Francisco using tools found in formal dance training and oddities learned from having a heavy sideshow background.


With time, they went from participating in underground sideshows to working with dance productions including the works of Weftworks, Water Street Dance Company, and Brian Sanders' Junk. Dancing from the local dance studio to Marcus Center for Performing Arts, their goal has been to create, inspire, and change the mold of what can be physically seen in artists showcases. At twenty-two, Neimo produces circus sideshows and participates in shows as time allows. This leaves time to build a visual art into the fashion of their creations. Neimyiah is honored to be placed where time has placed them. While everything comes with a relative learning curve, Neimo is still aiming the bow.

February 2021 - Kaisha Dessalines Wright


Kaisha is from England in the UK, where she discovered her love for sports at a very young age. In school, she would participate in many school clubs, including football, hockey, dance, and competed for her region in Athletics. She discovered acrobatic gymnastics at the age of 3, which quickly escalated into competing internationally by the age of 10, where she competed in over 7 countries, winning 5 international cups and finishing her 15-year career as a British Champion in 2016. 

She then studied at the National Centre for Circus Arts at the age of 18, specializing in Hand to Hand and Dance Trapeze, as well as training in handstands, contortion, and Acro dance. In her time in London, she’s had the opportunity to participate in many circus jobs, including festivals, clubs, and was able to perform for Dior at Fashion Week in 2019. She completed her 3 years and gained her Foundation Degree and her Bachelor Honours Degree in Circus Arts in July 2019. She decided to extend her training and is currently studying the same disciplines in her 2nd year at the National Circus School in Montreal, Canada. She hopes to graduate in 2022. 

Kaisha is thankful for the support from her close family and friends, and for the continuous support in her choice of a career path as a circus artist. 

In her spare time, Kaisha enjoys singing and listening to music, watching films, traveling, and being with her close friends. 

January 2021 - Jasmine Gonzalez 


Jasmine Gonzalez is a sixteen year-old and a member of Circesteem's advanced performance troupe! She's been practicing circus for about 6 or 7 years now, and has been a part of this performance troupe for about 5 of those years. Circus is her absolute favorite thing to do; whether it's practicing partner acro with her team, passing juggling clubs with a coach, or just stretching her splits and chin-stand. It's been quite the adjustment these past few months for Jasmine with the pandemic and a recent knee injury, and she's still getting used to not being able to train as much as before.

With that said, Jasmine is hoping to use this grant as a resource to help find ways to train in this unusual time. Hopefully this entails, getting circus equipment that she can use at home, taking a class or two at gyms that are still open, and if her team goes back to meeting in-person (hopefully soon) then using this grant to buy costumes for thier upcoming show! Jasmine says she could not be more thankful to have been selected for this grant, and can't wait to use it to get back to doing what she loves!

December 2020 - Lenise Jackson


Lenise is an international Pilates instructor as well as an aerial yoga/fitness instructor. She lives in Los Angeles by way of Dallas, Texas. She has a bachelors from the University of Texas at Arlington in Business, health, and communications. She has been doing aerial arts for the past 4 years and has experience as a professional dancer in the stage play "Diary of Black Men" and Six Flags over Texas.

She has her own boutique studio in LA called Fly Fit Lenise. She is also the founder of the Fly Black Aerialist, a community of men and women of black descent in the circus/aerial arts industry. She has been featured in Voyage LA magazine, a scholarship recipient of the Paper Doll Militia company and AIR Fit aerial fitness Inc. Her sponsors include companies such as Tavi Noir, Club Pilates, and Iconi Leggings. She is also the featured aerialist in singer's Kevin Hawkins music video "The One Thing" as well as produced and performed in a few aerial virtual shows.

Her goal is to continue to give back to her community and increase the exposure of aerial arts to the black community, not to mention, she has always wanted to run away with the circus!  She has completed science prerequisites with inspirations to add nursing to her skill set. She loves to skate, her dog, and her prius!

November 2020 Ages 14-21 -  Shekinah Williams


Thanks to the additional funds raised by the circus community, CSAW was able to provide two Microgrants for the month of November. One to ages 21+ and one for youth ages 14-21. 

CSAW is proud to present Shekinah Williams as the youth Microgrant recipent. Here's more about Shekinah:

"My name is Shekinah William's, I started circus without knowing that was my true calling in this world, when I discovered circus arts into my life it made a dramatic change in the person I was and the person that I wanted to be. I started in Trenton circus Squad @trentoncircus and got to travel and meet new people and make marks on their hearts. That's my true passion about circus, giving people hope and a reason to smile.

I've decided to create my circus organization around young African American ladies and guide them through life with circus, my main entry I want to make into their lives is Peace, Love, and positivity regardless of where life takes them, I want to be that strong women that young ladies look up to in life."

November 2020 Ages 21+ Cuream Jackson


Cuream Jackson will be using his $1,000 grant to invest in a duo trapeze and here's why:

"I am always wanting to adapt and try new things to improve or better my art. In this case I need to invest in learning a bar apparatus that I can create an act on for the show I would like to create. Investing in a duo trapeze is key because it's an act I intend to create showing the relationship between two men. More often than not, the heteronormative role is the role casted for and portrayed in a circus relationship piece. Man fawns over women and dominates her. The roles reverse in some shows but there's barely any representation of what other people identify with. I think its important to create this number as we need to see more representation and diversity in the circus world. This would hopefully create more acts celebrating queer artist and artists of color."

Whether it's tumbling, dancing, or spinning from the ceiling, you’re bound to find this 29-year old with a smile on his face. Over the past 13 years, Cuream Jackson has dedicated his body to the performing arts. As a former collegiate cheerleader, he adapted quickly and seamlessly to the aerial arts. His love for circus, art, teaching, and people lead him to become a successful aerial straps artist, an admirable teacher, and a creative organizer. Each project he curates or collaborates on promotes the performing arts and creative education. You can find Cuream performing in the Pacific Northwest with the Boise Circus Guild, Red Light Variety Show, The Fox & Beggar Theater, and several other events.

October 2020 - Kyran Walton


Kyran Walton will be using the CSAW Microgrant toward

his tuition for École nationale de cirque in Montreal!


Kyran was raised in St. Louis Missouri and has been a very energetic child since he could walk. He played a few sports before the age 8 but none of them were engaging enough for him. Circus Harmony performed at his school around the time that he was 8 and he immediately begged his mom to sign him up for classes. Since then Kyran has been in the circus for 11 years now along with dancing for 6 of those years. Around age 11, Kyran was made a member of the circus Harmony’s advanced troupe : the St. Louis Arches. During the next 7 years, Kyran became fairly advanced in Contortion, Hand-balancing, juggling, Acrobatics, Trapeze, Unicycle, wire, Banquine, hand to hand. Over these 11 years Kyran performed in over 1000 shows from St. Louis to Monte Carlo, Israel, Puerto Rico, New Orleans Jazz fest, Washington D.C, New York and many more.

Ever since he was 13 years old, Kyran dreamt of going to Ecole National De Cirque in Montreal. When he was 18, he auditioned, and luckily got in. Kyran is currently in his second year specializing in Hand to Hand which combines all his favorite disciplines (Hand-balancing, Acrobatics, Contortion). Kyran is very happy to have made it this far thanks to support from his family and his circus family. Outside of Circus, Kyran enjoys Filming, Photography, sleeping, and questioning the unquestioned.

September 2020 - Abigail Williams 


Abigail Williams is a Dancer, Aerialist, Aerial Instructor, and Producer based in NYC. She will be using the CSAW Microgrants for training and travel expenses as well as for her production company SHOWTIME! We'll be keeping up with Abigail and how she uses the grant and you can too! Follow @superflybrowngirl on Instagram. 

Born in Miami, Florida, Abigail begun her performing arts training and took an active role within the community at a young age. After graduating in the spring of 2014 from Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, Fl with a B.A. in Theatre Performance and a minor in Dance, she relocated to New York City where she worked as a studio apprentice at the Ailey Extension Department of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Body & Pole. Living in NYC afforded Abigail many opportunities to connect, collaborate, and create with various local artists and choreographers. Through her time as an apprentice at Body and Pole, Abigail developed a deep love and passion for the circus, specifically Aerial. She trained on various apparatuses and became proficient on Lyra (Aerial Hoop) and Single Point Hammock. It wasn’t long before she was performing Aerial all over the city.

Along with gracing more than a few stages within the city, Abigail has also produced several small stage productions. Showtime: An Urban Circus, done in partnership with her team members of Showtime NYC (Donna Carnow and Mariangela Ciccone), is production featuring local performers with skills varying from vocalists and musicians, to contortion, aerialists, pole performers, dancers etc. “Showtime” features the best talent that the city has to offer, all the while telling the stories that are indicative of New York and the people who live there and ride the subway.

Abigail is working on a few artistic projects and collaborations that will be taking shape in the near future.

bottom of page