About Us

We teach an understanding of the body in relation to the aerial apparatus, a willingness for exploration and creativity, and a can-do approach to training.  

Our Approach

Since its first days in 2014, Buffalo Aerial Dance has been devoted not only to the art of aerial dance, but to the art of teaching.  We have developed and revised our methods over the past 4 years to create a unique curriculum.  Our students are a mixture of serious aerialists who seek performance-level training, and more casual learners interested in a new activity.  Our system of teaching engages and challenges students of all types.

Each level of our curriculum has a variety of choreographed sequences appropriate to that level.  This method builds strength, endurance, and technique, and offers the satisfaction of performing sequences (and prepares you for student showcases).  It is designed for you progress according to your own goals.

We currently offer classes in four apparatuses: silks, trapeze, lyra, and corde lisse, as well as classes for kids and teens, aerial yoga and aerial fitness.


Photo by Rise Collaborative


B.A.D. was officially founded in 2014 by Erica Cope with much support from Buffalo’s growing dance community. We especially are grateful to Amy Taravella for creating and directing the beautiful Alt Theatre where we currently train.

Erica and Amy met in 2012 when Erica returned home from the West Coast.  Amy, a professional ballet and modern dancer of many years, and Erica, a budding aerialist eager for a place to continue training in Buffalo, collaborated on a few small shows integrating aerial work and dance, and these first experiments proved to more aupicious than either imagined. It was clear that Buffalonians were ready for aerial dance!

In 2013, Erica enrolled in NECCA’s teacher training program, and worked to create Buffalo Aerial Dance studio throughout the remainder of the year.


Erica Cope: Silks, Corde Lisse, Lyra, Trapeze

Photo by Sarah Westphal

Erica trained in silks, corde lisse, aerial sling, and trapeze at Versatile Arts in Seattle, WA from (2008-2011).  She has completed NECCA’s Introduction to Teaching Aerials (2013), Foundation to Aerial Silks (2015), and Foundation to Trapeze (2016), and completed an aerial rigging workshop with Jonathan Duels (2014).  She is certified in First Aid, CPR and AED through the Red Cross, and 200 hour certified in Vinyasa yoga through East Meets West Yoga (2017).

Additionally, Erica has attended the ADF in Boulder, CO in 2011, and intensive trainings in aerial theory and choreography.  Erica continues to travel regularly, expanding her knowledge of aerial work, including training at Circus Warehouse, Body & Pole, Sky Candy,  NECCA, The Aloft Loft, Aerial Artique, Hercinia Arts, The Collective Space (Toronto), and returning to her “aerial home base,” Versatile Arts, whenever possible. She has taken workshops with Fred Deb, Jamie Hodgson, Una Bennett, Lisa Elliott, Liza Rose, Liz Cooper, the Espana family, Duo Madrona, as well as members of Cirque de Soliel, and many other nationally and internationally known aerial instructors.

Erica’s aerial teaching style is influenced by ballet, modern dance, and Vinyasa yoga, all of which she has studied for many years, and actively trains in order to develop her fluidity and expression on the aerial apparatus. She loves the fact that aerial arts serves as a gateway for people to understand their own bodies and movements.  Besides training to fulfill her aerial dreams, Erica holds an M.A in Comparative Literature from University at Buffalo, a paralegal certification from University of Washington, and a B.A. in Psychology from Carleton College.  She formerly taught English and Humanities as an adjunct professor, and currently satisfies her inner nerd and love of teaching by tutoring high school students.


Courtney Barrow: Silks, Aerial Sling, Youth Aerial

Courtney Barrow is a Wellness and Fitness Coach, Movement Researcher, Dancer, Aspiring Aerialist, Performer, CB Fierce straddle - reszTeacher, Writer/Poet and Artist in Buffalo, NY. When she is not doing one or all of the above, she is the proud dog mom of Elvis, an American Eskimo, loading up on delicious fish and vegetables or visiting her Trinidadian parents in the beautiful island of Barbados where she grew up.  She has B.A. in Exercise Science and Psychology from University at Buffalo.

You can find out more about Courtney on her facebook page:



 Other Resources

We also want to create educated aerialists and strongly encourage you to check out the following resources for some great information on safety and training methods in the aerial industry.

Circus Now – an organization connecting circus communities all over the U.S.  http://circusnow.org

Laura Witwer’s Blog – chock full of tips on improving your aerial training http://www.laurawitwer.com/

American Circus Educators – an organization which sets safety and training standards for aerial schools and instructors http://www.americancircuseducators.org/

New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) – One of the most established and comprehensive aerial schools in country (and the world) http://necenterforcircusarts.org/

Cirque Physio – a blog written by a Physical Therapist who specializes in correcting and preventing circus-related injuries http://www.cirquephysio.com/

Simply Circus Community – lots of F.A.Q. about apparatuses and rigging http://community.simplycircus.com

Rebekah Leach’s aerial dancing site – Ms. Leach is a top notch trainer and author of several widely used aerial manuals http://www.aerialdancing.com/