Tahoe Flow Arts combines aerial arts, yoga, dance for fun workout experience | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Flow Arts combines aerial arts, yoga, dance for fun workout experience

Meredith Calderas — an aerial, dance and yoga instructor and performer — works as Kelly Smiley's assistant and teaches various classes at the studio.
Courtesy Tahoe Flow Arts Studio |

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Tahoe Flow Arts is a for-profit organization — located at 6921 North Lake Blvd. in Tahoe Vista — that cultivates an energized focus, an honor for natural beauty and a perpetual motivation for professional training in the performing arts.

Class, workshop and performance information: www.tahoeflowartsstudio.com

TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — It’s no secret: Exercise is prioritized when it’s fun.

And it’s difficult to imagine exercise classes more fun or more gratifying than those led by the graceful and supportive instructors at Tahoe Flow Arts located in Tahoe Vista.

The studio combines strength training with dance, yoga and rhythm, all while participants are suspended from the ceiling on aerial fabrics or a steel, aerial hoop called the lyra. This type of training creates a challenging workout that is also a beautiful and expressive performance.

“Any age, any skill level, any size person can do this,” said Kelly Smiley, who owns Tahoe Flow Arts Studio and is an aerial fabrics, yoga and hula hoop instructor with more than 400 hours of yoga and eight years of aerial training under her belt.

Last Saturday, the night of the Student Showcase performance, Smiley was glowing with pride.

She shared her studio’s mission of inclusion and self-expression without competition in front a packed crowd seated on floor pillows and mats two and three rows deep. Audience members even peeked through the windows from outside to enjoy the performance and cheer on the aerialists.

“We cultivate and energize focus,” Smiley said. “This is a sacred and supportive space that we’ve built, and it’s our goal to hold a space for acceptance and compassion. We teach that in all our classes and I hope you see that shine through in all of their performances.”

The students had been training for this performance as the culmination of eight weeks of training in yoga, dance and aerial arts.

This kind of regimented training foregoes traditional gym methods, instead putting self-expression at the core of its technique.

Combining deep yoga stretching with aerial strength and graceful movement provides health benefits both physically and emotionally to all kinds of people.

“It’s so empowering to do something this difficult with grace, and anyone can do it,” Smiley said. “We start from the ground up in our instruction. You don’t need to be any certain skill level or age; in fact, one of our performers this evening is a beautiful 62-year-old woman who came to me and said, ‘I want to do this.’

“You don’t need to be any certain size; we have absolutely beautiful, voluptuous women of all shapes and sizes. You don’t even need to be super strong — we’ll build your strength.”

As a former snowboard instructor, Smiley injured her knee on the mountain and turned to yoga rather than surgical options to recover. Yoga then took her aerial arts skill to new heights, and she says she has found her calling.

Smiley encourages athletes to try their hand at flow arts and see for themselves the difference in their flexibility and performance.

“For those looking to elongate their bodies, please come by,” she said. “Even just hanging upside down — you will feel better.”

Tahoe Flow Arts Studio offers an array of classes, workshops and retreats for adults and kids to experience dance, yoga and flow classes including aerial arts as well as prop manipulation using poi and hoops.

“This class series was my first incorporating the chakras into our practice,” Smiley said. “(The performers) were kind of my guinea pigs in that we would focus on opening each of the chakras weekly, as a way for them to open the mind and body in preparation of tonight’s performance.

“It has been really beautiful to see their transformations, their growing confidence and grace.”

Beginner, intermediate and advanced performers linked arms for a team-huddle before show time, excitedly motivating one another before taking center stage to showcase the talents they’d acquired over the past 8 weeks.

Meredith Calderas, an instructor and assistant in running the studio, encouraged the audience to have fun and get loud.

She shared how eager she was to perform for the first time since dislocating her knee in December and said, “I am so thankful for this studio and the support of this community. So all right, let’s do it.”

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.