Dancers in Space Soar to New Aerial Heights

Published on March 17, 2009 - 4:43 pm

by Wendy Case : Special to the Detroit News

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Popular yoga style, perfected by Cirque du Soleil, has led owners to move to larger facilities.

DETROIT -- With her sharp features and toned, slender body, it would be easy to assume that Detroit Flyhouse co-founder, Micha Adams, is a dancer. The assumption would be correct, but not in the conventional sense.

Together with friend and business partner, Steve Ramasocky, Adams teaches an acrobatic form of movement called "aerial yoga." The practice involves the use of colorful 40-foot-long tricot curtains suspended from the rafters of the pair's sunny Eastern Market studio. Adams, Ramasocky and their students employ the curtains to hoist themselves into the air and perform various maneuvers that give the appearance of dancing in space.

Fluid and dramatic, the ballet-like discipline was initially popularized in the West by the acrobats of the Cirque du Soleil. Though there are outlets that teach aerial yoga on both coasts, it's still a relatively rare practice in the U.S. But thanks to the influence of Adams, Ramasocky, and their devoted following, its popularity is growing rapidly in Metro Detroit.

"It's like the business found us," says Adams, 39, who estimates current enrollment at the Detroit Flyhouse to be around 70 students.

Seeded by Adams' popular, more traditional, Yin yoga classes, the Detroit Flyhouse outgrew its previous two locations (in Dearborn and Detroit's Corktown) within months of opening. Now, six months later (and with a growth rate of roughly 180 percent), the business has settled nicely into its current location.

"Finding a space has been the most difficult portion of the business," says Ramasocky, 39. "The speed at which this has progressed has been astounding."

Classes at the Detroit Flyhouse run $16 a session for an eight-week package or $25 for drop-ins. "We reward consistency," says Adams, who discovered aerial yoga after taking a local trapeze class. "The more you come, the more you're going to get out of it."

She credits the popularity of the Flyhouse's unusual curriculum with the natural bonding that the practice invokes and a healthy word-of-mouth campaign. The majority of Flyhouse students are women, but aerial yoga does have male enthusiasts as well. "I just like being in the air," says 26-year-old Knox Valleskey of Troy as he shrugs off a little "fabric burn" from the curtain. "It's a lot of fun and it's really creative."

According to Fitness magazine's Mary Christ Anderson, aerial yoga definitely has the potential to become a national phenomenon. " 'Suspension' is a big buzzword right now in fitness," she says by phone from the magazine's New York offices. "This is a super extension of functional training. It's about putting everything together and seeing what the body can do."

For Adams and Ramasocky, there's also a profound spiritual element. "We're not interested in steering the business," says Adams, "we want it to blossom and grow and unfold naturally. That's been the key to our success so far."

Wendy Case is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

© 2009 The Detroit News

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