In the Media

Everyday Tampa Bay

March 30, 2018

Jamie Russell pulled her shirt up and looked in the mirror at the red marks on her back. She said she had the same burns on her legs, where the rope rubbed against her bare skin as she climbed, swung and spiraled during a recent performance.

"Circus hurts," she said. "If you don’t hurt, then you are not doing it right."

Most days, Russell, 31, works in a cubicle as a senior service specialist in the retail account management department of a national investment firm in Tampa. But at night, she trains or performs as an aerialist.

"I kind of like to think of myself a little bit like a superhero," she said while dangling, her body wrapped in two long strips of purple fabric — called silks — rigged from the ceiling of a warehouse in historic East Ybor. "During the day, I am business casual, blazers and suit jackets, but at night, I get to turn into this sparkling creature."

Russell was drawn in after seeing an aerialist perform at a club where she used to work as a dancer.

She became an Aerial Dragon about two years ago. The local circus troupe performs on apparatuses like the trapeze, the silks and the lyra — a metal hoop. Regardless of the equipment, she said, it’s all about having the right grip in the right spot.

"If you grip too hard, you are going to be in more pain that you need to be, and you are not going to be able to relax and actually flow with the music," she said.

The Aerial Dragons typically perform at fundraisers and festivals, with aerialists sometimes doing several routines, each lasting a few minutes. To Russell, performing before a crowd is a magical experience.

If she had to choose, Russell would pick circus life over the corporate world. But her day job comes with benefits, and she’s proud of that work, too.

Russell’s next adventure is to teach the circus arts, as she has recently become an assistant at the Keep Yoga and Circus Arts studio, the place where she first learned midair tricks.

See Jamie Russell at worke_SFlb

10 News

December 21, 2017

What's this

TAMPA, Fla. -- If life got in the way of joining the circus, you might want to check out The Keep Yoga and Circus Arts, in Tampa

Owners Jessica Watson and Kaley Eckersdorff opened 'The Keep' in 2016 to teach men and women to yoga, aerial yoga, acro yoga, and different circus arts.

Circus acts are just that: skills you would see in a circus. Things like the trapeze, aerial silk, aerial rings, and ropes hang in 'The Keep' from 31-foot ceilings and offer plenty of room to swing, hang, spin.

“Aerial is one of those arts that seems hard at first but the longer you do it, and the longer you stick with it, it's going to get easier and easier,” says Watson.

It's also a great workout, increasing, strength, flexibility, and cardio.

The keep is also the home of the Aerial Dragons, a performance group that travels around Florida showing off their circus art skills at private and public events.

If you would like to find out more information on 'The Keep', including their class schedule, click here. If you want to find out more about the Aerial Dragons and how to hire them, click here.

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Tampa Magizine

January 24, 2017


Written By Marcy Sanford  | Photography By Gabriel Burgos

Aerial yoga combines acrobatic arts and yoga poses for an exhilarating and unique variation of your traditional yoga class.

Versions of aerial yoga have been practiced in India for hundreds of years, but it only became popular in the U.S. within the past 10. Kaley Gay and Jessica Watson, founding members of the Aerial Dragons and owners of The Keep Yoga and Circus Arts, started teaching aerial yoga and circus arts classes in Tampa three years ago when friends began requesting them, and things took off from there.

Earth Dance Festival

November 18, 2016

Aerial Dragons performs for the second year in a row at Earth dance. Recap video of Earthdance 2016. This is a festival that lives and breathes performance art. Glad we got the be a part of the magic. Shout out to the stunning Kaley Gay for gracing this video, and why are we only just now discovering CARCOSA.... your work is captivating! Thank you!

Workout Craze: Aerial Fitness

June 08, 2016

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Short of running away and joining the circus, aerial fitness may be the closest most of us will get to the flying trapeze. Aerial fitness classes usually include a trapeze, a hoop known as a lyra, and long drapes of silks.

“It wasn’t at the time accessible for everybody. You had to either be in a traditional circus or a circus school in order to learn this skill,” said third generation circus performer Jessica Watson. Watson and her partner Kaley Gay just opened a new aerial fitness studio to bring those skills to more people.

Dream Noir Aerial Show - Aerial Dragons

June 26, 2015

Aerialists perform in front of a packed house in St. Petersburg, Florida. Twenty members of the Aerial Dragons put on a dazzling performance at the Bloom Art Center. This contorted evening featuring Aerial art by the Aerial Dragons was a huge success including breath taking Aerial acts, Fire Dances, music by the Future Vintage Band and much more. The group was able to raise their allotted goal. Be sure to keep up with the Aerial Dragons by liking their Facebook page:

Aerial Dragons Defy Gravity in Tampa

July 22, 2014

Third-generation Circus Performer and Aerial Arts Entrepreneur Jessica Watson is taking her craft and her students to new heights several times a week in North Hyde Park through her recently launched school Aerial Dragons.

Aerial art is that part of the circus where you are looking up, holding your breath, praying the performers are wearing invisible parachutes. Think Cirque du Soleil, think trapeze, think pretzel.

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Aerial Dragons

1703 N 24th st Tampa, Fl 33605




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