Shannon McKenna, aerialist and founder of TheArtistAthlete.com was never a dancer, never a gymnast, but one hell of a tree climber.
She earned her B.F.A. from NYU with a concentration in physical theater and decided the summer after college, without much idea of what it meant, to become a circus artist. She packed up her life in a suitcase and traveled the globe in search of the best coaches to teach her, teaching aerial arts to whoever wanted to learn, and put her work on any stage she could. She trained straps with Jonathan Fortin in Montreal and Juan Luis Gonzalez in Guadalajara, and rope and flexibility through the professional training program at The New England Center for Circus Arts. She teaches workshops and classes to all ages and abilities in over 20 states from Circus Smirkus in Vermont all the way to the legendary San Francisco Circus Center in California.
Her performance work has spanned from traditional shows in large arenas to intimate contemporary pieces in small black box theaters. She performs as a solo artist, a part of artistic duos, and ensembles. Career highlights being a magician’s assistant in Portugal, a post-food poisoning silks act in the German show WET, and hanging underneath a motorcycle on a tight wire with the Flying Espanas.
In 2018, Shannon launched The Artist Athlete, an online resource that produces educational material for aerialists, as well as a weekly podcast which contains interviews with professionals in the circus industry. It is available on Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and iTunes.