Mission: Defy Gravity strives to offer all members of our diverse community the opportunity of self-expression and self-acceptance through suspension, aerial arts, and dance.
We believe that pole and aerial group classes can provide a fun and positive approach to fitness, taking the focus off weight loss and/or and physical appearance and redirecting to the acquisition of practical strength and a strong body/mind connection.
Community building and inclusivity are the ideological pillars of our studio. All of our classes and staff trainings are organized around these ideas. We are a visibly queer, sex-positive, body-neutral space. We do not tolerate harassment of any kind — especially pertaining to strippers, the originators of pole. We believe in the power of finding joyful movement and celebrating what your body can do today, as it is. Whether you grew up dancing or never had the chance, we want to move with you. Come fly with us!
Purchasing new apparatuses
We are in need of new trapezes, as our current apparatuses have seen almost eight years of wear. Most of our traps were also made prior to the creation of our PSAF classes (Plus Size Aerial Fundamentals). We now have aerialists of many shapes and sizes across various levels of aerial classes. Trapezes are custom made and we anticipate spending between $1-2,000, including staff travel to pick up from Chicago as they often cannot be shipped without damage. Any of the above estimate not used for traps would be used for lyras and new aerial fabric (silks / hammock).
We were hoping to have the funds set aside to purchase new apparatuses on our own by spring of 2024, but costly air conditioning repairs have moved the date on these purchases. If selected, contacting our apparatus makers to get on their waitlists would be our first move.
Replacing exercise props
We provide all props needed for classes whenever possible. This is directly tied to our mission of keeping pole and aerial fitness inclusive for all, as the sunk costs of equipment and props may otherwise prohibit those with lower incomes.
We are due to purchase more yoga mats and yoga blocks. We are also still replenishing our prop closet from before the COVID pandemic shutdown. We are in need of new sets of yoga straps and bolsters, as these aid in making certain flexibility moves more accessible to certain body types. Depending on available funds, we would also like to purchase another pole crash mat, as we currently only have one. We anticipate spending between $500-$1,000 on props.
Continuing staff training
We operate on a community dance model and provide a number of free classes to staff each schedule in addition to monetary compensation. We hire internally whenever possible and run our Instructor in Training program annually. Our IIT program provides quality pole and aerial fitness education to all accepted applicants free of charge. This gives instructors a base of knowledge without requiring that they pursue costly, for-profit programs as new teachers.
We invite current staff to attend all IIT trainings as a way to continue adding to their repertoire. IIT trainings include topics such as: DG Pillars (intersectionality, feminism, anti-racism, body liberation, queerness and allyship); Classroom Culture (class structure, crafting a teacher persona, people weaving, classroom management); apparatus-based content (pole, flexibility, silks, hammock, trapeze, lyra).
While we encourage all instructors to continue their education after completing our in-house training, we also provide continuing education on topics such as: coaching plus size dancers and athletes, first aid, warm ups, rigging safety, etc. We compensate staff for running our in-house trainings and do not charge attendees. We do this on an as-available basis. We also host community building events and outings for staff to facilitate team building.
Additional grant funds not used for purchasing new apparatuses or props would go to funding additional in house-training.
While we have an incredibly talented staff, there are also topics our instructors want to pursue outside of our pool of knowledge. Our ability to bring traveling instructors and industry professionals into our space saves staff lodging and travel costs while also allowing DG students to learn new skills. Additional grant funds not used for purchasing or internal training would go to hosting professional polers and aerialists in our space.