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Meet Lena Alani

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lena Alani.

Lena, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always been fascinated with arts, theatre, dance and film. Growing up in Russia, a homeland of world-famous dancers and gymnasts, it’s hard not to be inspired by beautiful ballerinas, ice skaters and rhythmic gymnasts. To me, art of any form is a pathway towards freedom and enlightenment, its the way to communicate with the world, to express yourself truthfully.

For a while, I did not know exactly what my purpose was. I knew I was drawn to dance and visual arts, but I had no idea where to start, why or how. I went to study linguistics in Moscow, where I have learned English, which came useful when I moved to the states in my early 20s. That’s where I decided to follow my calling, I started taking all sorts of movement classes: yoga, ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, etc. And one day, I was introduced to circus arts. The day I tried aerial silks, I fell in love hard. I knew exactly what I needed to do. Everything seemed to make sense and I just wanted to get better at it. It was so rewarding to see that aerial practice had tremendous effect on my physical and mental health, it made me look and feel amazing. I felt more at ease, I started to really fall in love with every part of my body and was in awe of what it is capable of.

Aerial arts is a very challenging form of physical expression, and I think that was the driving force for me. The harder the moves seemed to be, the more motivation I felt, the more I wanted to “get it”. Little by little, my hobby became my passion, my passion became my career, and my career became my lifestyle.

My professional aerial career began in 2012, with the Liquid Sky Entertainment Company, where I performed various acts for their entertainment events and shows all over the Southeast. I also have completed teacher’s training at the local circus studio: Sky Gym in Atlanta, GA, where I lived at the time, and started to coach there as well. In 2013 I met Rain Anya, who was one of the founders of the company Paper Doll Militia. I have been fascinated with their work, as Paper Doll Militia’s innovative approach to choreography and poignant use of theatrics have gained the company the reputation of being pioneers in original aerial theatre. I was inspired by their art, which is dreamy, whimsical, and dark. Their pieces seamlessly weave dynamic physicality, aerial arts, and visual theatre. It was my dream to work with them. Soon enough Paper Doll Militia was casting aerialists for the ensemble “CROSSROADS”, directed by Rain Anya. I auditioned and got the part. It was a dream come true. After a creation and development process, we presented the show at fringe festivals across the US with great success. And I knew my work had just begun, I knew I was on the right pathway.

The company relocated from Atlanta to Los Angeles in 2015, so I packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles, following my dreams. Since then, I have been closely involved with the company, working on creative projects and full aerial theatre productions, like the new show “WARPED” we recently toured over the US, as well as developing and presenting my own work. I have been a full-time performer and instructor since fully committing myself to this craft, and this journey has been nothing but magic. The pathway of an artists is a challenging one for sure, but I love every minute of it.

Not only do I love to perform, but I also love to share my love for Aerial Arts. I specialize in coaching various levels of vertical apparatus, which include aerial fabric, aerial hammock/sling and rope, also known as corde lisse. It is very important for me to be able to create a fun and safe environment for students, and approach a class with compassion, encouragement and patience, so every student feels welcomed, regardless of their background and skill level. I currently coach in Los Angeles at local studios like “Womack and Bowman”, “Kiship Studios”, “UpFlying. Yoga”, as well as teach traveling workshops around the US.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The pathway of an artists is never an easy one. I had to sacrifice a lot. But it is all worth it and I love every minute of it. When I relocated to Los Angeles from Atlanta to follow my dreams, I was newly married to a wonderful partner, but the long distance relationship was hard on both of us, so my marriage ended two years after the move.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a full-time contemporary circus performer, aerialist and a coach. My love and passion for dance, physical theatre and circus arts have influenced my style in the air, which is powerful and dynamic, yet soft, fluid and graceful. I love to perform, but I also love to share my love for Aerial Arts. I specialize in coaching various levels of vertical apparatus, which include aerial fabric, aerial hammock/sling and rope, also known as corde lisse.

It is very important for me to be able to create a fun and safe environment for students, and approach a class with compassion, encouragement and patience, so every student feels welcomed, regardless of their background and skill level. I currently coach in Los Angeles at local studios like “Womack and Bowman”, “Kiship Studios”, “UpFlying. Yoga”, as well as teach traveling workshops around the US.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Ability to adapt to new conditions, to reinvent yourself continuously as an artist and as a person. Persistence, trust in oneself and focus. What you focus on you attract and I am a believer in the law of attraction. Dreams do come true only when you focus on them.

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Image Credit:
Joseph Lee, Trent Chau

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