By Meseret Carver,
Like some Davis High students, sophomore Isabel Lavallee started her childhood as a gymnast. She was born into a family of gymnasts but soon she found the effort was not worth the reward so she explored other paths. That is when she discovered Aerial Silks.
“This is what I want to do for a living,” Lavallee said. “It makes me feel happy but at the same time it’s challenging.”
After practicing gymnastics for ten years, Lavallee made the switch to Aerial art and never looked back. Now, she drives to Natomas four times a week for practices, conditions on her own at home twice a week and stretches every day for 15 minutes.
“She is always blossoming,” her coach Kat Boston said.
Boston has been coaching Lavallee for about a year and a half, but Aerial was not Boston’s first area of interest either.
Before she became an Aerial performer and started her own business and performing company, Boston was a firefighter for a decade and she coached Olympic lifting. Just like Lavallee, Boston stumbled into Aeriel as a hobby and never looked back.
For Boston, coaching experience, hard work and great mentors were the key to a smooth transition in careers.
Serenity Smith and Rachel Strickland were some of Boston’s mentors. Smith was a founder of New England Center for Circus Arts (Necca), an internationally recognized circus school and Strickland runs The Audacity Project, a program aiming to help new businesses in the arts.
“I would consider Kat a mentor to me,” Lavallee said.
Looking into a future as an Aerialist sets Lavallee apart from many DHS students. While many scramble to perfect their GPA’s to get into the perfect college, Lavallee heads in a different direction.
While she works hard, Lavallee does not feel the pressure to take rigorous classes or get perfect grades. Instead she plans on attending a community college after high school then go on to a circus school afterword.
“We are kind of exploring that and we’re open to a lot of options,” mother Teri Lavallee said. Like her daughter, Lavallee grew up performing gymnastics as did her husband, who is now the head coach of the UC Davis women’s gymnastics team.
“All these years of gymnastics just gave me this great appreciation for movement art and how the body works,” Lavallee said.
According to Lavallee, years of training in gymnastics matched with “phenomenal work ethic” has given Isabel the flexibility and grace to excel in Aerial performance.
Looking on to the future, Isabel plans to pursue a similar path to Boston. Although she is not fully concrete in her plan, she plans to graduate from a circus school and began performing and teaching.
Boston has no doubts of Isabel’s ability to achieve her goals but she advises Isabel to be gracious and respectful in her pursuit. Boston did not start teaching until she had the blessing of her mentors.
“Always remember where you came from and honor the people who paved the road,” Boston said, looking back on her experience.
To Boston, it is important to continue being a good student in order to be a good teacher. To accomplish this, she began taking classes at the École nationale de cirque (National Circus School) in Montreal and will graduate in the fall.
The École nationale de cirque is one of the schools that Isabel is exploring and according to Boston, graduating from a school like the École nationale de cirque which is certified and run by Cirque Du Soleil will open a lot of doors.
“I’m just really, really happy for her,” her mother said.
Isabel is now starting to perform and will participate in three performances in April.