Aloft Dance

Aloft Dance

 Chicago, Illinois, USA

Aloft is a collective of artists who chose to express themselves vertically as well as horizontally, and without regard to gravity. We construct accessible, purposeful stories drawing on the juxtaposition of artistic,emotional and physical extremes, and perform them between the ground and the sky.


Shayna Swanson, the Founder and Artistic Director of Aloft Dance, creates and performs aerial and circus acts that are as technically difficult as they are beautiful. Eleven years of intensive study and practice of Circus arts in the US and Europe, as well as rigorous training in modern dance and gymnastics, have culminated in thrilling release moves and passionate,intricate choreography. Ms. Swanson is a focused and engaging performer whose level of strength and daring puts her at the top of her field; she is also a skilled and imaginative director. Her work has been featured at The Lyric Opera (Chicago, IL), Pegasus Variete (Germany) and the Olympic Greek Festival (Hong Kong) and many other noted venues and circus companies around the globe. Past Gala clients have included Mori Seiki, Harrah’s, Absolut Vodka and the Izod/Indy 500. Ms. Swanson began Aloft Dance in 2005. Starting out in a small room in another aerial studio, Aloft Dance now has its own home, the Aloft Loft, which has become Chicago’s premier training and teaching center for physical performance and aerial and circus arts. Ms.Swanson’s talent as a performer, teacher and director has attracted world-class talent to her studio. Aloft Dance is now Chicago’s leading contemporary circus company, thrilling spectators with their style and grace from Chicago to Shanghai.

Starting in the early 90’s and continuing through the mid-part of 2008, the New Circus Movement, embodied by Cirque du Soleil, involved lavish, technically complex productions. Aloft's work has a different focus; it stems from the philosophy that at circus’ core is the relationship between the performers and the audience. This became our focus and inspiration: to create a different kind of circus where the spectacle and “wow” were contained in the intensity, difficulty, beauty and captivating nature of the performances. The performers clearly communicate with the audience, and the audience, through loud applause, gasps, tears and laughter, communicates with the performers. This is the dialogue Aloft is looking to engage in with its audience, and is what makes our shows unique—everyone, regardless or education, age, culture or background can participate in it. The audience is left thrilled, chilled and awed. This is circus as it has always been intended--powerful, dangerous, intense, hilarious and passionate.