Superhero By Night by Sarah Ann Jump
Meet Christopher Henry
Christopher Henry is computer programmer at a software company in Rochester, N.Y.
“As a child, I was very introverted and shy and bookish. So I did a lot of reading, a lot of staying indoors. I was not very physical at all. I didn’t really branch out until I got to college,” said Henry.
It was while taking a required wellness class at Rochester Institute of Technology that Henry realized how much he loved learning new things and using his body as a way to express himself.
“He’s a computer programmer by day, and a superhero by night.” -William D’Ovidio
As a child attending shows at the traveling circus, Christopher Henry never thought he would some day be involved in the performing art. After picking up many different skills through wellness classes in college, including bowling, billiards, archery, kung fu, and aerobics, Henry came across the opportunity to learn the circus arts when his friend William D’Ovidio opened up Aerial Arts of Rochester.
“I wanted to explore all these different disciplines and found I really liked learning new things,” said Henry.
When Henry’s friends first find out that he is a circus arts instructor, imagery of big tops, elephants and sideshows come to mind. However, the contemporary circus, or Cirque Nouveau, is character driven, pulls from modern dance, rarely uses animals and is usually performed in a theatre like setting.
Aerial Arts of Rochester
Many circus arts schools around the nation appeal to a wider audience than those who want to join the circus. Smaller performing troupes have popped up. Circus arts classes are offered as a way to get fit and have fun.
Aerial Arts of Rochester is a circus arts training school in Rochester, N.Y. owned by husband and wife team Jennifer and William D’Ovidio. They opened the studio in 2010 and recently moved to an expanded facility in January 2015. Aerial Arts of Rochester is a member of the American Youth Circus Organization and the European Federation of Professional Circus Schools Network.
They offer fitness classes in a variety of circus arts including aerial silks, aerial hoop, cloud swing, aerial yoga, as well as pole dancing. Classes are offered in six-week sessions of varying levels that allow students to progress from beginner to advanced.
“I found that I really had a passion for it,” said Henry. “I started as a student and I found that I really had a knack for explaining things and teaching others.” Owner William D’Ovidio invited him to be an instructor once he reached the advanced level.
“I like solving the puzzle and figuring out how things work which I think lends its self well to the teaching aspect that I do [at Aerial Arts of Rochester],” explained Henry. “Computer programming exercises me mentally…then I get to come [to Aerial Arts of Rochester] and do the same thing in a physical way. I think they go really well together.”
Henry credits the process of taking classes and then teaching to building up his interpersonal skills. Once a bookish teenager, he is now a circus arts performer that flies through the air in front of crowds of 1,000 or more people. He even met his girlfriend, Adrienne Olson, through Aerial Arts of Rochester.
“It’s our shared love of circus arts that brought us together,” he said. The couple now performs together, which Henry says take a great deal of trust.
“Anyone can do it. Everyone starts at a different place, and everyone has different motivations for coming here. Whatever reason you have for wanting to try this, don’t let your fear stop you.” -Christopher Henry
Reporter; Sarah Ann Jump