Thrive Movement Studio opened in the summer of 2014 and is a dream come true for Heidi Kirchofer & Joel Melendez. It represents years of dreaming and scheming and lots of hard work by Heidi, Joel and Heidi's father Charles Kirchofer. The studio was designed and built almost completely by the trio. It was constructed with local wood milled by Charles and finished with eco-conscious products and materials. After so many years of performing and and teaching all over the place (and world), Heidi and Joel are thrilled to have a home studio in which to train and share their passions with their local community!

Heidi and Joel have been performing, training and teaching together since 2000. To see more about their performance work see:
We are located at 221 Burlington Rd. Harwinton, CT

Becca DeAngelis

Becca is a New York based aerialist. She has been teaching for over 20 years.
Her repertoire has grown to include: trapeze, lyra, silks, Spanish web, straps, hammock, and cube.
She has attended NECCA and Nimble Arts teacher trainings and currently instructs kids, teens, and adults in all things aerial.
Her specialties include strength moves, slowing down dynamic sequences, and reverse-engineering tricky skills.
It is her pleasure to open people's minds to the experience of all things aerial.
Becca enjoys adapting skills from one apparatus to another.

Christine B. Altman

Christine is an interdisciplinary creative whose work spans everything from Carnivál-inspired fantasy to serious examinations of social and cultural discourses. Her explorations range from leather character masks to house-sized conceptual installations. She is the recipient of two NEA grants—one in 2004 from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism for conceptual installation and another in 2022 from the Northwest CT Arts Council for costume design. She received an award of Excellence in the Arts from Women’s Caucus for Art, CT, has worked under international artists, Yoshiko Chuma, Mary Ellen Strom and Guillermo Gomez Peña. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States including The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge,
Woman-made Gallery, Chicago, and The Quick Center for the Arts, Fairfield. She was a 2003 intern administering the film festival Documentary Fortnight in the Department of Film and Media at MoMA under curator Sally Berger. She is skilled in a wide range of mediums and media. She loves using her skills to make young people’s imaginings come to life and has been doing so since 2010. In 2014 her children enrolled in circus arts and Altman began conceiving and constructing circus costumes for them and their friends.

Erin Mahoney

Erin is a freelance dance instructor, choreographer, and performer that has been dancing for over seventeen years. Erin has instructed and choreographed for numerous renowned dance studios and schools across Connecticut, both recreationally and competitively. Her training focuses on acrobatics, gymnastics, ballet, and modern dance.
Erin attended Naugatuck Valley Community College and graduated magna cum laude with an associate degree in dance. Since graduation, Erin has continued to train in ballet and modern and has since danced with the Olga Dunn Dance Company, Stepping Stone Performers, MB Dance Theater, Fisher Ballet Productions, and the Qualia Dance Collective.

Erin will be joining us for the Aerial Intensive and Cirque-opsia, working with students on contortion, ground choreography, acrobatics, partner acro and finding ease and grace in the air!

Jesse Cody

Jesse Cody hails from Columbus, Georgia and attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania where she discovered her love of circus and began taking aerial silks classes. While majoring in English and Theatre. Jesse also studied Commedia dell’Arte and Physical Theater in Arezzo, Italy at the Accademia del’Arte. She then went on to fuse theater and aerial performing an aerial-duet in college for the main stage production “Atlas.” After graduating she went on to perform for The Up Factory, GA, hanging off a billboard for Columbus’ Midnight Run. After moving to NYC, she broadened her repertoire to include aerial rope, spanish web, circus hammock, and lyra/hoop. She performed aerial rope at The House of Yes in Brooklyn, NY; aerial silks for Street Cirque’s production of “Boudicca” at the Muse in Brooklyn, NY; and has performed for numerous private events and festivals/street shows. She has also gone on tour with Westchester Circus Arts show “Circus Ta-Da” performing a spanish web solo. If she’s not performing in the air, you’ll find her doing the next closest things, walking on stilts or being thrown around in acrobatic stunts! In March of 2020, she co-founded her own Circus company, Circus Splendiferous LLC, with her husband, Mickey.

Margaret Hopkins

Margaret found circus arts as a young adult and fell in love. Chasing her dreams she has trained at several studios including Thrive before attending a full time program at The Sellam Circus School and recently completed the foundation course at Aircraft Circus Academy in London. Margaret has a background teaching outdoor and farm skills and brings that experience to her career in circus. Margaret is upbeat and loves working with students of all ages. Her specialties are flying trapeze, static trapeze, and lyra.

Heidi Kirchofer

A performing and teaching artist since 2000, Heidi has traveled internationally performing, collaborating and training. She is inspired by the moving body and it's vast capabilities. She loves the synthesis of creativity and physicality that circus explores. Circus, movement and aerials for her are creative outlets, a medium for healing the body and building strength, working though vulnerabilities and moving forward. As a teacher she focuses on alignment, building strength and flexibility and finding one's creative voice.
She has studied various aerial apparatus at the New England Center for Circus Arts since 2007- with so many amazing coaches- Jamie Hodgson, Lauren Breuning, Caroline Wright, Amy Hancock, Elsie & Serenity Smith and many more. She has also done Aerial Teacher Training with Nimble Arts as well as various rigging and safety classes. She is particularly interested in alignment, technique and longevity of physicality. She studies bio-mechanics and anatomy for fun. She has completed Yoga Teacher Trainings in Power Yoga and Taoist Yoga

Heidi is also co-founder of the touring duo, Matica Arts, whose focus is on Circus. Matica can be found performing at many festivals, events, and schools in the North East. see:

Joel Melendez

Co-founder of the touring duo Matica Arts, Joel has traveled the Americas performing, collaborating and training. He is a gifted performer known for his unicycling, clowning, improvisational, and acrobatic skills. Joel is a “physical artist” who loves exploring the vast capabilities of the human body. For many years he was the director of the Advanced Circus Program at the Children’s Circus of Middletown and teaches at many awesome organizations including Oddfellows Playhouse (, Green St Arts Center, and ASAP. He is also a Capoeirista and has been practicing 1999 and is a student of Mestre Pinga Fogo of Sao Paulo, BR and Austin,TX. When Mestre Pinga Fogo left CT, he bestowed the honor of taking over his students to Joel. Currently, Joel teaches Capoeira at Plus 1 Defense in West Hartford and at Thrive and organizes a huge yearly event, bringing Capoeria Masters and students from around the US and Internationally.

Allison McDermott

is a circus artist born, raised and trained in Middletown, Connecticut. She first learned to stilt, tumble and clown at the Oddfellows Playhouse Children’s Circus of Middletown. As an adult, she discovered her love for aerial arts and went on to graduate the New England Center for Circus Arts’ Professional Track Program, performing in both The Flying Nut and Gathered Safely In. She has since toured with ARTFARM’s Circus for a Fragile Planet: Submerged and performed in Soviet Bloc Party’s Missed Connections. In 2015, Allison co-directed and performed in Special Relativity, a full-length circus production in New Haven, CT. Most recently she choreographed and performed the aerial pieces in ARTFARM’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Allison currently resides in Middletown, CT where she teaches and performs aerials, stilt-walking, juggling and acrobatics throughout the New England area.