Our Woman of the Week this week, aerial artist and writer Jeanette Bent, grew up right here in Santa Cruz. She graduated from Harbor High and moved to LA for college, beginning a ten-year journey that would eventually bring her full circle. After receiving her BA in Journalism with a minor in Dance, Jeanette moved to New York to write for Dance Magazine. But while she was rubbing elbows and interviewing the big industry names, she realized that what she really wanted was to be dancing herself.
“I’ve been a dancer all my life,” Jeanette says.
Her new adventure began when she found resort work in Cancun and the Bahamas as a choreographer for Circus Studios. Shortly after she was hired, the circus girl quit and she was “punked” into taking on the aerial performance. Talk about learning on the job! It seems she was a natural though, because she continued doing the performances.
Meanwhile, she met her future husband, who was working as a chef for the same company. Sounds like a steamy romance novel—choreographer/chef duo working circus performances in the Turks and Caicos. But work in the tourism industry gets old, and Jeanette moved back to New York, where she was able to pick up almost right where she left off.
While in New York, Jeanette trained formally in aerial dance, as well as pole. She continued her relationship long distance, and luckily her Canadian-born, resort-cooking romantic partner was ready to get out of the tourism industry as well. He left the company after working there for ten years, and they eloped in New York.
Then came a baby—which brings us full circle back to Santa Cruz, via LA, where Jeanette started teaching pole and aerial. When she arrived in Santa Cruz, she saw that there was nothing around town in the way of aerial arts. “I was really nervous to be back here.”
But she found a co-op of women using space in the old Wrigley building, Aerial Playground, with only two classes on the schedule. She attended a beginning silks class and was practically hired on the spot. Eventually she took over and founded Aerial Arts Santa Cruz. Around the same time, she also founded Stellaria Entertainment and Production, where she curates aerial musical performances. “That’s the combination of writing, dance, and movement that has worth for me… That’s the marriage that feeds my soul.”
Last December, when she was pregnant with her second baby boy, she sold Aerial Arts and devoted herself to her true passion. In 2018, Stellaria will be launching an aerial theater program, culminating in an extravagant performance, which is then packaged for resorts.
But what does Jeanette do in her free time (if she has any)? “I love just going to the park with my boys… And reading.” A life-long learner, she’s always studying something new.
We can’t wait to see what comes next!