Take to the sky with High Expectations Aerial Arts in Memphis, an aerial arts studio offering a broad spectrum of classes and performance opportunities for all ages, genders, and levels that celebrate the feats our bodies are capable of. 

Studio owner Sarah Bolton grew up practicing ballet and modern dance and was involved in dance education for many years. Yet, everything changed when she discovered the magic of aerial arts with Val Russell at Push Pilates in Memphis 11 years ago. 

“I instantly fell in love. It was so much fun and very hard. I couldn’t do much, but I accepted the challenge.” 

Although she had ample leg strength from being a dancer, Sarah had to build the upper body strength needed to move suspended in the air. 

“Aerial arts are different from most forms of modern dance, where you are working against a horizontal plane using the floor. Aerial artists work with a vertical plane that explores space by moving up and down. You need to be able to hold your body weight up in space while doing creative things.” 

The Switch 

When High Expectations was at risk of closure five years ago, Sarah moved from patron to owner. “They were going to either shut it down or someone had to buy it. I realized that if I didn’t buy, the studio and its amazing community would disappear.” 

Sarah left her full-time job in business and bought the studio in 2019. Eventually, she moved them into a bigger location with 25- foot ceilings and beautiful, open spaces. 

Higher Expectations serves everyone ages 6 to adult, from the absolute beginner looking for a fun, recreational activity to the most advanced performers. 

Aerial conditioning, aerial yoga, mobility work, flexibility training, and other aerial-supportive, cross-training classes are available to assist patrons in their sky-high journeys. “People can find what they’re excited about and plug into that.” 

“Our classes progress while giving people enough time to acclimate the body in small doses to hold positions and accomplish certain pull-up movements. Over time, their bodies will adjust. 

Between teaching, owning a business, and managing her own training, Sarah has learned to become laser-focused on her practice by setting a few movement goals at a time. She is currently training for her exciting showcase, Tangled Roots, Whispering Leaves, coming to the studio on Saturday, April 13, at 6:00 p.m. “It merges my two worlds,” the play’s dual themes of environmentalism and creative expression. 

Despite the demands of owning a business, Sarah is continually inspired by the amazing aerial community of friends and fellow performers. “I do it because this studio brings so much joy to people’s lives.” 

Sarah hopes others can find the same respite in aerial arts as she did. “It’s not about how skinny you are; it’s more about how strong and flexible you are and what cool, amazing things your body can do in space besides looking a certain way. It’s been such an empowering and healing practice for me because I get to be surrounded by these powerful, creative women who are learning to love their bodies in a new way.” 

IG: @highexpectationsaerial Highexpectationsaerialarts.com