Gallatin Senior Defies Gravity and Expectations

Circus life and college life? Ingrid Amelia Apgar can do both.


Gallatin senior Ingrid Amelia Apgar is a circus artist training and performing at Circus Warehouse of NYC. Apgar shapes her studies around movement and physics, and works as a technician at the Labowitz theatre, taking interest in all aspects of her performing art. (Photo by Yechiel Michael Husarsky)

Elif Kesikbas, Staff Writer

College life is like walking on a tightrope: balance is everything. While many students are trying to find the perfect balance between their academics, social lives and career paths in the circus of university life, Gallatin School of Individualized Study senior Ingrid Amelia Apgar defies gravity and expectations as a circus artist at Circus Warehouse.

Apgar started her journey in circus arts with the trapeze classes she took at Trapeze School New York in Boston. Immediately drawn to the excitement of aerial arts, she expanded her skills with a silks course in Santa Monica. Apgar then fully immersed herself in aerial arts with a series of summers at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts’ summer camp, where she went from being a beginner-level aerial arts student to getting hired as an instructor teaching/coaching 100 campers. However, her professional career as a circus arts performer kicked off when she met Suzi Winson.

“I met the woman who owns the Circus Warehouse in Queens, and her name is Suzi Winston [sic],” Apgar said. “And she was like, ‘If you are family to these guys, you are family to me; come do flying trapeze!’”

Since June 2018, Apgar has been a part of the professional program at Circus Warehouse in Long Island City under the mentorship of Suzi Winson.

While Apgar is now a part of the adrenaline-filled atmosphere of the circus arts, she started her performance arts career with ballet when she was two-and-a-half years old.

“So they [Apgar’s parents] took me to class and maybe the first few classes, I refused to get off of their lap,” Apgar said. “So I would just sit on their lap and watch the class. And then after class was over and the teacher was gone and all the kids out, I would run up to the ballet bar and try to imitate what I had seen and dance myself.”

Even though Apgar spent the first few classes sitting on her parents’ lap, she embarked on a 15-year-long journey in ballet that would shape her as a performance artist and inspire her studies at Gallatin.

During her high school years, she started easing out of ballet and building an interest in aerial acts. At the same time, Apgar joined a dance program at her school, where she explored “what she thought dance was” and how “choreography related to the embodied sense of movement,” which allowed her to encourage herself to break out of the strictly classical regimen of ballet.

“Since I grew up in ballet, I grew up with a very specific idea of what dance was and what choreography was worth watching on stage or putting on stage,” Apgar said. “In high school I had a very postmodern dance program, but I didn’t have the term ‘postmodern’ to describe it, necessarily.” 

When beginning her studies at Gallatin, Apgar had the opportunity to build the theoretical tools to put her high school experience into a linguistic and psychological framework, which then inspired her concentration “Fragile Bodies, Transient Matters.” 

Using her concentration, Apgar challenges the relationship between “spaces in the body and spaces that the body can construct in the context of performance,” and explores the ways that technological entities affect performances. She dives deeper into the topics of theoretical physics, how spaces define different things and radioactivity.

“So the idea of a very small amount of entropy and decay, it all sort of comes together in nuclearity as an idea,” Apgar said.

Just as her career in performance arts have influenced her studies, her studies have influenced her stage presence. Apgar directed “Of Our Bodies” in May 2019 for  the Dancers/Choreographers Alliance at NYU, in which she concentrated on improvised movements onstage.

In addition to the performance side of the arts, Apgar is also interested in their technical components. Apgar works as an audio-visual technician at the Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts, where she stage and house manages the events held all year round. She also works part-time at Secret Loft, where she stage-manages the biweekly shows “Secret Circus” and “Street Meat” at nights. 

You can catch Apgar stage managing at Secret Loft or performing every month at Circus Warehouse — once social life resumes!

A version of this article appears in the Monday, March 30, 2020 e-print edition. Email Elif Kesikbas at [email protected]