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Melina of Daughters of Rhea / Moody Street Circus



Moody Street Circus studio is the family-run studio circus and dance training home of Melina and Sacha Pavlata.  Our dance lessons are earthy, energetic and fun and our aerial circus arts class sizes are kept deliberately small so we can train students with the maximum of care. 

At Moody Street Circus we teach the joy of life through circus arts and belly dance to children, teens and adults of all ages. Heart, humor and inclusive community spirit are at the core of our teaching.   We celebrate students' strengths, inspire them to delight in the process and challenge of discovery and learning.  Beyond acrobatic/aerial skills and strength & flexibility training, we pay attention to elegant transitions and artistic self-expression with an eye toward performance.

Moody Street Circus Directors Sacha and Melinda (AKA Melina of Daughters of Rhea) share extraordinary family legacies in circus and dance.

Alexandre Sacha Pavlata is a fifth-generation Czech circus artist, aerialist and world-renown circus arts teacher.  His family legacy can be traced back through generations of daring aerialists, comedians, acrobats and foot jugglers from Hungary and Czechoslovakia.  He is a member of the Legendary Flying Wallenda High Wire family.  He has performed in multiple major European circuses since he was a child, and appeared as a circus artist in the major motion pictures Big Top Pee Wee and Annie. 

Sacha's circus teaching career spans over 4 decades, starting with the Ecole Nationale de Cirque in France.  He was brought to the U.S. by the the Big Apple Circus in the 1980s.  There he was tentmaster and aerial star on cloud swing.  He directed the Big Apple Circus' School of Circus Arts.  Sacha trained the stars of Broadway's Barnum. Sacha cofounded Circus Flora in St Louis and was master teacher for Circus Flora's Circus Arts School as well as at St Louis's prestigious Center of Creative Arts and Sacha's own School of Circus Arts in Missouri. Sacha's attention to safety in circus rigging is well-known in the circus world. Sacha created an unmatched double cloudswing act with Aurelia Wallenda-Zoppe that consistently inspired standing ovations in Circus Flora in the 1990s and was invited to the presitigious Cirque du Demain competition in France.

Sacha grew up with his traveling circus family in a wooden circus wagon which crisscrossed Europe and North Africa presenting their famous unicycle and trampoline act under big tops all over the globe. From horses to high wire and everything in between, Sacha has since performed nearly every kind of circus act you could imagine, including touring with the legendary Flying Wallendas as an integral part of their breath-taking seven-person pyramid on the high wire.  Sacha was a member of the Flying Wallenda team that won Monte Carlo's coveted Silver Clown at the International Circus Festival.

Sacha's circus heritage goes back 5 generations on both sides.  His mother, Hungarian-born Anna Dubsky, came from a long line of Risley Act performers (the acrobatic foot juggling of people), and his father, Czech-born Karl Pavlata, descended from a family of aerialists known for their great physical strength and versatility in the air.

Melinda "Melina" Pavlata, Ph.D. (AKA Melina of Daughters of Rhea) is a 2nd generation circus and belly dance artist. She grew up in the circus and dance worlds performing constantly with her traveling family in the U.S. and Greece.  Passionate about pedagogy and academic pursuits, Melinda is a writer and holds a doctorate in medieval French literature from UPenn.  After a successful stint teaching at the University of Pennsylvania and Boston College, Melinda felt the primal pull of circus and movement arts and fully re-committed herself to her childhood legacy in circus arts and bellydance.  Melinda loves empowering people to embody their best, most creative and vital selves both in the air and on the ground.

Melinda was a child acrobat in San Francisco's Pickle Family Circus where her father was the  bandleader (and participating juggler).  She danced alongside her mother Rhea and sister Piper in front of hundreds of tourists every night on multiple taverna stages in the ancient city of Athens, Greece.  When she was in the states, she trained in circus arts with master teacher Hovey Burgess at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She met her husband Sacha Pavlata while performing on Circus Flora and after many years touring together with their trapeze duet they settled in Waltham, MA and founded Moody Street Circus. (That's the short story, of course!)

Melinda has toured around the world as an aerialist, acrobat and belly dancer.  She has danced in the ring with horses and elephants and performed on static trapeze and lyra with Circus Flora, The Wallenda Family Circus, Cirque Rocks in New Zealand, Amazing Grace Circus in Nyack, NY, Cirque Passion and Moody Street Circus.   She has been featured in the documentary Run Away Circus as well as So Much, So Fast.  She has also toured with the Flying Wallendas as a Platform Wallenda, an honor and tradition her daughter Zoe also carried on.  Melinda's daughter Zoe Heywood is an accomplished aerialist as well, who has trained around the world, performed in  circus rings since babyhood, and recently toured as an aerialist doing a solo silks act with the Flying Wallendas.

Melina is on the faculty of Kripalu where she teaches an annual 5-day retreat "Wild Hips, Gypsy Heart: Belly Dance as Self-Empowerment." 


For more on Melina's belly dance family visit

STUDIO TELEPHONE: 781 893 2491

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