Aerialist Eugenia Rincón finds a home in Philadelphia

Her journey started in Venezuela, and now Rincón teaches weekly adult aerial and flexibility classes in Manayunk and Queen Village. Story by Courtney Murphy

Every ball sport Eugenia Rincón tried, whether it was soccer or basketball, just was not for her. Even playing volleyball for four years didn’t do the job. 

She was terrible at all of them, except for acrobatics. 

The Venezuela native worked her flexibility throughout grade school. When she was 15, her mom took her to a brand new studio just around her house, where they taught an aerial class. That flexibility shined through and caught the eyes of the teacher, who praised her strength. 

From that moment on, her love for aerials turned into a full-time career. Through networking and the Internet, she packed her belongings and traveled 2,400 miles from Venezuela to Philadelphia, where she now has two jobs. 

Rincon teaches weekly adult aerial and flexibility classes at Awakenings Pole Fitness in the city’s Manayunk section, and she’s also the Class and Camp Director at Philly in Movement, a children’s gymnastics studio in Queen Village.

“It’s very fun to teach adults because they’re like friends,” Rincón said. “That’s what my students are now after two years of teaching them. They now are my friends, and I love them.”

Rincón was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. During her college years, she continued practicing aerial performance. The class was so popular that she and her friends would get up at 5 a.m. to register for the class. 

“I was the first in line to sign up for the class,” Rincón said. 

However, a career as an aerialist or a dancer in Venezuela was near impossible. Rincón said that many studios were closing when she found the performance. 

“If you want to work in performing, it’s really hard,” Rincón said. “It’s hard because insecurity and inflation make it hard when they pay you because they may pay you today, and tomorrow the labor is less, so you’re losing.” 

In 2013, Venezuela fell under the rule of Nicolas Maduro, the right-hand man to the previous president Hugo Chavez before his death in 2013. Chavez and his party had control over multiple institutions. However, under Maduro’s rule, the economy collapsed. That caused a shortage of basic supplies and forced more than 5 million people, including Rincón, to leave. 

Rincón visited America during vacations and summers. She took a couple of classes at studios across the country, which only extended her passion for aerials. 

“I really liked the vibe of the people here [in America]. They take it seriously.” Rincón said. 

She intended to stay in America for the summer, but after learning about the opportunities to build a career, she applied for a work visa. Rincón is coming on the O1 Visa, which allows individuals with talents in sciences, business, arts, or athletics to live in the states.

The process of getting the Visa took almost nine months for Rincón. The process involved gathering paperwork and documents about her work as an aerialist in Venezuela. Even though it was a scary process, she was proud that her persistence and determination got her one step closer to her dream. 

“Anybody who wants to get to their dream, they want to go to a country, investigate really hard,” Rincon said. “You can do it.” 

For her first month in the states, she felt like she was still on vacation. She felt like a tourist, oohing and aahing over every little part of Philadelphia. Then, reality hit afterward when she had to start figuring out how she would build a living. 

“You’re totally starting from zero, and it’s scary,” Rincón said. “But it’s also a little adventurous. In the beginning, it’s going to be hard. But after, it’s great.”

As a requirement for the Visa, she had to have a job offer. Through the Internet, Rincón found a job at Awakenings Pole Fitness as an aerial instructor in Philadelphia. 

“I got to Philly because it was one of the places I have friends,” Rincón said. “I said, ‘Well, if I’m going to try a country, at least I have some friends here. So, I can have support.”

And through another job posting, she found Philly In Movement. She applied as an aerial instructor and got the job. She later expanded her position to Class and Camp Director. 

“I applied, and the owner liked my job, and she hired me,” Rincón said.

She teaches children from ages 5 to 14 three different styles of aerial at Philly in Movement. Her class structure combines strength training, flexibility, and conditioning; then, they proceed with the aerial movements. 

“Kids are so strong, and they don’t know it,” Rincón said. “But when you train them really well, they’re like stars. I love teaching.”

Rincón was very impressed with all her students, and it inspires her to form a competition team down the line. This team would travel across the country and compete in all styles of aerial. 

“My goal is to make a team of aerials and compete,” Rincón said. “They are international competitions. There’s a big one in Las Vegas.” 

That competition in Las Vegas is called Viva Fest. This competition allows novice aerials to compete and be judged based on difficulty, execution, and artistry. She hopes in one to two years to attend the competition with a trained aerial team. 

“COVID has stopped what I was starting,” Rincón said. “So now I’m starting from the beginning. That means teaching them the basics from intermediate level. It’s hard work.” 

Rincón is very familiar with the competition atmosphere. When she was in Venezuela, she trained to compete in Ecuador. 

In her very first competition, she took home second place honors. She was able to win and grow her network and has maintained relationships with them. 

“It was a great experience,” Rincón said. “It was more about going to another country and meeting other people with the same passion as you. We also did worship with the judges.”

In April 2020, she would’ve had the chance to compete again if COVID had not occurred. Rincón was going to compete in the aerials silks, which is performed on a special type of fabric.  

When asked about her favorite move, Rincón quickly responded with splits. She was referred to as ‘bendy girl’ by her teachers back in Venezuela. All splits that could be done, Rincón probably has tried. Any split or trick on TikTok or Instagram, she’s probably done too. 

“I work hard for the stuff I want,” Rincón said. “If I see something on Instagram that I want to do, I will try a thousand times. You can see on my phone gallery is full of videos of me trying to do the skill until I feel it’s perfect.” 

After that skill is perfected, she’ll post it to her Instagram. She’ll even teach those tricks to her adults and kids. She describes it as a mental game because she has to demonstrate the skills based on the education level. 

“I really like to teach,” Rincón said. “I like to show people new stuff all the time and open their minds about everything. I always make them work really hard and give them a goal.” 

2021 will be Rincón’s third year living in the states. She lives with her husband, John, and has formed many friendships. Rincón lives by the motto of following one’s dream and making it a reality. 

“I know it sounds really cheesy, but it’s true,” Rincón said. “If you do the correct things, you will get to your dream.”

And she certainly has done that.

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