Faces of Menlo

Post image for Moni Santini-Kelly teaches circus arts in Menlo Park

At some point doesn’t every child fantasize about running away and joining the circus? In Menlo Park, they don’t have to run far thanks to circus arts classes taught by Moni Santini-Kelly (pictured top) at the Arrillaga Family Gymnasium covering such disciplines as aerial silks, rope trapeze and partner acrobatics.

There is some irony in the fact that Moni is teaching circus arts. She didn’t know anything about the subject when she moved to the Bay Area from Italy 11 years ago. In her native country she’d studied ballet and swam competitively (butterfly). But she discovered the Circus Center in San Francisco and took acrobatics from master instructor Lu Yi.

“He was in his 70s then and I was in my 40s,” she says. “He was a strict teacher. I liked that.”

Watching others on the aerial silks apparatus, she got hooked and is largely self-taught. She brings a bit of Lu Yi’s strictness to her teaching, setting firm physical requirements for all of her classes as well as asking students to sign an agreement regarding safe conduct and correct attire.

Children as young as 7 can take classes but she’s willing to teach adults as well. “For kids, the adrenaline kicks in, it feels adventurous while being safe,” she says. “For adults, as their skills develop, they feel more powerful than they did in the past.”

Moni is grateful to the facilities in Menlo with a gym that has high ceilings and an abundance of safety pads. “You can never have too many,” she says of the latter.

Her greatest challenges are not only that each student, be they child or adult, has differing abilities, but as they get better, so must Moni. “The more the students advance, the more I have to bring advanced material to teach them,” she says. “More of the acrobatics are in the air, and it’s a lot more technical.”

She adds with a smile: “That makes it harder for me to demonstrate!”

Photos of Moni Santini-Kelly and various students by Betsy Sergeant Snow (c) 2017 

{ Be the first to comment }

Hillview Middle School teacher Richard Vaughn takes the stage in “Annie”

Thumbnail image for Hillview Middle School teacher Richard Vaughn takes the stage in “Annie”

Occasionally someone we interview has roots that are deeply local. Such was the case when we stopped by Hillview Middle School to interview music teacher Richard Vaughn. We’d learned that he was going to be in the cast of Annie, the next production of the Woodside Community Theater. That was reason enough to catch up […]

Click to read more →

Pam Salvatierra’s newest project is helping to launch DemFems Silicon Valley

Thumbnail image for Pam Salvatierra’s newest project is helping to launch DemFems Silicon Valley

From the moment Pam Salvatierra moved to Menlo Park in 1994, she’s been active in her community. Maybe it’s collecting toiletries for the homeless. Or hosting a house party to spotlight the good work of some non-profit. And then there’s politics, specifically the state Democratic Party along with working to get specific candidates elected. So […]

Click to read more →

Shalini Bitzer continues a textile business that her grandfather started

Thumbnail image for Shalini Bitzer continues a textile business that her grandfather started

Shalini Bitzer unlocks the door of a rather nondescript building at the back of the Allied Arts Guild. Nothing indicates the beauty that lies behind — a cornucopia of textiles in a variety of colors, patterns and textures that Shalini sells at her India Silk studio. Her business is mostly retail and often with interior […]

Click to read more →

Always a local angle: this M-A grad was Playmate of the Month back in the day

Thumbnail image for Always a local angle: this M-A grad was Playmate of the Month back in the day

Hu Hefner’s passing brought back memories of one of the stars of M-A’s class of 1966. Under the name Jennifer Liano, Judy Young was Playmate of the Month in May, 1970. Today she posted on Facebook: “RIP Hef.” Judy’s daughter, Lydia McLaughlin is featured on the Real Housewives of Orange County, and Judy herself appears […]

Click to read more →

Next up for Diane Flynn: Reboot Accel roadshow to help women restart their careers with visits to six companies

Thumbnail image for Next up for Diane Flynn: Reboot Accel roadshow to help women restart their careers with visits to six companies

We first caught up with Menlo Park resident Diane Flynn two years ago when she was just getting what was then called Reboot Accelerator for Women off the ground. That program has blossomed into ReBoot Accel, which has served over 700 women in Silicon Valley, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, Atlanta and […]

Click to read more →

2017 Golden Acorn award winners will be recognized Thursday at Stanford Park Hotel

Thumbnail image for 2017 Golden Acorn award winners will be recognized Thursday at Stanford Park Hotel

Local teen Shay Patel (pictured above), whose organization Alley Oop Kids has been featured on InMenlo a number of times, is among the recipients of the 2017 Golden Acorn Awards presented by the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce. Most recently Shay ran an after-school camp for summer school kids in the Ravenswood School District in East […]

Click to read more →

Steve Westly focuses on clean technology while continuing to eye another run for elective office

Thumbnail image for Steve Westly focuses on clean technology while continuing to eye another run for elective office

If you want to know what Atherton resident Steve Westly thinks about various issues of the day, his thoughts are easy to find online — both through his Menlo Park-based venture capital firm, which focuses on clean technology, and elsewhere. You can even hear him in person this coming Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 pm […]

Click to read more →

Sociologist Cecilia Ridgeway studies status hierarchies and how they impact our lives

Thumbnail image for Sociologist Cecilia Ridgeway studies status hierarchies and how they impact our lives

Menlo Park resident Cecilia Ridgeway grew up in a Los Angeles suburb that was a melting pot of sorts, “bringing people together from very different social worlds,” she explains. “My interest in sociology traces back to that experience. When I went to college, I was trying to figure out what to study, stumbled on sociology, […]

Click to read more →

Dr. Ramesh Sharma demonstrates the mastery of twig art at Facebook Festivals

Thumbnail image for Dr. Ramesh Sharma demonstrates the mastery of twig art at Facebook Festivals

At Facebook’s County Fair a couple of weeks back, Dr. Ramesh Sharma was working on his twig art, constructing dinosaurs made of grass for the kids who were attending. Isn’t that what every retired nuclear physicist does? Dr. Sharma explained that he’d come from India to the Bay Area, where one daughter works for Facebook […]

Click to read more →

M-A senior Holly Newman reflects on her time as a Senate Page

Thumbnail image for M-A senior Holly Newman reflects on her time as a Senate Page

Editor’s note: We visited with Holly Newman, now a M-A senior, before she left for Washington, D.C. last winter to serve as a Senate Page. Home now, we caught up with her to hear about her experience in the nation’s Capital. Holly left Menlo Park last January excited to get a taste of politics. What […]

Click to read more →