The state of Oklahoma has come to embrace the concept, training and equipment for Anatomy in Clay® (Learning System), by Zahourek Systems, Inc. over the past three years…Nearly fifty school districts have implemented the system into their Anatomy and Physiology education and feedback from students and educators alike is extremely positive.

Lara Skaggs, Oklahoma Program Manager, Health Careers Education

Q & A with Marie-Michelle Faber / Cirque de Soleil

Posted by: zsi | Posted on: August 29th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Marie-Michelle Faber began artistic gymnastics at the age of five and quickly developed elite skills.

Captivated by her sport, she devoted herself for 12 years to deepen her knowledge and agility.  A small jump in high diving allowed her to discover a new dimension of spatial orientation—dropping head first into the water!

Twisting, jumping and flipping between air and ground have enabled her to acquire courage, determination, perseverance, concentration and a finely tuned control of her body movements.

Since 1998, Marie-Michelle has performed as an aerialist specialist with the prestigious and well-known circus company, Cirque du Soleil.  She performs an average of 400 shows per year, 8 to 10 shows per week.

Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Being an aerialist is a risky job that requires mental focus, precision, accurate movements and a healthy body, as well as the ability to manage fatigue, stress, discomfort, excitement and pain.

Her circus career has been a journey of fulfilling learning and constant discoveries of the control and mastery of one’s body, emotions and thoughts.

Aside from circus, she received private training and formation by Guru Senthil Kumar (Ph.D) in traditional Ashtanga Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in Coonoor, India. She has also received specific formations in Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark and recently in Prenatal Yoga with Clare Newman.

With her dedication and creative spirit, Marie-Michelle worked in collaboration with co-founder Geneviève Bérubé. Together they have developed a new training method combining Aerial Arts with Yoga & Pilates called: AIR Yogalates.  AIR Yogalates is a creative training method that combines yoga, pilates and aerial arts, using a type of hammock suspended between 1 and 3 feet off the ground. It executes movements in suspension with or without contact with the ground and in inversion.

Earlier this year, Marie-Michelle Faber spent time in Denver with her Cirque de Soleil troupe.  As a mother-to-be, she wasn’t performing in the thrilling show “Amaluna,” but she took time to attend a workshop at the Formative Haptics Center in Denver. The workshop focused on female reproductive physiology.

Following the workshop, Marie-Michelle was kind enough to answer a few questions about the workshop experience and working with the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System.

Question: As a Cirque de Soleil performer and athlete, what drew you to Anatomy in Clay® Learning System?

Marie-Michelle Faber: The Anatomy in Clay approach is as much artistic and creative as it is informative, which, as a physical performer is an intuitive way to learn. Building with clay is definitely a great way to strengthen your knowledge of anatomy. I feel that we are able to reveal layers of knowledge just as you study and reveal the layers of the body with the clay-building system.

MM AIR Yogalates

Question: When and how did come across Anatomy in Clay and what did you think when you first learned about it?

Marie-Michelle Faber: I’ve been trying for quite some time (years) to catch a workshop with Anatomy in Clay, but with my busy schedule as an artist with Cirque de Soleil it became the biggest puzzle of my life!  Well this year finally happened! Yay!!! I was so excited!


Question: What do you see as the advantage of learning through clay-building approach?

Marie-Michelle Faber: Learning this way offers the advantage of allowing you to both simultaneously see and do.  It allows you a detailed glimpse into the complexity of our bodies.  It gives a new and different perspective of the complex maps and routes of your body.


Question: Why is it important for athletes to understand how anatomy comes together and how it functions?

Marie-Michelle Faber: When anatomy is introduced into your practice, it’s a way to nourish the mind-body connection with your breath. It is essential to have good bio-mechanical knowledge for high performance success.


Question: From your experience working with the system, what are the benefits of building parts of the anatomy with your own hands?

Marie-Michelle Faber:  Learning through your own hands makes you ask yourself more questions about your own body! It’s a great way to keep your mind active in connection with your body.


Question: What did you learn from the recent workshop on the female pelvis?

Marie-Michelle Faber: Well as a ”mama to be” very soon, this specific workshop attracted my attention deeply and because the moment of giving birth is ONE BIG EVENT in a woman’s life. Knowing how your pelvis is structured, where ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and muscles are located, helps you understand the movements and range of motion you have as well as the space carrying all those organs inside you!


Question: The Anatomy in Clay Learning System tag line is “the mind cannot forget what the hands have learned.”  Have you found that to be true?

Marie-Michelle Faber:  Of course! I could say your brain in your hands!


Question: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your experiences with Anatomy in Clay?

Marie-Michelle Faber: I would certainly recommend taking workshops and classes with the Anatomy in Clay system. Jon Zahourek is a passionate and incredibly giving teacher.  His team is there to support you all along. Thank you for the memorable experience!

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