Sonja has had movement at the forefront of her life for as long as she can remember - growing up as a competitive figure skater in Austria, she later moved on to compete in show dance with her group Royal Jokers Dance Crew. Subsequently she's expanded her interests to include her current obsession with handstands which has brought her to travel the world in order to learn from several renowned teachers. She shared her journey, including many interviews with handbalancers all around the world, through her work at Handstand Diary. Acting as the Founder, CEO, and Head Coach at nook.
Sonja currently resides in the beautiful foothills of the Alps with her husband and now business partner, Ivo. She has found her purpose in showing up daily for her students to guide them to their full potential and in building a community of movers from all around the world through nook.
since 2013: Personal Trainer
2009-2016: Master of Science in Sports and Nutrition Science, University of Vienna, Austria
2010-2012: Certified Personal Trainer, Austrian Academy of Sports
1996-2009: International Competitive Figure Skater under Coach Elena Romanova
2009: Certified Dance Instructor, University of Sports Vienna, Austria
2009-2015: International Competitive Dancer at the Royal Jokers Dance Crew, sponsored by Boris Nebyla e.u.
Ongoing education through attendance of several workshops, courses or training one-on-one, including Ido Portal, movnat, Yuri Marmerstein, Emmet Louis, Mikael Kristiansen, Ulrik Ask Fossum, Yuval Ayalon, Miguel Santana, Handstand Factory, Coach Bachmann, Harry Williams, Mau Jara (INAC Circus School, Portugal), Kiyv Academy for Circus and Variety Arts
Juliette was studying Fine Arts in Paris when she was introduced to circus. She started taking contortion classes with Weiwei LIU and Lin YUNG BIAU at the School of Chinese Performing Arts in Paris in 2014, parallel to her art studies. Gradually, contortion became more than a hobby for her when she realized how it helped her understand the body. What she learned technically at school during morphology classes and anatomical drawings could be experienced during contortion and helped heighten her body awareness further.
During an Erasmus exchange between art schools in Iceland in 2016, Juliette added dance, yoga and balances to her contortion practice and trained with the members of Sirkus Islands. She obtained her Master in Fine Arts in 2018 in Reykjavik and Paris with a diploma based on performance, and the image of a moving body.
In 2018 she went to China to study with the acrobatic troupe in Tianjin alongside other students and Weiwei, her contortion teacher. She followed the professional training of comedy Faun in Montreuil, School of Circus and Movement Arts, taking classes in classical and contemporary dance at the same time which were a very valuable contribution to her education. All of her different experiences sparked her interest in sharing what she learned and caused her to start teaching flexibility with a focus on building a healthy and sustainable practice.
In September 2021 she decided to settle on the Nice coast, where she was born and raised and is currently attending an Ashtanga Yoga Paris training with Gerald Disse & Linda Munro in the studio in Golfe Juan, which she started in April 2022.
Nati started her movement journey while she was studying for her engineering degree; it started through sports and arts such as fitness, karate, yoga, contemporary dance and traditional Colombian dance. When she finished her degree in 2012, she started to learn pole dance and changed her whole perspective of movement, training and life in general which led her to leaving her job to focus completely on pole and movement.
When she commited to her movement journey, she got certified in different disciplines, becoming an advanced pole instructor, a yoga trainer, and personal trainer. Her passion for movement and dance fuels her to constantly grow and expand her knowledge, by attending flexibility courses, contemporary dance seminars and deepening her knowledge in the field of exotic and pole sport. Currently she is expanding her professional development in the practice of floor acrobatics and handstands.
Her journey in Pole dance brought her closer to burlesque and other ways to explore sensuality and teasing. It also led her to become a participant of several competitions and shows of Pole and Burlesque on stages across Latin America and Europe over the past 11 years, where she has obtained several titles nationally and internationally.
She also joined her passion to her engineering degree Co - organizing two international pole dance championships: Exotic Convention Argentina from 2015 to 2017 and Exotic Generation Colombia 2020.
Nati always looks for ways to learn new movement languages and pedagogical strategies to improve her teaching and guide the people she works with towards wellness.
CESAR ALEXANDER CORTÉS
Alex has dedicated his whole life to movement and has had a wide range of education within the field of circus. His circus journey started out at “Circo Ciudad” in Bogotá and then moved on to “Circo para todos” in Cali, where he completed his education and started his artist career, specialized in trapeze, basic acrobatics, hand to hand and juggling.
His curiosity and passion for movement drove him to deepen his knowledge in the academic and teaching field and get a degree in Physical Education at the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional. Further he joined the Bogotá gymnastics league, where he did artistic gymnastics and trampoline.
After a knee injury, he devoted himself to the practice of handbalance, which led him to learn from the top teachers in Colombia and focus more of his teaching on handbalance development.
Alex is constantly working to evolve both, as a practitioner and a teacher and has started his own teaching programs, such as:
Gymnastics for life: for teenagers and adults, with different moving backgrounds; looking for improve their health and relationship with their body
Looking after your seed: a gymnastic program for kids (5 to 7)
Upside down world: achieving balance through the experience with handstands and its variations
For Alex, teaching is about more than just technique. He creates a loving and fun space for each individual to develop their unique capabilities.
2017 Licenciado en educación física Universidad pedagógica nacional
2016 curso nacional de juzgamiento y gimnasia artística por niveles USAG
2009 cuerpo voz y mente para la escena circo: servicio nacional de aprendizaje SENA
Workshops and classes with : Jose Miguel Martinez, Gabriela Diaz (Duo Jose y Gaby), Ricardo Novak, Yenzer Pinilla(hombre búho), Julian (salt and water)
Ivo is originally from Austria and has long been fascinated with not only the art, but the science of photography and film. Several years ago he began working as a photographer and videographer, shooting for Handstand Diary as he and Sonja traveled the world. It was during that time that he realized film was the amalgamation of his appreciation for not only capturing the moment, but also sharing it with others.
Similarly, Ivo loves optimizing processes and has a natural affinity towards all things tech and numbers. He is therefore perfectly suited to be the one behind the scenes (and behind the lens) at nook, making sure that the website and video platforms stay up-to-date. Ultimately, he strives to provide you with an excellent quality interface and digital experience so you can stay focused on what's truly important.
2013-2018: Managing Technical Ingenieur in Constructions at Sozialbau AG
2018-2019: Trip around the world; shooting & editing countless interviews for Handstand Diary
2018-2019: Freelance Photographer and Videographer shooting for clients, such as Handstand Factory, Montée, Bali Handstand Retreat and several weddings
2019: Inventory Manager, Photographer and IT Manager at Sarah's Silks