June 25, 2013
Amber Lennon, OVN correspondent
After years in acrobatics performing with Cirque de Soleil and tours with high profile artists including Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue, Terry Kvasnik, aka the “Flipping Monk, landed in Ojai with a vision of sharing his talents to help children recognize their potential through movement.
He grew up in Manchester, England tumbling and training in competitive gymnastics from the age of 3. As a teenager, he began learning break dancing and earned a black belt in the Ma’at system of martial arts. To attain that level, Kvasnik was required to teach and mentor younger martial arts students, and this experience became the foundation of his desire to work with children.
He then joined a performance team aimed at inspiring and engaging underprivileged youth in the streets of Manchester.
“The (acrobatic) skills are secondary to the teachings of community, personal strength, self-confidence and the importance of quieting the mind,” explained Kvasnik. “These principles still remain as my primary inspiration and motivation for all that I do.”
Around that time, his career in performance arts blossomed. He was invited on a European tour with Minogue. Kvasnik said the world of stage lights and huge audiences was exhilarating and allowed him to demonstrate his acrobatic skills, as well as the centering and deep breathing techniques he had learned in training. “Plus it made my parents proud,” he mused.
The next few years were punctuated by busy performance schedules and periodic visits to Manchester, where he continued working with younger students in the marital arts community. It wasn’t until he left for a two-year run with Cirque de Soleil’s show ‘KA’ in Las Vegas that he realized the importance of the bonds he had created with his students back in Manchester. “Of course I missed my family and friends, but what I really was missing was the connection with the kids I had been working with and seeing their progressions,“ he noted.
This seed of inspiration remained underground while he juggled work opportunities in stunt, TV and film, as well as a world tour with Britney Spears and yet another Cirque de Soleil show. Kvasnik said he was grateful for these lucrative and professionally expansive opportunities, but something within him longed for a deeper sense of purpose beyond his own personal gain.
After spending time in Yucatan with a Mayan elder, who added to his knowledge of energetic movement, Kvasnik had a breakthrough moment that synthesized all his training and experience into a meaningful new path. “I went to the Yucatan thinking I was going to figure out what I was going to do next in my life, and as the plane landed back in Los Angeles, an awareness landed within me,” he recalled. “I asked myself, what do I love to do? Of course, working with children! It connected all the dots, where I’ve come from, where my heart is, and it’s something that feels worthwhile to do.”
Kvasnik had already fallen in love with Ojai on several previous trips to the area, and after a few days back in Los Angeles, he decided to relocate. Now in addition to teaching at Ventura’s Airealistic Circus and Flying School, he is offering free introductory workshops for kids in Ojai that combine his accumulated knowledge of gymnastics, acrobatics, martial arts, dance and mindful movement techniques. He hopes to capture children’s imaginations and inspire their potential with his “monkey tricks,” while also imparting some “monk” methods to strengthen and balance their minds.
The next free workshop will be held Aug. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon in Libbey Park.
Find out more about Kvasnik’s workshops by emailing him at email@example.com or by visiting his Facebook page “Flipping Monk forum.”
To get a look at the “Monk” in acrobatic action, visit www.flippingmonk.com.