Executive Director


Melissa Roberts

Melissa Roberts is the Executive Director of Canopy Studio, a non-profit aerial arts center in Athens, Ga. She primarily teaches adult, teen and kids’ dance trapeze, fabrics, lyra and partner work. She has over 30 years of movement training, beginning with gymnastics and dance at the age of 4. Under the mentorship of aerial dance pioneer, Susan Murphy (now with The Marsh Studio), Melissa learned the fine beauty of teaching aerial dance that merges the physicality of circus with the expressive depth of modern dance. Equally formative, alongside her longtime aerial collaborator, Nicole Mermans (The D’air Project), she began to explore custom equipment and expand the studio’s penchant for dancing on metal objects. Thus, when Melissa took over the directorship reigns in 2009, it was no surprise that Canopy’s Repertory Company shows began to see more and more aerial cubes, triangles, chains, ladders and even upsidedown stars!

Melissa’s twelve years of teaching aerials have been influenced greatly by longtime training with Elsie and Serenity Smith (formerly of Cirque du Soleil and founders of the New England Center for Circus Arts). She is also greatly inspired by training with her friends and colleagues Rain Anya and Sarah Holmes (Paper Doll Militia), Amy Powell (Chattanooga Aerials) and aerialist Aimee Hancock (NECCA, Cirque Eloize). She continues to further her training and teaching techniques in several national and international schools, her favorites being Cirque School LA, Aloft in Chicago, The Circus Space in NY and private gyms in Montreal. She performs and teaches in several venues in the Southeast, but she is happiest collaborating with dancers and musicians in the local Athens community.

As the studio director, she is committed first and foremost to teaching and outreach that reflects Canopy’s mission. Her first passion is to teach and inspire others to experience the transformative power of circus arts. Additionally, she loves to create art with the Canopy Repertory Company and perform with her professional trio, Aerial Trifecta. When not directing or teaching at Canopy, Melissa can be found doing something adventurous with her husband and two sons. She enjoys bikram yoga, trail running, traveling and exploring cemeteries.

Outreach & Children’s Programming Coordinator


Ann Woodruff Conley

Ann Woodruff-Conley is the Children’s Programming and Outreach Coordinator at Canopy Studio.  She is an honor graduate from the University of Georgia in the field of Special Education and a former self-contained middle school teacher.  She is a life-long learner, having received additional aerial training from the New England Center for Circus Arts (Necca), Ecole Nationale de Cirque (ENC) in Montreal, Victor Fromine’s Ecole Leotard in Montreal  and Cirque School LA (Los Angeles).  Under her guidance, Canopy’s Outreach and Children’s Program has reached many levels of excellence- one highlight in particular was being selected to present Canopy’s inclusive outreach program and the exciting results of aerial instruction for children with disabilities at the American Circus Educators (ACE) conference in Montreal.  She also works with UGA’s Psychology of Movement students to build research-based understanding of inclusion programming.  Ann has served on the Board of Directors of Extra Special People and Canopy Studio, she is a  current member of Chase Street Elemstary School’s Local School Governance Team.  Ann is a founding member of Canopy Studio”s Repertory Company, having begun aerial dance instruction under Canopy’s founder, Susan Murphy, at UGA prior to Canopy’s inception.   She teaches all levels of students at Canopy, from beginning three and four year olds through advanced teens; many of her students remain at Canopy until their graduation from high school.   Ann also trains all Jr. level teachers in the Canopy kids program, focusing on research-backed teaching methods for students of all abilities.
Ann is married to Rumpus Director,  Timi Conley. Her children, Luna Delight (age two) and Zoey (age 15) participate in Canopy’s children and teen programming.  Ann loves her garden and is day-dreaming  about renovating a tiny house to use as a back yard vacation home.

Business Manager

Laura Floyd

Laura Floyd joined Canopy Studio in 2016 as our Business Manager.  She is a Certified Bookkeeper who has worked for a variety of businesses and nonprofit organizations in Athens over the past twelve years.  She has a background in music, visual art and theater, and currently is a backdrop artist for Arts!Oglethorpe in nearby Crawford.