Ayana Strutz (formerly Freeman) is a trained dancer and circus artist with training in jazz, modern, African, ballet, tap, hip hop, singing, acting, aerial dance, contortion, tumbling, and partner acrobatics. She is of Japanese and African-American descent, and is able to speak, write, and read Japanese. She is thrilled to call Chicago her new home, and is currently represented by Big Mouth Talent Agency.
Ayana was born in Yokosuka, Japan to a U.S. military father and Japanese mother. After her younger brother was born, her parents decided to settle down and start a new life, moving the family of four to Honolulu, Hawaii with nothing but a couple hundred dollars and an abundance of hope and determination in their pocket. As an energetic 4-year old, Ayana was enrolled in her first ballet class by her mother's efforts to tire her out before bedtime. She has been crazy about performing ever since!
Growing up in Hawaii, Ayana attended the Mid-Pacific Institute School of the Arts and was actively involved in her high school's 4-year Theatre Arts program. After graduating high school, she spread her wings and left the island to attend The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, graduating in 2015 with a BA in Sociology and Dance minor.
Ayana moved to Chicago in 2016 and discovered a circus school near her apartment. Eager to grow as a performer, she attended the Actors Gymnasium's 9-month Professional Circus Training Program, where she trained 27 hours a week in aerial dance, contortion, tumbling, hand-balancing, partner acrobatics, dance, and physical theatre. Upon graduating circus school in June 2018, she has been working professionally as a dancer and circus artist. She is currently on tour traveling across the US to 30+ states (and Canada!) for 12 months with the First National Tour of The Spongebob Musical until August 2020 as Ensemble/Sandy Cheeks understudy. Regionally she has worked with Goodman Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, Skylight Music Theatre, Music Theater Works, Short North Stage, Cocodaco Dance Company, and Diamond Head Theatre. On a typical day you can find her performing as an aerialist and contortionist, teaching youth dance and youth circus classes, doing commercial work, or performing as Disney Princess Moana as a princess performer. No matter where the unpredictable twists and turns of life take her, she will always be an island girl at heart!