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Michael Rice: Executive Producer/ Creator of the VIVA Fest

Michael got his start in the Circus Arts as an Original cast member of Mystere by Cirque Du Soleil. He founded Inversion Entertainment in 1998 and has since created acrobatic entertainment worldwide for companies including the NFL, NBA, Disney World, Six Flags, Sea World, Universal Pictures, and was Circus Producer for NBC's Celebrity Circus. He also owns Gymcats Gymnastics Center in Henderson NV.

Cassie Rice: VIVAFest Steering Committee

Cassie Rice has been working with youth sports for over 2 decades.  She is the Owner and Head Coach of Gymcats Gymnastics where she was coach of Olympian Tasha Schwikert.  She has been recognized as USECA International Coach of the Year and TOP's Coach of the Year.  Gymcats trains over 2000 students Along with her sports work she is also actively involved in many charitable institutions including, Shade Tree Shelter, M-Lisada, Brooklynn Mae Mohler Foundation, and Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT).

Chris Lashua: VIVAFest Steering Committee/ Cabaret Director


Company founder, Chris Lashua was discovered by Cirque du Soleil in 1992, for whom he created and performed a BMX bike and a German Wheel act that were entirely his own, cementing his reputation as a visionary of circus gadgetry. In 2004, his engineering chops and creative energy led him to 'run away' with his own circus company, Cirque Mechanics.  His innovative machines interact with acrobats, dancers, jugglers and contortionists on a 1920's factory floor (Birdhouse Factory), a gold rush era town (Boom Town), accompany world renowned symphonies (Orchestra Project) and now, in a place inspired by his roots in cycling (Pedal Punk).  Cirque Mechanics has been hailed by The New York Times as  "exceptional, evocative, eye-catching and grossly a word, excellent" and by Spectacle Magazine as “the greatest contribution to American circus since Cirque du Soleil.”


Mika Shopski: VIVAFest competition manager/director


Mika was a collegiate competitive gymnast and then a full time coach for over two decades. She organizes, manages and directs hundreds of clinics, camps, and special events for thousands of participants. She has extensive knowledge and skills in the area of event management.

Steve Gale: VIVAFest Rigging 

Coordinator/ Steering Committee

Steve Gale's career in entertainment began at DisneyLand in 1994. Since that time, he has grown to be a sought-after professional in many areas of the acrobatic industry. Steve has worked as an acrobatic performer, rigger, creative consultant, director and stunt coordinator among other titles. His knowledge and experience have taken him all over the world working for corporate clients including Cirque Du Soleil, the NBA, the NFL,  and the Olympics in 2000 and 2002. Steve has also been involved in several television projects including NBC’s ‘The Cape’ and ‘Celebrity Circus’ where he was the cirque coordinator. Most recently, Steve has been welding and creating new acrobatic props for the industry with his entertainment company Radiant Productions.


Laura Martinez: VIVAFest competition coordinator


Laura holds a PhD in organizational and sport communication and is a published circus scholar. Her area of expertise is in internal communications and she has a background in stage management, coaching, and performing. She is also a journal reviewer for Circus: Arts, Life, & Sciences. Laura is knowledgeable across various areas of the circus industry, having worked in both back of stage and front of stage roles in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

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