Let it never be said that Circomedia students don't know how to work hard. After full time courses finished in June, our current students and graduates spent their summer "holidays" (and I use that word loosely) entertaining the public up and down the country at events and festivals. Some were working in partnership with friends of Circomedia, such as Above & Beyond, Citrus Arts and Cirque Bijou, whilst others took it upon themselves to arrange work with organisations looking for performers. As a new academic year begins, we thought we'd take a look back over the summer to show you what really happens when Circomedia goes on holiday.


For so many of our students, the legendary Glastonbury festival signals the beginning of the summer and, as always, aerial teacher Mike Wright of Above & Beyond was there with his flying trapeze rig to wow visitors to the Circus Field. Mike, Jono Ayres and the Above & Beyond team ran workshops during the day and as the sun went down they took to the air to perform their dramatic flying routine. Students were given the opportunity to perform alongside Above & Beyond's hugely experienced artists, help facilitate the workshops and learn how to assemble Mike's imposing flying rig. Elsewhere on the Worthy Farm site, Circomedia students and alumni were juggling, dancing, hula hooping, singing and either throwing people around or being the one getting thrown. Whether it was on stage, in a tent or as a walkabout performer, our amazing young people were contributing to the joyous atmosphere for which Glastonbury festival is famed.

Mike Wright and the Above & Beyond team

Simon Able and Nina Bannister performing the live looping section of their theatre show

Eilidh Sela and Jamie Double (photo by 'Festival For You')

The last weekend of July brought with it the return of the Bristol Harbourside festival and some unfortunately erratic weather. With Cirque Bijou once again running the circus stage in Castle Park it was up to Circomedia to brave the rain and kick things off at midday on the Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes perched atop a trapeze, other times dressed as a banana (long story), BA graduate Tilly Lee-Kronick compèred a showcase of performances from the Youth Circus, adult classes participants and full-time students, including BTEC graduate Natasha Chauhan's wonderful solo acrobatic act and fellow BA grad Coral Dawson's electric rope routine.

Tilly Lee-Kronick and some of our youngest Youth Circus members (photo by Nic Young)

BA graduate Coral Dawson (photo by Nic Young)

Indigo Barclay, Rowan Virgo, Freya Stokka, Brenna Day, Natasha Chauhan and Hayley Morgan (photo by Nic Young)

Tilly doing her best banana impression (photo by Nic Young)

August saw Circomedia students teaming up with Citrus Arts for the second time to produce an original show for Green Man festival in the heart of the beautiful Brecon Beacons. Under the guidance of director James Doyle-Roberts, eight students and four professional performers devised 'Gorge', an ensemble piece based on the local legend of Llyn Cwm Llwch about a a magical island that appears in the middle of a lake. Performed nightly on the Back Of Beyond stage, the show also gave our students the opportunity to display some individual skills, such as a beautifully dynamic rope act by Kelsey Bell and some gravity defying acrobatics from Sam Barnes and Bethany Harvey-Hughes.

You can watch a short 'making of' film about Gorge here

The 'Gorge' ensemble (photo by Ian Bourne)

Hannah Thompson flying during the group acro piece (photo by Ben Tansey)

Bethany Harvey-Hughes and Sam Barnes

Kelsey Bell (photo by Ben Tansey)

The weekend after Green Man saw the celebration of rainbow glitter and body paint that is Shambala festival and frequent collaborator Anabelle Holland and FDA teacher Kate Webb ensured the festival's Social Club tent had no shortage of Circomedia talent. Performances included BA graduates Mahri Taffe and Leo Ward with their duo acrobatic routine and BTEC student Helena Humm's incredible trapeze act performed to a live score by renowned Bristol musician Mr Woodnote who looped saxophones, synths and beatbox percussion.


Shambala was also treated to a performance of 'Shakedown', a new piece by BA graduates Robin Dale and Charles Brockbank and FDA teacher Dannick Chollet. Combining bar flair with high octane juggling and physical comedy, 'Shakedown' had been in development for several months. The three jugglers had been performing a less theatrical version behind an actual bar at festivals, before receiving a commission from Glastonbury festival which paid for some rehearsal space and prop building. This was followed by a work in progress showing at Volt, a regular scratch night run by Ausform at our Portland Square venue. It's fair to say that after an exhausting festival run 'Shakedown' is looking much more polished and it went down an absolute storm with the Social Club crowd.

Mahri Taffe and Leo Ward in the Social Club tent, Shambala

Charles Brockbank, Robin Dale and Dannick Chollet performing 'Shakedown'

Often the last festival of the season for our students is Bestival on the second weekend of September and this year saw another collaboration between Circomedia alumni and our friends Cirque Bijou. Held in the Caravanserai area, Cirque Bijou had created a gorgeous theatrical wonderland for visitors to the Dorset festival. During the day, revellers were treated to the Circus Cafe, a madcap performance where acts are "ordered" from a menu, and in the evening a showcase of performances allowed our students to experiment with new work or perform tried and tested crowd-pleasers. Amongst the performers were hula hooper Scarlett Smith, acro duo Tamar Fynn and Rebecca Cross and aerialist Anna Moses.

Charles Brockbank (photo by Graham Wynne)

Tilly Lee-Kronick (photo by Graham Wynne)

Coral Dawson (photo by Graham Wynne)

Anna Moses, Eilidh Sela, Scarlett Smith, Ben Walker and Coral Dawson

Of course there were Circomedia faces at far more festivals than just these over the summer and whilst there's not space to list every single one, we had students and alumni performing at Boomtown, Nottinghill Carnival, Download, Nozstock, Secret Garden Party and Noisily. Many of them had arranged their own work and weren't there as part of a Circomedia collaboration at all. Of course even at Glastonbury and the other festivals named above there were students and alumni performing independently, for example graduates Olga Kaleta, Rosie Roberts and Maddie Lennox (aka The Bad Egg Theatre Company) delighted visitors to Green Man with their hilarious walkabout act and Robin Dale found time to stop throwing bottles around and treat audiences to his award winning show 'What Does Stuff Do'.

FDA student Freya Marven at Boomtown Fair (photo by Carrie Barton)

The Bad Egg Theatre Company at Green Man festival

Jamie Double hat juggling at Newlyn Fish Festival (photo by Elizabeth Dale)

BA Graduate Mike Bathke performing his burlesque act at Salaisuuksien Yo

Amy Guayo at Nostruckture (photo by elOcks photographer)

Bethany Harvey-Hughes at Nozstock


Whilst many of our students were working the festival circuit, others were collaborating with friends of Circomedia on projects closer to home. This summer the SS Great Britain enlisted Cirque Bijou to create a raucous street show for families visiting Brunel's famous ship throughout the holiday. Between July and September a cast comprised entirely of Circomedia students and graduates entertained children and adults with 'Crossing The Line', a show about the maritime rituals of sailors crossing the equator, with a dash of juggling and acrobatics. The revolving cast featured BTEC graduates Cal Courtney, Helena Berry and Will Blenkin and Foundation Degree students Tom Barker, Iona Stewart, Robert Penny and Scarlett Smith. With three performances a day every day throughout the summer it was a gruelling schedule but seven performers for five parts meant our cast could afford some respite.

Helena Berry showing off her foot balancing skills, Will Blenkin in the background (photo by Ben Tansey)

Tom Barker being 'shaved' by Iona Stewart and Helena Berry (photo by Ben Tansey)

A toothless Cal Courtney salutes his audience, with Tom Barker, Iona Stewart and Will Blenkin (photo by Ben Tansey)

A very different project that Circomedia had the pleasure of being involved with was a collaboration with choreographer Kate Lawrence of Vertical Dance. Kate had a dream to hang some aerialists off the cranes by the old Bristol docks, now home to the M Shed, and well, we were more than happy to make it come true. Despite some inclement weather, Kate Lawrence and our students took to the skies and kicked off the Harbourside festival in style.

Elise Hamilton, Beth Lannigan, Ellissa Rose, Asami Yasumoto, Lois Ward-Marven and Kat McNab (photo by Nic Young)

Lois Ward-Marven enjoying some space (photo by Nic Young)

A few weeks later, Kate and the team brought the show, 'Host', to a car park in Worthing for an equally spellbinding performance, creating an extraordinary spectacle in the most ordinary of places.

A colourful performance (photo by Nic Young)

Kat McNab, Natasha Chauhan, Elise Hamilton, Lois Ward-Marven, Ellissa Rose

One project we have to mention is Off Road Circus and their work at Kids On The Green, a community project set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Headed up by student Amy Guayo, Off Road Circus led workshops with children affected by the terrible fire in west London in an effort to provide some light relief and distraction.

Hope in the shadow of adversity (photo by Amy Guayo)

This is by no means an exhaustive account of everything our students got up to over the holiday. Instead this is just a little glimpse into the exciting opportunities available to them. It's clear they had a lot of fun and whilst a new term is only just beginning, we can't wait to see what they get up to next summer.