Summer Circus Intensive with Dr. Jonathan Priest and Guests

Embark on a transformative journey of circus exploration and innovation with this unique and unparalleled opportunity!

Join Dr. Jonathan Priest, the visionary course leader of Circomedia’s Masters Degree in Directing Circus, for an intensive week of circus training and creative workshops with an aerial focus. This is a fantastic opportunity for performers of circus who wish to develop the form and content of their work.

We are thrilled to be joined by of a number of acclaimed circus professionals who will deliver guest sessions throughout the week. They include:
– Artistic Directors of Ockham’s Razor Alex Harvey and Charlotte Mooney
– Directors or Joli Vyann Jan Patzke and Olivia Quayle
– Circomedia alumni and world-renowned aerial artist, Ziggy Slingsby

This week is hosted by Circomedia’s MA in Directing Circus and features approaches to making work not available on other programmes.

Jonathan Priest


Dr. Jonathan Priest is a distinguished figure in the realm of artistic research within the circus practice, with a wealth of experience spanning over 35 years. As the course leader of the MA program in Directing Circus, their expertise lies at the intersection of performance art and pedagogy. Their course is the only one of its kind in Europe and is dedicated to making circus happen. With a career marked by a diverse array of roles, they have seamlessly navigated through traditional and contemporary circus settings, leaving an indelible mark in each.

Their global footprint extends across various continents, having worked extensively in research and development initiatives, staged performances in theatre and under canvas, and educational endeavours. Renowned for their pioneering teaching methodologies, they have shaped the landscape of circus education internationally, notably across Scandinavia and the UK.

Dr. Jonathan Priest’s multifaceted career encapsulates a commitment to pushing the boundaries of circus arts, fusing innovation with a deep-rooted respect for traditions, techniques, aesthetics, and discourses that are seen as inherent to the practice. Their contributions to the field have not only elevated the craft but have also inspired countless practitioners and scholars alike. His doctoral work is published through the Stockholm University of the Arts and is an examination of the assumptions that the public and the sector itself holds about circus performance.

With a dedication to excellence and a passion for exploration and collaboration, Dr. Jonathan Priest continues to be a leading force in the evolution of circus practice in the UK sector and beyond.

Charlotte Mooney

Charlotte trained in circus and physical theatre at Circomedia. She co-founded award winning contemporary circus company Ockham’s Razor and has been devising, directing and performing their work nationally and internationally 2004-present. Most recently she co-directing the critically acclaimed Tess.

She has worked as a movement director and circus director for numerous companies including Oily Cart, Heads Over Wheels, Oddly Moving, Gossamer Thread, Charmaine Childs, Sadiq Ali, Poppy Plowman & Roundhouse Street Circus Collective. She has taught devising and directing on the BA course at National Centre for Circus Arts, St Mary’s University and on the MA in Directing Circus at Circomedia.

Alex Harvey

Artistic Director
Head of Rigging / Equipment  

Alex has been Artistic Director of Ockhams Razor since its beginning in 2004. He has performed in, devised and co-directed their shows which have won awards, received critical acclaim and reached audiences around the world. He studied at Circomedia and also has a degree in Fine Art. 

 Alex is a director, equipment designer, creative rigger, circus consultant, mentor and performer. In these roles he has worked with Improbable, the English National Opera, the Metropolitan Opera New York, the National Theatre, The Globe, Danny Boyle, Emma Rice, Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni, Wise Children, Rosemary Lee, Tamasha, Oily Cart, Amici Dance Theatre, Les Enfants Terribles, Imitating The Dog, National Centre for Circus Arts, Freckle Productions, Riotous Company, Actors of Dionysus, Sadiq Ali, Levantes Dance, Giselle Edwards, She Said Jump, Oddly Moving, Tilly Lee-Kronick, Out of Order, Hikapee and Theatre Rites. 

He is also a qualified circus instructor and has run circus theatre workshops worldwide.

Ziggy Slingsby

Ziggy is an aerialist and teacher with over 15 years professional experience, as well as a qualified shiatsu therapist. She has an MA in Choreography specialising in Circus from Stockholm University of The Arts and an MRSS from Bristol School of Shiatsu. She trained in Circus and Physical Theatre with Circomedia.

Her first full length show Two Legged Animal (a duet with musician Rowan Rheingangs) premiered at the Circus City Festival in 2015. Its work-in-progress version won The Volt Award for innovation in Circus and was performed in Stockholm, London and Bristol.

Ziggy combines aerial, movement and body work to create an alternative approach to creating and experiencing aerial performance. Exploring the perspective of both artist and audience. 

Her personal experience of chronic fatigue, post viral syndrome and mental health, inspired her to develop this supportive approach to training, teaching and devising.

Initially, this was to support the continuation of her own career and enjoyment of aerial, but more recently it has led to include that of other aerialists and circus artists. 

She is currently researching ways to create live performance using these methodologies and runs workshops for aerialists of all levels to explore their own practice. 

Olivia Quayle

Olivia trained and competed in artistic gymnastics for 15 years and then made a natural transition into dance. She graduated with a BA Hons degree in Sports Science, Dance and English Literature from Loughbough University. Olivia went on to complete her professional dance training at Bodywork Company Dance studios, followed by professional development training at Iwanson, Munich and ODT, San Francisco. Olivia has worked with contemporary dance choreographers and companies all over the world including Slanjayvah Danza, Strado Compagne Danza, Maresa von Stockert, Fleur Darkin, Gobbledegook and Motionhouse. She was with Motionhouse for over 4 years and toured internationally with them. Olivia has also worked with large international circus companies Dragone and Legs on the Wall, as a dancer, acrobat and aerialist as well as for the Wexford Opera Festival and the Opera Tosca at The Royal Albert Hall.

Jan Patzke

Jan started with martial arts at the age of 10 and continued his training in different styles for 15 years. After some experiences in the stuntman business (Status Yo, 66-67) he made his way into circus and sports acrobatics. He participated in several national and international competitions. He furthered his training in circus schools in Berlin, Chambery (France) and Lille/ Lomme (France), as a base in hand to hand, cyr wheel, juggling, acrobatics and other circus skills. After circus school he worked with the duo Jan und Felix in different cabarets in Germany and Europe like: Traumtheater Salome, Balagan, GOP, Krystallpalast and others. He also participated in several operas: Aida and Elisir d’amore ( Staatsoper Berlin) and Armida ( Komische Oper/ Berlin), Wexford Opera Festival, and in the Theatre production of Macbeth in “Die Schaubühne“. From February 2010 he toured Europe with the Belgian company Cirq’ulation locale in the trampoline show Trampoline mission 3 and the indoor show, Second Life.

What to Expect…

Devising and Creation Tools: Taking place in our high-level circus facilities in Bristol, each day will begin with a warm-up followed by skills classes, as well as creative devising and performance games with some of the big names from the UK contemporary circus industry.

There will be regular opportunities for skills sharings between participants and the staff team. You will discover new devising and creation tools and learn innovative approaches to meaning-making, unlocking a range of creative possibilities.

Personalised Research Question: Receive guidance in designing a course of artistic research tailored to your specific creative circus practice. Dr. Jonathan Priest and fellow industry professionals will assist you to refine your focus and revitalise your artistic journey.

If you are looking to create new work, re-work an existing act, or simply want to work with new themes and new content, please get in touch. Please outline your idea within your application and, if suitable, we will invite you to join this summer intensive.

Masterclasses and Workshops: Engage in skills classes and creative circus-devising workshops led by skilled industry professionals. Elevate your technical proficiency and gain insights from experienced practitioners in the field.

a black and white photo of a person on trapeze being pulled by many pieces of string by the audience

One-on-One Tutorials: Benefit from personalised attention with one-to-one tutorials, outside eye feedback, and directorial assistance from seasoned pros. Dr. Priest, Charlotte Mooney, Moira Hunt, the graduating Masters students in Directing Circus and other big industry names will guide you through your creative process.

Aerial Disciplines Focus: Delve into the world of aerial disciplines, or add to your skill set with courses in flying trapeze. Work closely with specialist teachers from the Above and Beyond team to enhance your skills and push your boundaries.

Performance sharing: Showcase your newfound talents in a supportive and friendly environment at a private sharing at St. Paul’s Church. We are in discussion with the esteemed film school at Bath Spa University who we work with regularly, in the hopes that they will be able to film your sharings and provide you with a personalized promotional video to share with the world. We will be able to update attendees on this nearer the time.

Network with Industry Professionals: In addition to meeting a range of fellow industry professionals throughout the week, we will end the Intensive with a private sharing and networking event. Come along on Saturday 20th July to celebrate your achievements, share your experiences and mingle with influential figures in the circus industry. This is a wonderful chance to pave the way for future collaborations.

There are only 10 spaces available on this exclusive week of circus exploration.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to revitalise your creative practice and emerge with an original act that reflects the depth of your artistic vision.

A man with a ukulele sits on a trapeze high against a black background

Course details

Dates: Monday 15 – Friday 19 July 2024. On Saturday 20 July, attendees are also invited to take part in a private sharing and networking event at St. Paul’s Church, for those who wish to stay on.

There is also the option to join us on Saturday 13 July to see a work-in-progress showing of Don’t Drop Me – a swinging trapeze show by Circomedia Supported Artists and Alumni, Jen & LK.

Location: Circomedia, Kingswood Estate, Bristol, BS15 8DB and Circomedia, St. Paul’s Church, Bristol, BS2 8SJ

Cost: £980 per student.

The fee does not include meals or accommodation.

Please register your interest in joining the summer intensive by emailing

Application details:

Closing date for applications is 9am on Thursday 13 June.

If you are interested in joining us for this intensive, please email with the subject line ‘Summer Intensive EOI’, and let us know a bit about yourself, why you’re interested in the course and if you have any questions. If you’d like to send us a weblink, portfolio or video of your work, that would be great!

To apply, please email with the subject line ‘Summer Intensive Application’ and outline what you want to achieve from your time with Circomedia, and whether there is a specific project or show you would like to develop during the week.

These applications will be reviewed by Dr Jonathan Priest and he will decide which applicants receive a place on this exclusive course.

International applications are welcome.

Please be aware that this programme will rely on having sufficient numbers to take place in order to drive the creativity that comes from working in groups with our industry experts. With that in mind, please ensure that you take out relevant travel insurance in the event of our need to cancel or postpone the event.