Circomedia Teachers

Here at Circomedia our teachers have a wide range of circus and performance experience, bringing a plethora of expertise to our ever-growing academy. 

Jono Ayres

Classes Manager

HE Aerial Teacher

HE Module Coordinator

FE Aerial Teacher

Designated Safeguarding Officer

Originally trained in Physical Theatre and receiving a BA (Hons) Degree from the University of Leeds, Jono has since been training and teaching circus for over a decade. Starting out working in the United States after completing his Masters Degree, he travelled and trained across the US, Canada, and Australia before settling back in UK. He teaches aerial, specialising in dynamic, solo, and doubles trapeze. Jono works for Circomedia as Classes Manager, overseeing one of the largest Youth Circus organisations in the UK, and also as an aerial teacher for both the Further Education and Higher Education Courses.

Jono Ayres

 

Rachel (Rae) Baird

Core Skills, Tumbling and Handstands Instructor

Rachel is a tumbling and acrobatics specialist coming from a background of gymnastics, trampolining, dance, partner acrobatics and cheerleading, completing the FDA at Circomedia in 2013 focusing on acrobatics. She later completed the Masters at Circomedia focusing on analysing physical movement and using movement as the instigator for storylines within more theatrical productions using circus.

Rachel has taught acrobatics at EJC, BJC, Circus Dayz in Athens, PLaY Festival, Organised Kaos Youth Circus LTD, Splats Circus, Circomedia Youth Circus/Adult Classes/BA Programme, Five Ring Circus, Lost in Translation Circus, Salto’s Gymnastics Centre, Kingswood Gymnastics Centre, LJMU Sports Centre, and Abingdon Gymnastics Club.

Rachel has performed acrobatics at the Wales Millennium Centre, The National Museum Wales, BBC iPlayer, and on various festival stages including Glastonbury Big Top and Greenfields stages, Boomtown, Play, Bestival and Shambala.

In 2013 Rachel set up her own tumbling classes for adults in Bristol which is now running four weekly classes throughout the year, under the new title ‘Adult Acrobatics at Home’. These specialise in helping people access the techniques required to master skills like flicks and somersaults in a safe space, and also learn ways to deal with the fear that comes along with jumping backwards onto your hands. Her main focus now is on helping students to overcome their fears using manageable small steps, allowing them to achieve goals they have been struggling with over time, gaining trust in themselves and their abilities

Ruby Burgess

HE Aerial Teacher

Ruby is one of the aerial teachers on the BA course. She has been teaching aerial to adults and children since 2013, including regularly coaching flying trapeze for Gorilla Circus. She performs static and swinging trapeze for companies such as Cirque Bijou and Above and Beyond at various festivals and performs political street theatre with Bim Mason’s satirical masks. She is also a circus journalist, writing reviews for The Circus Diaries at Edinburgh Fringe and running her own circus podcast ‘Not My Monkeys’.

Not my Monkeys Podcast

Alan Conlon

Youth Circus Coordinator

BTEC Acro Tutor

Alan developed an interest in Circus and Performing while living and working in his hometown of Sligo, Ireland. After spending several years training, teaching and performing in the evenings and at weekends with friends at events and festivals across Ireland, he decided to devote himself full time to performing. He auditioned for Circomedia and took part in their first FdA course, specialising in Physical Theatre and Acrobatics.

Since graduating Alan has worked as an acrobat, juggler, aerialist and rigger for companies such as Above & Beyond, Red Hands Flying Trapeze, Daft Antics, Cirque Bijou and Joy Magnet, and has toured with Bash Street Theatre for three years with shows across mainland Europe. He has also acted with the Wardrobe Theatre Company and Thrice Three Muses in Bristol. Alan has worked as a tutor for Circomedia’s Youth Circus program for many years and became Youth Circus Coordinator in 2019.

Robin Dale

HE Juggling Teacher

Robin studied at Circomedia between 2013-16, specialising in physical comedy and object manipulation. Since graduating he has toured extensively with his solo theatre show What Does Stuff Do?, including with the Best of BE Festival tour in 2017 and 2018. He is one third of the infamous bar flair trio Shakedown, and a founding member of juggling theatre company Broken Box Collective. Robin also performs cabaret and variety acts, and is a guest juggler for companies including Living Room Circus and Gandini Juggling.

Robin Dale

George Fuller

HE Physical Theatre Teacher

George Fuller is an American (Chicago) performer and teacher based in the UK. He specialises in street theatre, mime, clowning, improvisation, contemporary circus, dance and cabaret. His circus experience includes touring with NoFit State Circus, Midnight Circus, Crashmat Collective, and Herbie Treeheads Dinosaur Circus. He is currently touring The Rest of Our Lives which is a contemporary dance performance with Jo Fong. This piece was commissioned by the RTN and supported by The Place. George, under the pseudonym George Orange, continuously tours his solo outdoor show ‘Man On The Moon’. For 11 years he has acted as artistic director of Mary Bijou Cabaret and Social Club which presents queer and feminist contemporary cabaret.

George Fuller

Current show: The rest of our Lives

Rachel Kirby

BTEC Aerial Tutor

Youth Circus and Adult Classes Tutor  

Rachel started her circus career with the classic running away to join the circus. After studying Human Rights and Social Theory in London, Rachel ran off to Cornwall where she was taken in by a circus. They trained her up and she worked for them as an aerialist for some years. She went on tour with them as well as working for other companies and agencies around the UK and France, performing in a range of contemporary circus shows to corporate events. Rachel decided to take her training and studies further at Circomedia on the degree course where she studied Aerial, Acrobatics, and Hat Manipulation. Currently Rachel combines her teaching with performing. 

Rod Laver

Deputy to Head of Undergraduate Studies

HE Lead Manipulation Teacher

Head of Vocational Courses

A World Record breaking Gentleman and Ping Pong juggler. For nearly 30 years Rod has been a unique and sought-after speciality artist performing all over the world in Cabaret, Variety and on TV including twice receiving standing ovations on legendary French TV show “Le Plus Grand Cabaret Du Monde”. He has won medals at World Juggling Championships in the USA, at the Paris Variety festival and a Herald Angel award at the Edinburgh Festival. He represented the UK at the inaugural “Kamiwaza” TV variety show in Japan and has set a world record on Chinese TV. He recently appeared at the iconic Berlin Wintergarten Theatre and was also one of the few British Jugglers to appear in the Karl-Heinz Ziethen book “The Virtuosos of Juggling.” He had a long stint as resident Juggler at the Hippodrome on Saturday nights in London’s West End and is Joint Artistic Director of the Decadent Rabbit cabaret. Alongside his performing career Rod is very proud to have been Head Juggling teacher at Circomedia since the early 90s. Until recently he held a similar position at the National Centre for Circus Arts in London before deciding to expand and concentrate on his Circomedia career by taking on the role of Deputy to the Head of Undergraduate Studies.

Rod Laver

Heather Parkin

HE Context 1 Module Co-ordinator

Tutor

Heather works with Rhiannon Lloyd to provide administration across the Circomedia courses and is Module Co-ordinator of Context 1 for the FdA. Heather gained a First-Class BA in English & European Literature and an MA in Shakespeare: Text, Influence & Creativity before studying at Circomedia from 1999-2001. Heather’s performance career has included corporate work, devised touring theatre, voice recording, traditional/contemporary circus, devised circus theatre and cabaret.  

Heather acquired a brain injury in a car crash in 2006. She recently performed in Epic Minds (2022) directed by Nikki Kenward, a show which explored her lengthy recovery process. Previous teaching for Circomedia includes leading community circus workshops, adult aerial classes, voice and corde lisse to FdA students, history of circus and acting head of aerial on the BTEC course.   

Nikki Kenward website

Owen Reynolds

FE Lead Juggling Teacher

Born in Dublin, Owen started his performing career in his teens with Bui Bolg working at the major festivals across Ireland. Keen to pursue his new found career, he went to study at Circomedia, Bristol, where he specialised in Juggling and Doubles Trapeze, and later obtained a Teaching Certificate in circus skills. After Graduating in 2001, Owen worked as Head of Juggling on the degree program at the National Centre for Circus Arts (The Circus Space), London, and continues to teach there as a guest teacher on the degree programme.Over the past 15 years, Owen has performed and contributed to many of Gandini Juggling’s productions and he continues to tour with them in Smashed and 4×4:Ephemeral Architectures. In 2018 he was Educational Officer for Gandini working with 60 young jugglers across the UK and culminating in a large site-specific performance in the iconic fountains at London’s Somerset House. More recently, he co-created a piece of children’s circus with juggler, Arron Sparks, which focused on themes of determination and life choices. In 2020, Owen was awarded a grant from the Arts Council England to pursue his love for teaching and working as an educator in circus – prompting his new venture “Circus Academy” to be created.

Owen Reynolds

Lex Rooney

Head of Undergraduate Studies

Lex joined Circomedia as Head of Movement in 2011, became Course leader for the Foundation Degree and BA (Hons) in 2015, and Head of Undergraduate Studies in 2020. Lex currently teaches dance technique, Creative Movement, and is Module Coordinator for the Final Major Project module on the BA (Hons).   

Lex trained at Swindon Dance, London Contemporary Dance School, holds a First-Class BA (Hons) in Dance from Bath Spa University, and was awarded a Masters’ Degree with Distinction in European Dance Theatre Practice from Trinity Laban. She currently performs with The Bureau of Random Acts, and has appeared in dance, theatre, film, cabaret and outdoor productions with companies such as Swerve Dance Theatre Company, Willi Dorner’s Bodies in Urban Spaces, The Invisible Circus, Protein Dance, Sideways Arts and FallingWide.  Lex has worked as a Choreographer/Movement Director with Bristol-based music producers CUTS /// & Typesun, Rodney & Alexandra’s Cabaret Paradiso and Above & Beyond Aerial Theatre’s Glastonbury Big Top flying trapeze show.

Lex is passionate about teaching dance and choreography, and has worked in a variety of settings, from Senior Lecturer in Dance at Bath Spa University to youth and community outreach work with the Mama Africa Project and Train of Thought. Lex is External Examiner for the BA (Hons) in Dance, Aerial & Physical Theatre at the University of Chichester and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).  

The Bureau of Random Acts

Bodies in urban spaces

EXIST – Official Trailer

CUTS – 04 (Night Terrors)

Ellissa Rose

FE Acrobatics Teacher

FE Marketing and Media Teacher

Youth Circus Coach

Circomedia Marketing Team

Ellissa graduated from Circomedia’s BA in 2019, a multi-disciplinarian specialising in acrobatics. Ellissa teaches acrobatics and marketing/media on our further education course, alongside teaching on Circomedia’s Youth Circus and adult classes.

Since 2014, Ellissa has worked extensively with a multitude of companies: Cirque Bijou, Above and Beyond, Baseline Circus and more, performing acrobatics, flying trapeze and manipulation.

Recent projects include the production team of Jon Udry’s Variety Bungalow and performing in the Doorstep Circus Project by Maddie McGowan. Currently Ellissa is touring the show ‘Electric City’ with Dream Tech entertainment.

Electric City

Doorstop Circus Project

Jon Udry’s Variety Bungalow

Natalie Verhaegen

FE Physical Theatre Teacher

Natalie is a movement director and performer working primarily within the circus world. Her work is about the powerful way that physical performance and the arts can be harnessed to explain concepts and make meaningful analyses of our world.

Qualifications include an MA Directing Circus, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education with Qualified Teacher Status, and a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Arts.

She is the Director of Le Physical and Co-Director of The Learning Circus. She has directed in a freelance capacity for companies such as Mirabella Arts on their environmental show  ‘The Silent Forest Circus’ highlighting the plight of the Asian songbirds. and has been working with Stav Meishar on how applied analysis of movement can explore gender performance through the Barbette Project. Other works include; The System, Digital Experiments, Conflict Resolution, Multi-Me, Around, Mad Science, Murder Mystery, All Hallows Eve, and The Tipton Project.

She is a freelance director, performer, musician, and teacher.

Natalie Verhaegen

 Le Physical

Lisa Whitmore

HE Lead Acrobatics Teacher

Lisa is a professional acrobat and aerialist as well as the Head Teacher for acrobatics at Circomedia.

Her training started as a base in partner acrobatics in sports acro from the age of 11. Not wanting to give gymnastics up, Lisa discovered Circomedia after university where she started her training and journey in circus. Performances range from corporate gigs, festivals, TV work to ensemble acrobatic and aerial touring shows in the UK and abroad.

Alongside this Lisa started teaching at Circomedia and developed the syllabus for the acrobatics specialisation which includes partner acro, handstands and tumbling. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and helping others to have the opportunity to enjoy acrobatics as much as herself.

Qualifications include a Post Graduate Certificate in Professional Learning in Higher Education, and BSc (Hons) in Sports and Exercise Science.

Lisa Whitmore