Emerging Artists

Upswing offers leading training opportunities to circus professionals at any stage in their development. Committed to providing inclusive opportunities and making circus careers accessible to all, our training is always free or affordably priced.

Professional development programmes offer a combination of training and mentorship to significantly impact the careers of artists entering the community. Step Up and InFlight are courses designed to nurture emerging talent in British circus, whilst increasing diversity in the art form.

Read more about our Upswing Artist Development Programme 

Step Up is an intensive two-week programme in acrobatics and aerial skills. It kickstarts circus training for artists with physical experience as they create a short routine that can be used as an audition piece and up to three artists will be selected for further mentorship with Upswing. Step Up is supported by The National Centre for Circus Arts with the next programme coming soon.

InFlight was delivered in 2015 and 2016 in partnership with WAC Arts and Scarabeus Aerial Theatre as a development of Step Up. Applicants were from an even wider range of physical backgrounds including martial arts, parkour and dance, but all were new to aerial. This programme ran over two years providing training in trapeze, aerial silks, rope, abseil and bungee harness, with an incredible opportunity to perform in InFlight From Home at Hampstead Town Hall at the end.


“To successfully cast our productions, it is increasingly essential that the arts industry provides facilities and organisations that help develop the skill base of performers from all backgrounds. Crucially, the Step Up programme provides performers from a diverse range of backgrounds with focused training, which has already had positive outcomes for our company.”
James Orange, Casting Director, Cameron Mackintosh Ltd

“Circus, it’s not very diverse and when you don’t see yourself represented you think, “I’m never going to do this because this is not for me.” A very important thing I saw in Step Up was people with the same dilemmas. When you share a space with people that have similar experiences you don’t feel alone.”
Milton Lopes, Actor

“[Step Up] gave me a really solid foundation: all the training I’ve done since goes back to what I learnt in that programme. My biggest gig last year was being cast in a Birmingham Rep production. Having circus skills on my CV definitely put me at an advantage over other performers.”
Mei Mac, Actor

“My aerial artistic development began in 2011 when I took part in the two week intensive programme, from there my passion grew. Thanks to the continuous mentoring and training from Upswing I am proud to be presenting my first show in 2019.”
Jessica Andrade, Actor

“Both Step Up and InFlight have allowed me to put questions of money aside and just think about the training. I now feel I can actually do this as a career, focus on aerial dance and circus theatre.”
Rachel Brennan, Performance Artists/Dancer

“Step Up not only gave us incredible physical training, but it also was really character building. If you’d told me two years ago that I would be entering my second year of NCCA training and on my way to becoming a professional circus artist, I would have laughed!”
Daniel Ash, Performance Artist