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Aloft's Full-Time Training Program Expands to a Two Year Program

Aloft presents the first Two Year Training Program in the USA.

Aloft has emerged as a leader in contemporary circus in the United States, founding the country’s first contemporary circus festival, beginning a residency program for the creation of new work by national and international artists, and presenting full-length shows around the country. In an effort to continue pushing the envelope in circus development in the United States, Aloft is proud to announce that our acclaimed Full-Time Training Program is expanding to an exclusive two-year program! Admissions for this program will be highly competitive and students will only be admitted every two years. The first and second year will not run concurrently, allowing us to focus all of our resources on a small group of 8-10 highly advanced developing artists.

We have always known that a 9 month program isn’t enough time to produce artists ready to enter the marketplace on a competitive level, but our 9 month program trained people to continue their development independently or at a more intense international school. In the 3 years that our 9 month program has existed we have had students continue at NICA, Ecole Supérieuredes Arts du Cirque, and Wise Fool and become professional artists through their own continued training. Expanding this program to a two year program with a smaller student base will allow students to graduate the program with acts and skills that can take them to the next level of performance nationally and internationally, or to be prepared for the competitive admissions process of schools like ENC.

The first year of the program (beginning of September-early June) will focus exclusively on skill development and movement research, both in generalist areas and, beginning in the second term, in a major area of focus. (Students wishing to minor in a secondary act will also have that option with a small tuition surcharge.) Weekly classes in acrobatics, handstands, tumbling, juggling, dance, physical theater, conditioning, stretching, aerial arts, creative and artistic development and more will enhance the development of the artist as a whole, rather than specialty performer. The year will begin quite regimented to develop discipline, safe training habits and ensemble skills. In the second term, private lessons and increased independant training will begin, focusing in this first year on building the highest possible skill level and also researching movement that is unique and true to the individual’s voice and vision.

The second year will see the hard work of the first year manifest into act creation. While continuing to build advanced level skills in the core ensemble areas (acrobatics, handstands, tumbling, juggling, dance, physical theater), students will be honing their focus in independent training and private lessons to create acts that will graduate ready for the circus marketplace. In addition to working with the highly trained and qualified coaches at Aloft, we will bring in monthly nationally and internationally recognized guest artists who will work intensively with the students on both their acts and present unique and specialized workshops. The final three months of the program will focus on creating a high quality final show featuring the final acts in majors, minors and ensemble skills. This show will be able to be presented as a future work if the class decides to continue working together as an ensemble after graduation.

Important details:

  • Tuition cost: $9000/year.

  • Admissions to this program are highly competitive and only open every two years.

  • Only 8-10 spots are open for the first year of the program and students must commit to both years. Participation in the second year will require full dedication and commitment in the first--students will be invited to continue based on their first year progress.

  • On-site student housing is available.

  • Program runs from the beginning of September to the beginning of June each year.

  • Training is 40 hours/week and intense. Students may work on weekends, though it is not encouraged.

  • One private lesson/week beginning in the second term of the first year and continuing to the end of the program is included in tuition. Students wishing to have a minor area of focus pay a tuition surcharge of $1650/year. Additional private lessons in major or minor areas are available but are the financial responsibility of the student. Some area’s of focus (namely contortion) require additional time and therefore a tuition surcharge may be added.

  • Applications due for first round/priority by Feb 9. Responses will be sent by Feb 16 and chosen applicants will be invited to Chicago for an audition in March.

  • Link to Application:

  • Audition video requirements: As many as you can do: At least 5 pull ups, at least 5 straight leg lifts, at least 3 straight arm straddle ups on silks or rope. Handstand (at least 10 seconds, unsupported). Splits (right, left and center). Backbend. Tumbling pass of your choice. No more than 2 min of movement in your favorite discipline (can be from a performance or informal).

  • Please send two letters of recommendation.

  • Questions? Please email

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