Jumpstart is one of ISACS four flagship artform residency programmes along with – LIFTÁras Éanna and NEST.

Jumpstart is a multi-annual artist development programme specifically for aerial dance artists. It has been developed in partnership with the Earagail Arts Festival, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, and Fidget Feet Irish Aerial Dance Festival and is supported by The Arts Council of Ireland. It offers an artistic and sectoral mentoring programme for emerging aerial dance and circus artists via an open-call.

In year one, the participating artists are mentored by experienced aerial artists and producers in each Festival, spending one week in each location throughout the summer season. During year two, the partnering Festivals provide them with a platform to showcase the work in progress developed during year one.

The Jumpstart Artists

The awarded Jumpstart artists are ISACS artist Ashton for the 2023/2024 edition – and  Polina Shapkina for the 2021/2022 edition.

Jumpstart Doublebill 2024

Jumpstart supports emerging circus artists with a speciality/interest in aerial technique and creativity. Together with our partners, we are developing a residency and creative mentorship programme which supports and encourages emerging aerial artists to take the first step forward in artistic creation. The selected artists are mentored by mid-career circus artists, encouraging the growth of a supportive ecosystem between and among their artistic peers.

Ashton and Polina will present their artistic work this year at the Earagail Arts Festival, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, and Fidget Feet Irish Aerial Dance Festival.

The shows

MAKOSH by Polina Shapkina (30 mins)


2021-22 JumpStart artist

Two circus performers - person in the front is wearing a face mask, behind them we can only see two arms moving and coming out of their back.

Inspired by the works of Carl Jung on the human psyche, journey through a world of symbols on a quest to be the fullest expression of ourselves if we have the courage to take it. A surreal dreamscape, an age old quest for meaning and belonging in a world of disillusion.

A tentative battle plays out between the protagonist PSYCHE who is faced with the challenge of incorporating the deepest parts of herself – this hidden and dark unconscious represented by a second dancer: SHADOW. ORDER is embodied by the third performer.

While rich in Slavic folk motifs that connect to the artists ancestral heritage, and post-soviet dystopianism, the work also presents the world order we are currently living in – one that calls for conformity and imposes oppressive structures on ordinary lives.


One Hundred Thousand Years by Ashton (50 mins)

2023-24 JumpStart Artist

Circus aerial artist performing acro aerial on the ocean

A joyful exploration of time and nature, using vertical dance, theatre and multi-sensory installation. Inspired by the natural environments of the West Coast of Ireland.

Ashton is the recipient of the 2023-2024 JUMPSTART programme. In the first year their focus was movement research on-site, and they are now presenting a performance-in-development sharing. JUMPSTART is supported by Earagail Arts Festival, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network (ISACS) and Irish Aerial Dance Festival. Supported by Arts Council Ireland.