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Rusty Russell - Finals Judge

Rusty has worked within the circus for a number of years and has been responsible for the booking of new acts for Russells International Circus. Rusty has been a judge for UK Aerial Performance Championships since its started.

Emma Nicholls - Auditions Judge. All Locations

After training with Russells International Circus during 2010, Emma set up aerial arts school, Freestyle Fitness in Louth. Instructing Lyra, static trapeze and silks. With the help of Russells International Circus Emma set up UK aerial Championships in 2014.

Bruce Knight - Compere

During 15 years working in the performing arts as a performer, director, producer and venue manager, Bruce has taken on many challenging projects. He has worked in an international conflict zone, received critical acclaim from The Guardian as a director and won community awards for reopening Spilsby Theatre.

Working predominantly in physical theatre, Bruce has been involved in creating projects with elements of choreographed movement, dance or aerial circus skills. His training and experience has enabled him to create accessible work that a wide audience can enjoy. Performances have ranged from small scale pieces to large ensemble productions for theatres,streets, festivals and events.


Samantha Palomba - Video and Finals Judge

Sam started aerial late on in life . After training and qualifying to an advanced level, Sam started teaching and in 2014 opened her own studio Elevation - Aerial -Arts. Sam has now expanded her skill set by adding aerial silk , aerial yoga , rope and trapeze. After kirsty Leigh attended a few of Sams classes Sam recruited her to become her aerial hoop partner. Since then they have competed together. Placing 3rd in their first competition at IPAAT 2015 which gave Sam and Kirsty the bug for competing. Together they went on to place first in 2016 at IPAAT, and took home awards for best tricks and best costume and in 2017 competed in the UK Aerial Performance Championship and placed first in the Professional Doubles category. Despite deciding to retire from competing Sam continues to teach and run her studio and has now started a social enterprise to work with young people who have specific needs .

Rio Willet - Video and Finals Judge

Rio is a Grimsby and Bristol-based Aerialist, Dancer and Physical Performer. Rio passed with a First Class Degree in Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Circomedia in 2017. Her main study was Aerial Hoop but she also trained in Burlesque, Clowning, street performance, Acrobatics and on other Aerial Equipment. She has performed from a very young age with her dance school, Lynn Crosskills Theatre school. With them, she has had the privilege to perform at Her Majesty's Theatre, Sadler's Wells and The Royal Albert Hall. Rio has training in Classical Ballet, Modern Jazz and Tap. Rio then went on to develop her training by completing an A Level in Dance and Performing Arts at Grimsby College-Westwood Ho and then went on to complete an FDA Degree at Circomedia. Rio entered the Lincolnshire Aerial Championships in 2014 and came 1st place in the Amateur Lyra group. She has then gone on to perform at many festivals and events such as Download Festival, Shambala Festival, and Bristol Harbour Festival to name a few. She has also performed with Circus companies such as Above and Beyond, Cirque Bijou and Circomedia in which she was a performer and the costume designer for their touring show TEN. Rio has also taught Aerial Hoop workshops at Bristol Swing Festival 2016 and 2017. Rio loves creating work that is unique, exotic and intriguing to watch. She takes pleasure in creating stunning visual performances that incorporate fast dynamic moves alongside elegant eye-catching positions. Rio makes sure to interact with her audiences and enjoys performing in a wide range of contexts and settings, trying out new things and meeting new people.