Each year, the festival jury consists of international experts from the fields of circus arts, show production, dance and top-class sport. These are the jury members 2024.

Sandra Wawer

Sandra Wawer

Artistic Director @ GOP Varieté, Germany
Jury Coordinator @ YOUNG STAGE

When Sandra Wawer interrupted her studies of industrial education and psychology in 2001 to go to Disneyland Paris for a year abroad, she did not realize how much this decision would influence the rest of her life. From then on, the world of entertainment would not let her go and she missed the magic of the stage until she decided to train as an event manager at the GOP Varieté Theatre in Hanover in 2007. At the side of the artistic director, she remained loyal to the company and was allowed to follow in his footsteps in 2022. Now, as artistic director, she will be responsible for the 25 different show productions each year and, together with the GOP showconcept team, will bring them to the stages of the seven GOP Varieté theatres and to various guest venues.


Urs Pilz

Artistic Director @ International Circus Festival, Monte Carlo
President of the European Circus Association & Fédération Mondiale du Cirque

After school in Schaffhausen and Zurich, Urs Pilz went to England, Italy and Sweden for further training in the textile and fashion industry. Urs’ family has been connected to the Knie family for 4 generations. Thus, the circus has always played an important role. Through his professional activity in Munich, a friendly relationship and cooperation with Circus Krone developed. This led to the first contacts with the Circus Festival in Monte-Carlo and Prince Rainier, the founder of the festival, in 1975.

The first task was the coordination of the jury and the “circensic” information of the prince about the international circus events. Later, the responsibility for the selection of artists was added and, since 2005, the overall management of the Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo in collaboration with Princess Stephanie of Monaco. At the same time, further tasks in the field of circus arose, namely the presidency of the European Circus Association, ECA, and that of the Circus World Federation, Fédération Mondiale du Cirque!



Actress, singer, dancer, presenter, voice actor, writer, director, Switzerland

But above all Nadja is «Nadeschkin» – the female half of the clown duo Ursus & Nadeschkin. In this constellation Nadja is known in the German-speaking theatre and comedy scene for nearly 30 years and she is very popular: as well as in performances, playwriting or in connection with projects in which she sometimes takes the role of the presenter or producer.

Nadja developed her talent and her skills in autodidact in over 3,000 performances. She lived in London, New York, Berlin, Melbourne, Sydney and she also spent one season at the Swiss National Circus Knie. The rest of the time she was and is on tour or at home, at the edge of her hometown Zurich.

Louis Bourgaut

Louis Bourgaut

Head of Casting @ Collectif «The 7 Fingers», Canada

Born in 1994 in Paris into a family deeply involved in the arts and culture scene in France, Louis Bourgaut immersed himself in the captivating world of music and performing arts from a very young age. His artistic journey was ignited after being dazzled by the performance of «TRACES» by «The 7 Fingers», an experience that prompted his decision to delve into the circus arts. Louis began his training at the National Circus School in Châtellerault, completing his education at the Quebec Circus School in 2016, specializing in the demanding disciplines of hoopdiving and dance trapeze. In 2019, he joined the 7 Fingers team, and currently holds the posittion of Head of Casting, leveraging his passion for discovering and nurturing new talents. His trajectory not only reflects his dedication to the circus arts but also underscores his commitment to promoting and nurturing emerging talents within this captivating artistic discipline.

Irina Naumenko, Young Stage Jury 2024

Irina Naumenko

Artist & Casting Advisor @Cirque du Soleil, Canada

Irina has been working in the entertainment industry as an acrobatic stage performer for over 25 years. Over the course of that time, she had the pleasure of collaborating with a wide variety of circus and entertainment companies. For nearly 16 years, she has been working as a solo hand balancer/contortionist and a lead character in different Cirque du Soleil productions (Varekai 2003-2011, Joya 2014-2016, and various special events). Over the course of her career as a performer, Irina also enjoyed working on numerous creations of all shapes and sizes in different parts of the world. She had had the privilege not only to work as a performer but also to collaborate as a consultant/adviser or sometimes offer expert feedback “from the outside” to deepen the performance perspective on some of those projects.

After a successful career as a circus performer, Irina transitioned to the role of an advisor in the casting department of Cirque Du Soleil. Entertainment, particularly circus arts, will always have a special place in her heart. This is something she knows very intimately. Having a profound knowledge of the business, the creative process, and acrobatic performance allows her to have an in-depth perspective, appreciation, and understanding of the hard work of circus performers.

Adrian porter Headshot

Adrian Porter

Head of Higher Education @ National Centre for Circus Arts, London
Managing Board member FEDEC (International Network for Professional Circus Education), Brussels

Adrian is currently the Head of Higher Education at the National Centre for Circus Arts in London. He is a former national squad gymnast who has been teaching circus for over 25 years. He teaches floor-based and aerial disciplines, specializing in hand to hand, Russian swing, Chinese pole and Icarian Games. He oversaw acrobatic development of artists for the Millennium Dome Show London, and went on to co-write the first iteration of the Foundation degree program at the National Centre.

As a circus performer, he has shown versatility as a trampolinist at the Royal Festival Hall; troupe Maison acrobat in several UK corporate shows; and several projects as an aerialist, notably John-Paul Zaccarini’s Hyperactive. Adrian has toured with Cirque du Soleil as head coach, as well as acting as choreographer/dramaturge. His freelance work includes collaborations with the all-female troupe Mimbre, the youth circus program at the Roundhouse London and the 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony.

Adrian holds the position of Board member with FEDEC and Jacksons Lane Theatre in London. He has a passion for the development of the next generation of circus practitioners.

Diana Salles, Young Stage Jury 2024

Diana Salles

Artist, Performer & Dancer

Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1996. She had her first contact with art through dance and theatre, but soon she discovered circus and quickly developed a passion that would lead her to choose it as her career. A circus artist, contemporary dancer, activist, and a proud trans woman. She graduated from the Superior School of Circus Arts (ESAC) in Brussels in 2018 specializing in aerials.

In 2019 she was awarded the bronze medal and the prestigious “Prix de la Ville de Paris” at the 40th Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris, the silver medal and the Audience’s prize at the Iberoamerican Circus Festival (FIRCO), establishing herself as a prominent figure and creator in contemporary circus.

After working with several renowned circus companies and a diverse range of creatives in Europe, Diana started to dedicate her work to the transformative power of connection on stage. Her solo show, DELUSIONAL earned her the International Bursary Award from the Fringe Amsterdam Festival, being acclaimed as a touching and relevant piece for the times we live in. Diana Salles embodies a vibrant force in the circus arts, thought-provoking, breaking boundaries with skill, passion, and truth.

Foto Ian Jenkins

Ian Jenkins

Casting Director & Project Development – Europa Park Germany
Creative Director Blue Banana Entertainment, Germany

Twice World Professional Pair Skating Champion and Former Olympic competitor. Ian has used his 25 years of experience as an artist to create more than 60 shows with varying styles for Europa Park. Ian has worked for 9 years as Europa Park’s ‘Director of Entertainment’, and starts now the new Europa Park challenge to be part of the opening team of MACK ONE FRANCE, situated in France, but only 30 minutes from Europa Park.  Ian now shares his time between the French creative offices and creating and directing shows for Europa Park and other shows around the world as part of the Blue Banana Entertainment portfolio. The Young-Stage festival has provided a valuable platform for many superb artists to show their ability to combine artistry with creativity and physical excellence, and with more than 30 artists having gone on to show their talents at Europa Park, Ian will be again looking to make sure this year is no exception.