The Toulouse-Occitanie circus arts graduate school (Ésacto'Lido) is a school that awards the Higher National Vocational Diploma for Circus Artists (DNSP).

In September 2019, Ésacto'Lido became the third school in France, alongside the Centre National des Arts du Cirque de Châlons-en-Champagne and the Académie Fratellini, authorised to award a qualifying diploma for the profession of circus artist.

Ésacto'Lido’s creation is a continuation of Le Lido’s vocational training, established in 1994, which has produced some iconic contemporary circus companies. In 20 years, Le Lido’s vocational training has become an ‘institution’ recognised as a player involved in the development of contemporary circus forms. The school’s singular educational approach is officially recognised and valued by the institutions which have driven the graduate school project and continue to support it (Toulouse Métropole, Toulouse City Council, the French Ministry of Culture, the Occitania Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) and the Occitania Regional Council).

Ésacto'Lido’s key challenge is to continue Le Lido’s singular educational approach whilst giving it a new academic and state-approved dimension. The training programme, created in partnership with the Jean-Jaurès University of Toulouse, allows students to obtain a degree in “communication and performing arts, specialising in dance and circus”. The diploma is included in the European Higher Education System (LMD) and registered in the National Directory of Professional Certification (RNCP).

Singular educational methods

The school’s educational approach serves the artists. It helps them find their signature and artistic authenticity. It builds on circus techniques and revisits drama, dance, visual arts and any other creative form that might influence and enhance the artistic offerings of the contemporary stage, yet without losing the distinctive features of the circus.

The training course places special emphasis on personal style and searching for a body language specific to the circus entertainer. 

This educational approach leads students to: 

  • view themselves as ‘top-level athletes’ in their circus art, where everyone should fully achieve the movement true to themselves, without a model predetermined by the long history of the circus.

Students are supported with self-confrontation where there is no way out or solution other than themselves and their experiences. Therein lies the teaching of the Le Lido graduate school.

Supporting professional integration

To improve student professionalisation and transition into the workplace, the school offers various periods of training and meetings dedicated to professional integration. These schemes rely on partnerships with players in the circus arts network at regional, national and international levels. The challenge here is to provide students with a complete overview of the profession of circus artist (creation, production and distribution).


The Circus Arts Center was established in 1988 in a former local cinema bought by the Toulouse City Council, under the leadership of Henri Guichard.

In 1993, the Lido’s team developed creative workshops to train amateurs to become professionals.

In 1998, the Lido started a reciognised vocational training course with the funding of the “Mairie de Toulouse”, the French Ministry of Culture and the “Région Midi Pyrénées”. The Lido’s mission is, firstly, to maintain the quality of its leisure programme (for more than 500 people, including children and adults) and the resource centre and, secondly, to ensure that the vocational training programme is set up, along with the creative studio.

In 2006 the Lido added a third year to its vocational course, dedicated to professional integration, in partnership with “Circuits”, subsidised Auch venue.

In 2008-2009,  the Lido developed the PACT (Pépinière des arts du cirque de Toulouse / Toulouse Circus Arts Incubator) in cooperation with la Grainerie to improve its role as the patron of young artists, and to continue the work of the former creative studio.

In 2018, the prefiguration association of the école supérieure des arts du cirque Toulouse-Occitanie arts was created in order to set up a higher school of circus arts.

In 2019, the école supérieure des arts du cirque Toulouse-Occitanie (ESACTO) welcomes its first class of students who will follow a 3-year training course.

Curriculum offered
  • Qualifying vocational training : 2 year full-time (30 students)
    School year from late September to late July
  • Professional integration year following the qualifying training (12 students) 

Higher education: DNSP circus artist (180 ECTS -European Credits Transfer System).
Support for professional integration

  • Opening of applications: December 13, 2021
  • Application deadline: January 31
  • Pre-selection: from 02 to 11 May 2022
  • Selection internship: May 13-16, 2022

PLEASE NOTE: Pending new premises, we will not be able to accommodate certain disciplines: straps, washington trapeze, capillotraction and wire. Candidates presenting these 4 disciplines cannot therefore apply. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Registration link on Esacto'Lido's website, 'Applications' page.

School year

From September until July

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