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Chapitô - EPAOE

Vocational School for performance arts and techniques

Preparatory school

The Chapitô project started out 30 years ago as a result of the development of new circus artistic movements in Portugal and the actions of artists and circus companies. This unique European project includes an important component of social inclusion by the circus arts. The project has a staff of over 100 people, including over 30 teachers, and a full staff in administrative, pedagogic, production, social and performing areas.

Founded in 1991, the professional school for performing arts and techniques (EPAOE) is one of the Chapitô project main activities and is based on three pillars: culture, social inclusion and training.

Each year it welcomes around 120 students who, at the end of their second year of study, go on placements in various organisations (companies, circus schools in other countries, theatres, etc.) an experience which gives them extensive knowledge of the world of work. The circus arts training also includes a full programme of vocational training for scenery design, costuming, make up, masks, puppets and stage technicians.

The aim is also for students to understand, beyond the development of circus arts, how important these are as a means for the social inclusion of disadvantaged people. Their circus arts training programme is unique in Portugal, and equates to the Level 3 Professional Certificate, in accordance with European regulations.

After over 20 years of existence, dozens of graduates from Chapitô have successfully entered the labor market (behind the scenes, on the stage or own productions). This contributes to the contact with professionals throughout trips and performances, as well as activities held in prestigious cultural venues (among others Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon Forum, Atlantic Pavilion, Centre for Judicial Studies, Taborda Theatre, Pavilion of Knowledge, Sphere Theatre) and the participation in International Fairs and Festivals (EXPO ’98, Cordoba (1998), Hannover (2000), Katerini – Greece (2003), EYE- European Youth Event in Strasbourg (2014).

  • © Chapitô - EPAOE
  • © Chapitô - EPAOE

Training offered

The school offers two learning modules each lasting 3 years.

The courses equate to the 12th year with the Level 4 Professional Certificate in accordance with EU regulations:

IAC (Interpretation and Circus Arts)

Specialized training in the Arts and Entertainment Circus teaches circus techniques and supports students with creation. Closely related to many artistic and sporting disciplines (dance, theater, acrobatics, music, etc.). It trains performers whose professional vocation is the circus and who can then specialize in a particular field.

CenFa (Stage design, Modelling, Costume and Accessories)

The program prepares students in visual creation techniques related to the circus world. Working in interaction with the performers, they should be able to provide stage requirements in line with the performers’ artistic approach with great mobility and flexibility (set design, set construction, costume design, lighting design and sound, etc.).

Apart from providing technical development and consolidating each course’s field of specific learning, the aim is also for students to work across the disciplines within both courses and understand that both are fundamental in the world of work.

At the end of each year, all students put on a short show for the public with techniques they have worked on throughout the year, always involving interdisciplinary work between the two training programmes (IAC and CenFA). Sometimes these shows are directed by artists who come from all over Europe.

Disciplines taught

  • Aerial acrobatics
  • Aerial straps
  • Chinese pole
  • Clowning
  • Equilibristics
  • Floor acrobatics
  • Juggling - Object manipulation
  • Rope
  • Silk
  • Silk marin 
  • Static trapeze
  • Tightrope
  • Trampoline
  • Unicycle
  • © Chapitô - EPAOE
  • © Chapitô - EPAOE

Learn more about this member


  • Director : Teresa Ricou

Academic year

From October to July

Training languages

  • Portuguese (advanced)
  • French, English, Spanish (elementary)


1-7 Rua Costa do Castelo
1149-079 Lisbonne

Founded in 1981

FEDEC member since 1981

  • © Chapitô - EPAOE
  • © Chapitô - EPAOE
  • © Chapitô - EPAOE
  • © Chapitô - EPAOE
  • © Chapitô - EPAOE