CYCAS Circus is Far North Queensland’s professional youth circus troupe formed in 2004 by founder and director Patti Burnheim. Our performances and workshops incorporate circus skills including stilt walking, unicycling, diabolos, poi, plates, fire twirling, juggling, hula hoops, acrobalance, clowning, aerial and much more.

We aim to educate, inform and inspire youth to accomplish something positive for themselves, while creating an interactive experience that encourages young people to value team spirit and appreciate a love for physical activity. The troupe brings students of all ages, sizes and abilities together, enhancing their growth and development physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.

Total Students since 2004


CYCAS logo on brick wallIn 2004, Patti Burnheim arrived in Cairns and, with her previous professional experience in theatre and circus arts, developed the Cairns Youth Circus Arts School (CYCAS) as an after-school activity. The circus was targeted at students not involved in other extra-curricular activities. Many were disadvantaged in some way — displaying anti-social behaviour, disengaged from school or at risk of becoming disengaged, engaging in harmful or illegal activities, or isolated from positive or supportive influences. This included children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

From its roots as an after-school activity at Smithfield State High School, as the school grew CYCAS was moved to a shared space at the Cairns PCYC (and later the Cairns Recreation Centre) and began running classes independently from local schools – this allowed for more students in the area to attend circus classes.

With increasing interest and larger class sizes, the use of a shared facility was becoming more and more challenging – we had too much equipment and not enough space! Ten years after it began, CYCAS was finally ready to move into its own space. Finding a unique space for a unique school is not an easy task – we needed a building with very high ceilings and beams with a sufficient load rating. We looked at many locations and found the one that would become CYCAS’ new home: 54 Sturt St, Bungalow. Close to the city, close to our students, and BIG!

After so many years being teacher, writer, director, producer, bookkeeper and everything-else-er, Patti brought her friend Simon in to handle the business side of CYCAS. With his skills running various businesses and Patti’s creativity, the school really set into its new location and became the hub of circus in Cairns. Locals knew us, tourists visited us, life was good. So good, in fact, we launched a secondary brand to cater for adult classes – Aerial Active. With the existing 15 kids classes every week, Aerial Active brought another 5 weekly classes into the mix, and with it a whole new group of fitness and circus enthusiasts!

In April 2019, the management committee made a financial decision to relocate to a smaller premises at 71 Morehead St, Bungalow – only a 2 minute drive from our Sturt St studio. Over the Easter school holidays, management and volunteers assisted moving all of our equipment, mats and operations to the new location, ready for the start of Term 2 on April 23, 2019.

12 years on from its growth out of an after-school program, CYCAS transitioned into a not-for-profit incorporated association and truly embedded itself into the Cairns community. Now operating as Cairns Youth Circus Arts School Inc, and trading as CYCAS Circus and Aerial Active, it’s incredible to compare where we’re at now to our humble beginnings in a high school gym.

Thanks for being a part of our circus family.


Patti Burnheim

Founder + Lead Teacher

Patti Burnheim arrived in Cairns in 2004 as a junior drama teacher. With previous professional experience in theatre and circus arts, she developed CYCAS as an after-school activity. Patti has won a regional Excellence in Teaching award for incorporating circus skills into the classroom, along with many Regional and State awards for engaging youth in the community (including Regional Queenslander of the Year and the Irene Wilcox award for teaching circus in schools).

Originally from Vermont, USA Patti has a long family history in the circus and she was determined to bring that with her to Australia, now having arrived over 30 years ago. Her teaching background along with her love of bringing joy to children’ faces was the spark that ignited CYCAS, and she has been working feverishly ever since to ensure CYCAS became a mainstay of the Far North.

Simon Frost


Always interested in business and technology, involvement in CYCAS was very left-field for Simon. Originally from Sydney, living in Melbourne for several years before moving to Cairns, Simon’s background is in adding technology to business to improve processes and finding the smartest way to do things.

Applying these skills to CYCAS meant getting everything online, including student registrations, payments, bookkeeping – the lot. While it’s had its challenges this process has been successful, with CYCAS’ online booking system now the key feature of our information systems.

You may see Simon around the studio on his phone or laptop, but please do stop and say hi – he’d love to chat to you.

Location & Contact

The CYCAS Circus Studio is located at Unit 5, 74 Telford St, Earlville QLD 4870, Australia.

For bookings and information, please phone 1800 464 995 or email info@cycascircus.com.au.

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CYCAS Circus Studio