National Youth Circus Day: SPOTLIGHT ON

The SPOTLIGHT ON awards acknowledge the significant contributions made by individuals to their youth circus communities!

We congratulate:

Executive Director, Warehouse Circus 

Aleshia has been a driving and uniting force in the Australian youth circus  sector from the very moment she’d joined its ranks just five years ago.

Aleshia has achieved amazing things for our organisation at a local level and for the entire sector on a national scale. In Canberra she has established innovative and highly successful new programs and collaborations with both education, social service and arts organisations and provided exciting new artistic and skill development opportunities for our students, staff and emerging artists. Our organisation has grown in size, strength and sustainability under her incredible leadership.

Aleshia also played a vital role in the development of the ground breaking document Youth Circus in Australia: A manifesto for the development of the Australian Youth Circus Sector 2014 – 2020. Her incredible skills in collaboration and facilitation, combined with her undying generosity of spirit and passion for youth circus, were integral to the completion of the manifesto and she continues to contribute great value to the sector.

NYCD Headshot AerializeBEL MACEDONE 
Director of the Aerialize Youth Performance Troupe 

Bel has been Directing the Aerialize Youth Performanc Troupe since its inception, over 7 years ago. Bel’s background is as a physical theatre/circus performer and youth theatre director with a Bachelor of Creative Arts and Master of Teaching (Theatre).  Bels passion for the development of the ‘performative’ side of the troupe, in order to engage them in working with content that means something to them shows through the constant development of their awe-inspiring work.  Bel’s philosophy is to make physical theatre with young people that is pertinent to what life is throwing at them. This was the basis of their new award winning work, directed by Bel, “InsomniAIR:The Art Of Dropping Off”.

Bel has been a dedicated collaborator at the annual ‘ACAPTA Youth Circus Symposiums” for… a very long time now… and is proud of her involvement in the devising of the Youth Circus Manifesto!

Training Director and leader of Circa’s young performance troupe, Circa Zoo

Whether driving participants to smash some personal goals, crafting killer shows with young performance troupe Circa Zoo or sharing the joy of circus with remote communities in regional Queensland, Bree LeCornu’s passion for circus is at the heart of everything she does as the Director of Circa’s Training Centre.

Having grown up as a ‘circus kid’ herself, she believes the positive impact of youth circus to be undeniable. Her own amazing experience has created in her a need to give back to a community that has played a huge role in shaping the artist and trainer she is today.

“These kids are the future, we need to put our heart and soul into them to see circus continue to grow and thrive” – Bree LeCornu. Bree’s absolute dedication to her role and dynamic presence in Circa’s studio has seen 2015 be a year of hard work, growth and a huge amount of fun!

Trainer, Flipside Circus

Christine has been working at Flipside Circus for 4 years. In this time Christine has demonstrated her total commitment to providing a child centred teaching practice. Her skill and sensitivity in guiding even the youngest circus student and showing them the joy that circus activities provide is inspirational. Christine also has great ability at instilling creativity into her teaching practice and encouraging young people to extend their technical and performance skills. Over the past three years Christine has contributed a huge amount of her time and energy to delivering our Social Circus program to young people in central Queensland.


Ruccis Circus

Esmerelda came to Ruccis initially to enrol her daughter but eventually found the courage to give circus classes a go and has never looked back. She has faced many physical challenges along the way due to a form of scoliosis that has meant she has had to pace herself with her training, however her enthusiasm and community spirit has meant that she now volunteers as our marketing manager and she is one of the hardest working people I know. Esmerelda produces the face of Ruccis with our online content but furthermore she makes it her business to ensure that everyone she comes across at Ruccis is comfortable and well informed, helping the community progress and grow.

Corrugated Iron Youth Arts

Josh and Luke are brothers from the regional town of Katherine. Inspired by a travelling circus as youngsters, they have rigorously pursued life-long engagement with circus. Largely self-taught, when they relocated to Darwin to study, they joined Corrugated Iron – teaching, and pursuing their artistic practice through the Reckless Circus Troupe.

Over ten years at Corrugated Iron they have:-

  • Inspired hundreds of young artists to embed circus in their lives
  • Sought opportunities for professional learning including Social Circus Training
  • Motivated young artists and Corrugated Iron to devise shows beyond skills demonstration and present these at community events and schools
  • Invested in young artists’ successful participation in national and international unicycle trials
  • Insitgated the National Unicycle Trials being hosted in Darwin in 2015

Both have a keen sense of social responsibility, and, as mentors, have used circus to enhance student learning. Luke and Josh enthusiastically embody the concept of being creative thinkers through their circus and this underpins their careers in architecture and law respectively.


CEO, Lolly Jar Circus

Judy set up Lolly Jar Circus two years ago, drawing on experiences as a lawyer, a Cirkidz parent and a volunteer for the Special Olympics. Her aim was to establish a fully inclusive circus school. LJC has two classes per week which fully integrate young people with disabilities or socially at risk with friends and siblings who are able and settled. It also runs numerous outreach sessions. Safety is the first priority and fun the second. Amazing progress has been made physically and socially and some parents have even reported dramatic improvement in verbal skills. Judy is a volunteer; her reward is the happy faces of participants, their families and carers and the trainers and volunteers.

NYCD Headshot LaraLARA DEAK 
Vulcana Kids

Lara Deak created the Vulcana Kids program with passion and gusto. Vulcana asked her to create the program due to her extensive experience in community circus, it was clear she was the right person for the job. Lara went to work passionately creating a program with a play based paradigm that could fit in nicely into Vulcana’s ethos. Lara was able to rally together a community in just one year to give the Vulcana Kids program an amazing kick-start that simply would not have been the same with out her. She is an inspiration to many and an asset to any community. Vulcana is grateful that she was there to get its Youth sector started, it was an amazing effort and huge contribution.

Founder of Spaghetti Circus

Over 20 years ago in the hills of Mullumbimby, Leonie Mills started Spaghetti Circus and so began motivating young people to find their inner circus performer. With some of the most amazing child-wrangling and youth-inspiring skills ever witnessed Leonie has taught physical feats, created intricate costumes, sourced and repaired equipment, nurtured a strong and inclusive community, encouraged people to go beyond their own expectations and launched young circus artists onto the world stage.

Leonie has collaborated to create a fun, vibrant environment where the Spaghetti family are empowered to explore and develop their potential. Spaghetti Circus is more alive when Leonie enters the building and yet, the circus school is self-sufficient and can run without her – a great legacy towards sustainability. Spaghetti Circus is locally famous and nationally renowned. Leonie Mills is behind the success and longevity of a little town’s big circus footprint.

NYCD Headshot MaraMARA MACS 
Castlemaine Circus

Mara has been working as a youth circus trainer in Central Victoria for nearly 20 years. Mara was a founding trainer with Castlemaine Circus Inc, heading up Castlemaine Circus’s pilot program in 2013. Mara continues today as a head trainer for Castlemaine Circus Inc. Mara has a strong sense of the positive ways the children can contribute to their community through performance, and the strong, trusting, creative friendships that develop between children of varying ages and schools. Mara is truly committed to providing circus training and performance opportunities for Castlemaine Circus students for the long term.

Mara’s dedication to all the children’s growth in circus is truly commendable. Her greatest gifts to her students include warmth, a playful and positive attitude, whilst inspiring commitment and guiding her students to achieve their best.Mara is a dedicated and active community member coordinating and organising many community events, festivals, and performances in particular involving young people and their engagement in these events with circus.

An experienced acrobatics coach, accredited with Gymnastics Australia, Mara has a wide range of interests including promoting the arts and cultural activites, tolerance, sustainable practices and promoting a healthy environment. Mara has had many years of dedicated training in several acrobatic forms of martial arts including Free Form, WuSu, and Capioera.

Chairperson of the Slipstream Circus board

Meg was introduced to Slipstream through her children, who were involved in circus classes. Her children grew up and moved on, but Meg stayed! In her time at Slipstream, she has fulfilled many roles, from trainer, to volunteer, to her current role as chairperson of the board. Meg’s grant writing skills, countless volunteer hours, and commitment to trainer and student welfare have made her an invaluable member of the Slipstream family. In addition to this, Meg still finds the time to attend circus classes at Slipstream, balancing on her hands or defying gravity on the trampoline!


Short Courses Coordinator, National Institute of Circus Arts

Paula coordinates Short Courses at NICA and is a passionate and caring contributor to youth circus here at NICA. Paula works tirelessly to ensure that our youth programs are fun, exciting, engaging and challenging for all participants and works meticulously to ensure that our trainers are providing the best  and most up to date training techniques. Paula engages current bachelor students and graduates of NICA as short course trainers to help develop their skills further.



Trainer, Circus Oz

Circus Oz values Scott McBurnie as an especially skilled and adaptable trainer. Scottie grew up as a member of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus and recently returned as head trainer on a tour of NSW and QLD. He has been a trainer for many Circus Oz youth programs including education, outreach, accessible and public classes. Amongst other programs, he is currently delivering a new Circus pilot program called JetPAC in partnership with Banyule City Council, for young adults with disabilities.

Scottie is also a trainer for Kinder Circus and Circus Spot, and has worked on a number of community outreach programs for other companies.

Circus has taught Scottie life skills such as teamwork, leadership and discipline and how youth circus positively impacts a young person’s life. Scottie is known for embodying and promoting the values of youth circus including diversity and inclusion, in his teaching work. He is not only a great teacher of physical skills but also nurtures the culture of respect and positive collaborative relationships.

Artistic Director of the Circus Arts Byron Bay Performance Troupe 

Simon has a background in dance, gymnastics and Directing, he has brought a wealth of knowledge to the youth circus sector in the Northern Rivers. He has been the Artistic Director of the Circus Arts Byron Bay Performance Troupe since 2014 and was previously the Artistic Director of Spaghetti Circus from 2004-2013.  As a circus coach and director he continues to inspire and challenge his students, elevating skill levels, pushing performance boundaries and creating work that is both highly skilled and thought provoking for both the participant and the audience.  He is an asset to both Circus Arts Byron Bay and the wider industry, having undoubtedly raised the bar of youth circus during his time in Northern NSW.  We believe he should be acknowledged for his ongoing commitment to youth training and development and hope he is seriously considered for the national award.

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Australian Circus & Physical Theatre Association