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Performers dance and wave their playing card glittery outfits
Company XIV puts on a sexy, circus-y burlesque that surprises and titillates
Mark Shelby Perry

Sexy and Spellbinding: 5 Alternative Circuses to See ASAP!

Circuses around the world, but with twists of burlesque, magic, theatre and more, courtesy of one of the co-founders of NYC's House of Yes.

Anya Sapozhnikova is a co-founder of House of Yes in Brooklyn.
March 14, 2024 11:27 am

Anya Sapozhnikova co-founded House of Yes in 2008, and it is, in the opinion of your (not so) humble Wondercade founder and editor, perhaps NYC’s most adventurous and most louche performing arts venue. It’s a nightclub that has deep roots in the circus arts…so Anya knows her stuff. These recs from all over the world are circuses of delights…but so much more. Here are 5 of her favorites. -NPH

Two acrobats intertwined in a net hanging from the ceiling
Sexy and symmetrical. Nice.
Courtesy of Quixotic

Whiskey Dynamite – Quixotic

This troupe is based out of Kansas City, and they have an amazing theater in a shopping mall — I ended up flying there on a whim, because I kept seeing these amazing Instagram videos. Because they’re in the Midwest, they get a collection of artists that don’t usually come through the New York or Vegas circuit. I got there, and it was this whole neon cowboy saloon with a giant golden skull hanging over the stage. And it was amazing.

Acrobats perform in front of neon rectangles
Simple effects, but oh so magical
Millissa Martin

The Mirror – Gravity & Other Myths

I found this show in Berlin this summer called The Mirror. It was an innovative, amazing, heartfelt, artful, perfect mix of really profound skill, humor and social commentary. I didn’t expect it to be one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I think it was 12, maybe 15 performers, and it’s all ground acrobatics and dance-based. Their opening number has these three black panels, like curtains, that were on individual tracks, and they were shuffling around the order of which curtain was blocking which part of the stage. It’s almost like they were juggling these curtains with their bodies. And, simultaneously, they were also all changing their clothes! It’s this simple concept, but so perfectly executed. Then during intermission, they take a camera into the dressing room and it appears on an LED panel on stage. They’re like showing each other cat pictures on their phones and just fucking around, which takes you to this intimate, not-so-serious environment.

Two men on stage with one suspended into the air launched from a seesaw
Amazing acts in an amazing space
Kevin Berne

Dear San Francisco – The 7 Fingers

The 7 Fingers is probably my number-one most-favorite acrobatic troupe. Their show at Club Fugazi is a love letter to San Francisco. It’s all super high in skill level, but it’s not sparkles and burlesque — it’s very jeans and a T-shirt, with the most incredible artistry when it comes to acrobatics. They do everything from hoop diving to hand-to-hand to tumbling.

Performers dance and wave their playing card glittery outfits
Company XIV puts on a sexy, circus-y burlesque that surprises and titillates
Mark Shelby Perry

Company XIV

I love XIV in NYC because they are fully committed to the most extreme type of decadence I’ve ever seen, from the theater itself to the gorgeous costumes and the baroque ballet choreography. It is always impeccable and not an eyelash out of place. The talent is top-notch, it’s tight as hell but sassy and loose in all the right places. Makes you feel like you’re in a different era of theatre.

Artistic photo of woman naked with an arm covering her bust
Creative genius Anya Sapozhnikova has a new show this month that meditates on life and death in a magic-infused spectacle
Courtesy Anya Sapozhnikova

Death Magic Chaos – House of Yes

I’ve been wanting to do a magic collaboration at House of Yes for 8 years, and I’m finally doing it. It’s not spectacle magic like David Copperfield, but it’s magic enhanced with very big circus acts. But I’m also going to be telling this story about how I almost died in front of a live audience in 2010 during an aerial act. The show is about how we all have this desire to live dangerously, and the closer we get to death, the more magical life feels — it’s big and sexy, but has a dark undertone. Oh, I’m also going to be getting tattooed every night…like, permanent tattoos. It’s opening on March 22nd.

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