When we last visited the Muse, the Williamsburg circus school that (along with Death By Audio) became another victim of VICE’s southward expansion, they’d just found a new home in an enormous industrial space in the farthest reaches of Bushwick. Angela Buccinni (aka Mama Muse) spoke of the school’s lofty plans to build out the huge space that is more than four times the size of their first location. Things have been quiet over there ever since but Buccinni says that, as of April 1, The Muse has been open for business. “Classes are in full swing,” she said. “I don’t think people understand we’re actually open yet.”
The space has undergone an unbelievable transformation since we last saw it. The once cold, concrete floor typical of a warehouse is now a polished wood floor, chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and there’s even a stage. The place is actually starting to look like a circus gymnasium.
Generous donations and help from clients and a Kickstarter campaign have helped pull things along. “You are walking on it and you can pee in it,” Buccinni said of where most of the money went (toward a six-stall bathroom and the flooring). But much of the labor was carried about by a core group of six people including Buccinni herself. “The sweat equity that went into this place is just incredible,” she said. “We learned to do things we never thought we’d do as artists.”
When we stopped by this week, a troop of acrobats from Montreal were springing about, stretching, and juggling. The Muse also functions as a practice space for circus performers and a private event space. “We just had a massive birthday for a one-year-old,” she said, recalling a spectacular event complete with stilt-walkers, flying lessons, ground acrobats, and performance by the teachers. “I’m not sure if they’re even going to remember it,” she admitted.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done. The coffee shop and cafe are yet to be completed, though the bones for a full kitchen are already in place. A worn-out looking popcorn machine sits unused, big red circular booths are haphazardly arranged close to the entrance, and the backyard still looks like a hobo camp. “You should have seen all the garbage that was back here before,” Buccinni said. But we’re not surprised that cleaning up 3,000 square feet of outdoor space takes some time.
Buccinni promised everything will be in working order come Sunday, April 26 when The Muse will host its grand opening celebration. From 11 am to 3:30 pm the school is offering free classes. “It will be a well-rounded representation of everything we have to offer,” she explained. The program includes classes for families, acrobatics classes for adults, and a circus sampler class that “has a little bit of everything.”
“We want the whole family involved,” she said. “We have activities for adults where they can become kids again, but I think it’s really important that kids have this outlet because circus is a perfect match for kids. They’re play experts and circus is all about discovery.”
Following the free classes, guests will be a break for cocktail hour before the big show happening around 8 pm. “There will be aerial work, acrobatics, fire performances, contortion, magicians, and all sorts of crazy good stuff,” Buccinni said. “It’s basically a circus variety show featuring some of New York’s finest circus performers.”
General admission costs $10, but if you’re feeling fancy VIP tickets can be had for $100. Buccinni is hoping the grand opening will be a way to introduce The Muse to people who aren’t familiar with the school’s programming and will be a means of sparking interest. “We’re really hoping this becomes a community, artistic hub for Brooklyn.”
The Muse is located at 350 Moffat Street in Bushwick.