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house of yes

neighborhood: east williamsburg | space type: performance venue | active since: 2008 | links: website, facebook, twitter

update, summer 2014: In sad but of course not shocking news, the House of Yes lost their East Williamsburg lease in August 2013. (If you want to take a look back, the Atlantic has an awesome piece on all three incarnations, from Bed-Stuy to Ridgewood to East Williamsburg.)

But why get nostalgic? House of Yes 4.0 will be opening in Bushwick the fall! Want to help make it happen, and get some wild and incredible rewards to boot? Donate to their Kickstarter, and help keep the Brooklyn underground alive.

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I am really overjoyed about this post, because House of Yes is actually my very favorite space in Brooklyn (so far), and one of the spaces that inspired this whole project. It’s an aerialist training facility and performance venue in a huge former ice warehouse, and they put on the most high-energy, high-caliber, innovative and astonishing shows I’ve seen. They make all their costumes onsite and build their own sets, they collaborate with Brooklyn bands for live musical accompaniment, and every show is just spectacular, bristling with staggeringly talented aerialists, trapezists, fire-dancers, contortionists, burlesque acts, singers, and musicians.

Anya Sapozhnikova

 

Besides putting on phenomenal shows in a fantastic converted warehouse—in one of the most vibrant corners of East Williamsburg, down the block from 3rd Ward, Werdink, Shea Stadium, the former Bushwick Project for the Arts and Bushwick Music Studios, and more—many of the House of Yes gals make up the loose conglomeration of female acrobats Lady Circus, and they are tireless, performing at all the best underground Brooklyn parties and Manhattan cabarets, like Shanghai Mermaid and Café Panache, among many many others. And the mainstream world is taking notice: the Lady Circus performers were featured as a costume-design challenge on the incredibly popular show Project Runway in 2011!

Don’t you want to hear from the woman responsible for it all? Read on for my interview with Anya Sapozhnikova, founder of House of Yes and Lady Circus and crucial fixture in the Brooklyn underground performance scene.

photo from designglut.com

brooklyn spaces: I first heard about House of Yes when it burned down.
Anya: Yeah, that was our first space. The thing about the fire was that it made us realize that people really cared about what we were doing, and the mobilization of the underground scene in Brooklyn and beyond really blew us away. Our friend threw us a benefit party at Pussycat Lounge, and all the underground parties that were happening that night canceled their events and moved everyone there. The benefit was immensely successful, and we went from having nothing—we were all homeless, all of our shit was gone—to being able sign a lease on a new space.

Circus of Circus

brooklyn spaces: Was House of Yes originally conceived as a studio and teaching space, or was it always a performance venue?
Anya: The old space was just “Let’s do this and see what happens.” The new space was always going to be a venue in the evening and a training and rehearsal space during the day. Upstairs we also have a sewing studio, Make Fun. To be able to flourish and produce as much work as we want to, we need every square inch of the space making money all the time. We aren’t like, “Oh, we’re DIY culture, we’re going to dumpster everything.” Sustainability’s great, but we’re really excited about doing high-production-value shows, we want to do the best we possibly can, and we don’t want money holding us back. We have this state-of-the-art facility that enables us to create a show from start to finish, from sitting down with all your friends and working out the concept to having a sold-out closing night. What makes it so beautiful to me is that we concentrate on every single aspect: the costuming, the rehearsals, the movement, the sound, the promotion, everything. To me, live theatre is the most all-encompassing, the most mixed-media way to produce art. So in order for us to do our best, we’re always thinking about how we can generate income so these things can keep happening and we can keep growing.

The Wonderneath

brooklyn spaces: There’s a lot of these types of spaces around, but I feel like House of Yes is more intentional, and the caliber of shows here is higher. Do you think that’s partly because you have such a multifaceted facility?
Anya: I think we’re just really ambitious. There are a lot of different people involved and everyone just brings a huge amount of passion. Everyone involved in the space is so hands-on. We know what we need, there’s always an open dialogue, and it’s just a really tight group of friends who are all really, really ambitious.

New Faux Fashion Show

brooklyn spaces: How many people are involved in the day-to-day running of the space?
Anya: I don’t know. A lot. Nikki and Airin run Sky Box, which is the aerial component of the space, and that’s classes, workshops, training, rehearsals. Tara and Kae, who’s my main partner in the space, they run the sewing studio. Kae and I do the majority of the booking. Hasaan, one of the original founding members, runs the sound studio.

AHOYA, student showcase

brooklyn spaces: How long does it take to put a show together?
Anya: Two weeks.
brooklyn spaces: Seriously?
Anya: Yeah. $piderman! was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and it was done in two weeks. In two weeks we wrote, produced, directed, cast, made costumes, figured out the craziest lighting you’ve ever seen, everything. It was a huge pain in the ass and it caused a bunch of nervous breakdowns, but I think everyone secretly enjoyed it.

$piderman: Turn on the Lights!

backstage during 2010's Christmas Spectacular

brooklyn spaces: Do you have a favorite show, or one that’s particularly triumphant or special?
Anya: I like them all for different reasons, but I think that the Christmas Spectacular is probably my favorite. For a lot of the people involved, it feels like you have a real family. Me and Kae curate it, and it’s just everyone we know who we think is talented and amazing who we want to hang out with for three weeks straight. People can do whatever the fuck they want, and we kind of guide it and arrange it. I realized it was my favorite show when I was standing backstage and there was an eleven-year-old boy dressed in drag next to a fifty-three-year-old transvestite dressed as a man, and they’re dancing their asses off and I’m holding this giant spotlight, getting ready to go on, and I was just like, “Wow, this is really beautiful, we’re a family, and we’re celebrating this holiday that’s all about family.” It’s kind of really wholesome in a fucked up way. So that’s my favorite show. It’s low pressure, but really high talent, and it’s always good. Airin said it’s entertainment at its worst dressed in its best. High-quality chaos.

AHOYA! student showcase

brooklyn spaces: Being in this amazing corner of Brooklyn, do you have a relationship with the other people in the neighborhood?
Anya: Yeah, absolutely. It’s awesome to see this really accessible gentrification, where it’s not some random guy you’ll never meet building some random building you’ll never live in. Our peers aren’t afraid of becoming entrepreneurs and businesspeople, really pursuing what they want to do and doing it well, doing it in an interesting way that they care about. I love being in this community of business owners and curators and producers who are all young people, we all ride bikes and hang out on rooftops together. It’s like a different kind of grown-up. I really enjoy that.

Amber Dinner Theatre

brooklyn spaces: What are your goals for the future of the space?
Anya: I want to become a New York City institution. I want to make theatre in New York City better. It’s okay for theatre to be really fucking entertaining. I want to create art that’s accessible and meaningful and a really good time too.

***

Like this? Read about more performance spaces: Gowanus Ballroom, Big Sky Works, Rubulad, The Muse

2 Comments

  1. Scarlett Hostein
    Posted 20 May ’14 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Good afternoon

    How are you doing?

    My name is Scarlett, I’m a French assistant producer on a French/American feature. For a couple of scenes of our modest budget feature film we are looking for a warehouse. House of yes looks amazing and it could perfectly matches with what we are looking for.

    The shoot will take place during the month of July (from the 6th to the 30th of JULY) and we probably need the whole location for only few days. (To be determinated)

    We are a young and motivate crew with a modest budget but we’d love to speak with you to see if it’s possible to plan a visit or firstly to speak about the opportunity to shoot in your amazing place and to speak of course about your rate!

    I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you,

    Scarlett Hostein

    • Posted 4 Sep ’14 at 4:28 am | Permalink

      Hi there,I am a french ecretlo producer and composer called UTOK2ME? I’m living in Bordeaux, a city where I play my music. My first E.P. was released in March in some e-stores: Itunes Music Store, Napster, Juno Download, Amazon and Rhapsody.I am currently finishing my second E.P.I like the cold side of the artists from your label, and the subtle way they make us dance. I also try to be in that mood, between pure dance music and a spoonful of sophisticated music. You can listen to my music at: http://www.myspace.com/utok2meHope you’ll give me back your advices, reactions and other things.Goodbye!Boris A. Aka UTOK2ME?

14 Trackbacks

  1. By big sky works » brooklyn spaces on 27 Jun ’11 at 7:48 am

    […] this? Read about more crazy performance spaces: House of Yes, Cave, Rubulad, Gowanus Ballroom, Bushwick […]

  2. By werdink / ninja pyrate » brooklyn spaces on 27 Jun ’11 at 7:50 am

    […] Markets and shares tips with Bushwick Print Lab; Krisstina pals around with one of the girls from House of Yes who started Make Fun; their space is literally downstairs from Shea […]

  3. By gowanus ballroom » brooklyn spaces on 27 Jun ’11 at 7:51 am

    […] this? Read about more art & events spaces: Big Sky Works, House of Yes, Cave, Rubulad, Werdink / Ninja […]

  4. By rubulad » brooklyn spaces on 27 Jun ’11 at 7:52 am

    […] is an exciting post for me, because Rubulad—along with House of Yes, the 123 Community Center, and a handful of others—was what inspired me to start this project in […]

  5. By cave » brooklyn spaces on 27 Jun ’11 at 7:53 am

    […] this? Read about other performance spaces: House of Yes, Big Sky Works, Rubulad, Bushwick […]

  6. […] Werdink / Ninja Pyrate, 3rd Ward, The Archeron (which used to be Bushwick Music Studios), and House of Yes, among other great […]

  7. By bushwick music studios » brooklyn spaces on 27 Jun ’11 at 7:54 am

    […] few blocks from some other great Brooklyn spaces, including Werdink / Ninja Pyrate, Shea Stadium, House of Yes, 3rd Ward, and Bushwick Project for the Arts. When Tito left town, the space changed hands and […]

  8. By red lotus room » brooklyn spaces on 7 Jul ’11 at 6:57 am

    […] like Reina Terror, Christine Geiger, Lady C and Flambeaux. And of course I adore Anya and Kae from House of Yes, they’re both fantastic […]

  9. By arch p&d on 12 Aug ’11 at 2:48 am

    […] Lohan—as well as working with many other underground Brooklyn spaces, like Red Lotus Room and House of Yes. They also throw art salons and parties, have open hours as a gallery, and are open to […]

  10. By shea stadium on 12 Aug ’11 at 3:33 am

    […] south of Grand Street and east of Bushwick Ave. Within just a few blocks you have 3rd Ward, House of Yes, Werdink / Ninja Pyrate, the Acheron, Bushwick Project for the Arts, and Shea Stadium. Plus the […]

  11. By chez bushwick on 1 Nov ’11 at 3:41 pm

    […] this? Read about other performance spaces: Cave, Bushwick Starr, Gowanus Ballroom, House of Yes, Big Sky […]

  12. By the muse on 15 Jan ’12 at 7:01 am

    […] Are you involved in the larger aerial and dance community in Brooklyn? Are people coming from House of Yes or Big Sky Works or Streb? Angela: A lot of aerialists are involved, a lot of freelance artists. […]

  13. By 6 Charles Place on 5 Feb ’12 at 11:20 pm

    […] being forced out by their landlord, Bushwick Project for the Arts getting evicted by the city, House of Yes (in its original incarnation) burning down, Silent Barn being ransacked, Monkeytown and Change You […]

  14. By gemini & scorpio loft on 20 May ’13 at 2:34 pm

    […] this? Read about more underground nightlife: Rubulad, the Lab, Red Lotus Room, Newsonic, House of Yes, Gowanus […]