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The Folk Circus

circusA Brooklyn bar is riding a fresh wave of popular interest in "acrobats, aerialists, blockheads … and sword swallowers," reports Richard Morgan in The New York Times (6/1//14). Last summer, Bizarre Bushwick, as the bar is known, "introduced The Folk Circus," which "takes a local band’s album, grafts a plot onto it as the story is played out" by various circus performers. "We took something mundane and made it exciting and special," says Joshua Brocki, one of the performers.

The Folk Circus has been a hit, with "crowds that started at about 30 people" now hovering "around 150." Joseph V. Melillo of the Brooklyn Academy of Music explains the appeal: "Circus is a hybrid art," he says. "It’s ballet, dance, musical theater, gymnastics, narrative storytelling, performance art, everything. You can enter a ballet fan and leave a musical theater fan, too, and that doesn’t happen for the Lincoln Center crowd, where the goal is just to clap politely from your $400 center orchestra seat."

Circus does indeed seem to be having a moment in NYC — in nightclubs, dinner theater shows — even gyms are now offering "circus yoga." The Coney Island Sideshow school meanwhile reports "its biggest graduating class ever," while The Muse, an acrobatics gym, is enjoying rapid growth. Monique Martin, a City Parks Foundation programmer, is bringing a circus to its SummerStage series. "For us, it’s really ideal because it’s all ages, all budgets, all cultures," she says. "It’s one of the most equalizing genres I’ve seen in a long time."