Suzi Winson

Circus Warehouse

"The best part of my day, honestly, is to teach dance. I feel really inspired by my students and by the young people who are defining what circus and dance are going to be."

Ever want to run away and join the circus? Team Art As Air were lucky enough to do just that one cold, windy evening. We were at the Circus Warehouse in LIC, NY to see co-owner/creator Suzi Winson, hoping to gain insight into what makes her “fly.” We came away inspired:

“I came from a sedentary family. I think the story was that I did a somersault in my crib and they took me to the doctor. They thought, ‘is there something terribly wrong with her.’ I started in ballet and it took me a long time to get it. It’s not a willful or intellectual process, and you have to be broken a bit. You have a master and they tell you what to do. Dancing has less abandonment than everyone thinks; it is incredibly calculated. There’s passion and you bring everything you’ve ever been to dancing, but you’re a vehicle for a choreographer, and it takes a long time to become an artist as a dancer.

People come to me with original movement, and it’s fascinating. I have to resist the temptation to iron them out. If you’re a bad teacher you can ruin people. You can iron out all of the creativity, lust and passion. It’s really easy to just run right over that. I’m not making prima ballerinas; I want people who are going to be the next generation of great dance artists and circus artists, and I want them to move you.

I was very charmed by circus acts and clowning. I started to fly, and that felt like dancing in the air. I got my wings back because I felt very injured from dance and I wanted to get off my feet. When I got into the air…it felt incredible. I got carried away with flying, flyers and circus, and accumulated a crowd of people from new circus and traditional circus. We put together a professional school. I made a place where people can practice and invent things, but with a lot of form, and they all study dance with me. I feel my generation is the last that really studied with people who trained authentically. I feel responsible for passing it on, and there’s no other way to learn dance; you can’t learn it from YouTube. I can tell.

I feel really inspired by my students and the young people who are defining what circus and dance are going to be. They’re making all of these hybrid forms with visuals and fine art with the dimension of being in the air.

This is a problem where I’m not as good a business person as I should be, as I never have anything in mind. I always think with my artist head and I like to do the thing that comes up. I’m not prepared with a business plan, and all of my business associates say ‘Suzi get out of the artist head, you’re just enjoying the moment. You actually have to have a goal.’ I’ll figure it out…"

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