We’re thrilled to welcome Anya Sapozhnikova to Body & Pole this month! Co-founder of Brooklyn’s “performance-fueled night club” House of Yes, she has spent the past 18 years doing nothing but producing and performing across a vast variety of circus disciplines, usually with a strong emphasis on the sexy, the dangerous and/or the absurd. She’s also an accomplished aerialist, however rarely does she teach class. We’re extra lucky to have her on the schedule with a speciality silks class (“Sex, Silks & Rock ‘n’ Roll”), and as our September Soirée host! Learn more about Anya’s background in movement, her creation and involvement in House of Yes, and much more below:
What is your background in movement and dance?
I started moving when I was around 5 years old in Moscow, Russia when my parents put me in rhythmic gymnastics. Upon immigrating to the US, I landed a little ballet scholarship at a local studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was OBSESSED with ballet, but after 4 years, we unfortunately moved away so I was no longer able to continue that pursuit. I moved to NYC at 18 and through a very random set of circumstances got introduced to stilt walking, which then led me to aerial silks, (which I immediately decided to dedicate my whole life to) which then led to partnered aerial work across every apparatus that exists. How was I able to pay for all the aerial classes and all the training space I wanted at 18-19 years of age without having any work papers? The STRIP CLUB of course!
What inspired you to create House of Yes?
I was very involved with the Brooklyn underground party scene, and the more performance art I created for the chaotic setting that is underground warehouse parties, the more control I craved with the work I produced. In addition to this, all I ever wanted to do all day was train aerial acrobatics, and back then, in 2006, space for this was extremely limited and extremely expensive. Add to this the naïveté that comes with being 20 years old and having no clue whatsoever the insane amount of work running a space would be. When you think about these three things and these three things only, starting an art space is not just a no brainer but it is the only option.
What was your goal/mission in creating House of Yes?
There was no goal and no mission in starting the space, there was just the personal drive to make as much art as possible with as many friends as possible and have as much fun as possible doing it.
Is there any significance or personal meaning to the name, “House of Yes”?
It started out as our actual place of residence so therefore “House”; “Yes” is the most positive all encompassing let’s-just-go-for-it-no-matter-what word.
How do you view your contribution to the aerial world?
There have been 3 House of Yes’s in total, and the second one ran a full-on aerial studio with tons of classes. What separated us from the other two major studios at the time is we had a huge emphasis on training aerial for the sake of performing it and doing so at the same space and as soon as possible. I think our mission of providing such a clear cut path and goal of taking what you learn in the studio and putting it out onto the stage, the party, the world was a big contribution. As we’ve matured, especially with our 3rd incarnation of the space being what it is today, we contribute a whole lot to the aerial community by providing tons of space for performing and a lot of employment for performers.
You mention three different House of Yes spaces — how has your current space evolved since you opened it in 2016?
We’ve gotten a lot tighter, more professional, more efficient, more polished. Our community has grown tenfold in size and in the diversity of our audiences as well as the diversity of the types of events we present.
What inspired you to start Nasty Wednesday?
Nasty Wednesday started out as “Nasty Baby – Anya‘s Fantasy Birthday Party” for my 32nd birthday in 2019. It was such a raging success we did it a couple of times not on my birthday. It gave me my first taste of running a utopian strip club and I’ve toyed with the idea of doing it ever since. I’ve always loved the strip clubs that I’ve worked in despite them being much less than “utopian”. So creating one that doesn’t suck was always this itch I wanted to scratch. Once we opened our side room to House of Yes, The Onyx Room, I could no longer resist and just said fuck it its time.
How did you connect with Kyra and Body & Pole?
I honestly don’t remember who approached whom, but when we were just opening House of Yes 3 (thats the current one) the connection happened and Kyra was looking for a place to do her show AERA DANCE and we were like “badass, sexy, intense avante-garde performance art by people who seem to really know what they’re doing?! Fuck yes! we need this in here!” We were honestly just so excited to learn how to produce shows from them, and it was really exciting to see our brand new space host something of this caliber. I think after that we’ve always had a tremendous amount of mutual respect for each other. We are both women somehow through sheer determination succeeding off of doing weird subversive sexy powerful stuff. It’s awesome to see yourself in someone and at the same time really look up to them.
What can B&P students expect from your silks class?
Despite all the spiciness, chaos and liquid sex I’m known for as a performer, I REALLY do actually root everything in great technique and efficiency. This class will be a combination of both. Also as a director, I have a really good eye for spotting strengths in a very wide variety of movers, identifying them and really leaning into what works best for individuals. Also, expect more than a few Nine Inch Nails bangers.
What are some things you’re working on this year?
City Of Gods! It’s one of the best halloween parties in the world. Also producing and running Dirty Circus every single weekend from now until forever and ever into eternity — at the end of the day, my one true love is producing variety theater.