Combining the Life of a Dancer and a Circus Artist

Angela Buccinni moved to New York City after graduating with a B.F.A. in dance in 2006. Since living in New York, she describes her career as having “merged from dance to circus arts.” Angela has worked at Radio City and in many off-Broadway shows and tours. A few years ago, she founded The Muse Brooklyn and serves as the director. The Muse recently rebuilt and relocated, becoming New York City’s largest circus facility and training center.

Angela Buccinni specializes in partner work and duo acrobatics. She feels that circus work and partnering are often very connected with dance partnering. She says, “Circus work not only builds up physical communication skills but also educates trust in a new way.”

Angela currently works on producing fully orchestrated productions that merge circus dance and live music. In August, her circus school The Muse produced Symphonie Fantastique with a full orchestra and five aerial acrobats, and this month Angela is producing a full circus ballet of Petrushka. She says that these projects give her the opportunity to collaborate and fuse her Conservatory dance training and passion for the circus world, and these are the projects she lives for.  

Angela recognizes that many Boston Conservatory at Berklee students move to New York City after graduation and that the transition to the new city can be crazy and tough. She loves when fellow alumni find their way to The Muse and would be excited to bring more Boston Conservatory alumni into The Muse to further their movement skills. Classes range from aerial skills to flexibility. You can read more about class offerings and email the team to learn about the Boston Conservatory alumni discount.  

We caught up with Angela to learn more about her fascinating work. 

What current projects are you most excited about?

Right now, I am choreographing and directing a fully orchestrated circus ballet of Petrushka. It's so exciting for me to explore the world between circus and dance, and I love blending circus and dance to tell a story by creating an immersive and magical experience. Producing these shows and working with such a talented group of artists inspires me and pushes me. I love creating something from the ground up, with all the challenges it presents!

How do you stay creatively inspired?

I'm really fortunate to direct a studio where I am constantly surrounded by artists that inspire me. The studio is called The Muse, and the reason for the name is to generate inspirations within a community and to push each other to grow together.  

When traveling in Europe and training in acrobatics, I found that there was a real openness and genuine skill share in these acrobatic communities. People are not territorial about their process or ideas, and because of this openness, they all grow together, and their skill level is amazing. I have found, and perhaps this is circumstantial because New York is such a difficult place to survive and is so competitive, that openness can truly be lost at times. I started The Muse so there would be a safe space where openness of energy and ideas is embraced and encouraged—a place that feels like hanging out with friends in your living room. We are free to dream big together and push our limits forward.

When I am not at my circus home, I find the most inspiration in traveling and seeing other ways of life. I am inspired by seeing other artists approach their works. And I find inspiration in the simplest things—mostly human connection. I love observing how people move around, getting on subways, noticing how parents interact with their children, playing with and watching my dogs enjoy a new treat, seeing what makes a baby laugh, watching street performers, and seeing students learn something new. 

What are four words to describe your typical day?

Interesting. Never the same. Living in New York City and running a business always makes for unpredictable, fun, and fast-paced days.

What Boston Conservatory experience most influenced you career? 

Oh, so many. One thing I vividly recall was performing with Yo-Yo Ma when he came to do a master class. I was chosen to present a piece of my choreography, and he asked to play a section with me and my dancer. It literally felt like the music was pouring out of our bodies—it was so connected.  

I also feel that the Conservatory influenced my desire to maintain an intimate artistic community that is tightly knit. Having close corridors and artists of many modalities to collaborate with and interact with is a key for me.

Have your career interests changed since you enrolled at the Conservatory?

Indeed. I never imagined that I would run away with the circus. I was on the path to being a concert dancer, and I did fulfill this, but I truly feel I belong where I can bridge the gap between circus and dance. This space combines being grounded and taking flight.

You recently invited Conservatory alumni to visit The Muse for classes. What can alumni expect to experience at The Muse?

First and foremost, be ready to have fun!
It's never too late to play and learn. Be prepared to do things you never expected you would be able to do. I never imagined I would be capable of doing many of the things I am doing these days, specifically H2H acrobatics. You’ll learn the basics and work hard. You’ll see that there are building blocks to everything, and if you work safe and always play, you might realize that you had NO CLUE what you can do! Most people leave their first several classes with altered expectations of themselves. To me, this is the key, and it's the very first step to changing your mindset about what is possible!