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Physicality and Performing Arts Festival

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Past MotionFest Festival Workshops:

Workshops are divided into two types, Intensive and Lecture.

Intensive workshops will be 3 hours long and will be repeated each day. Each day the attendees should choose a different one to attend. Class size will be limited to allow for small ratio of teacher to students.

Afternoon Lecture classes will be open enrollment with no limit on class size. Students can choose while onsite which to attend. They will be 1 hour in length and will be presented each day so that students can attend a variety of them as they wish. Lectures will be less in-depth versions of the morning intensives unless otherwise noted.

There will also be skills workshops covering various techniques, as interest is shown. These will be offered during the same time as other lecture workshops.

Please note! Intensive instructors will also be teaching lecture workshops during the afternoon sessions. Each student will be able to participate in one intensive workshop per day.

Workshop Listings are subject to (expected to) change... Keep checking in...

Intensive Workshop Instructors
bullet Karl Baumann  - Star Cirque du Soleil character acrobat
bulletTom Casciero - Movement Artist
bulletAlan Clay - Author, Performer, Director, Physical Comedy and Actor Instructor from New Zealand
bullet Bob Fitch - Broadway Actor/Magician. Consultant to numerous stars
bullet Nikolaus Holz -
bulletGeoff Hoyle - Broadway, Cirque du Soleil, Pickle Family Circus, he's done everything! including teaching at Dell 'Arte School of Physical Theatre
bulletDominique Jando - Director of S.F. School of the Circus Arts, Founded numerous Circus Schools and competitions in France.
bulletThe Jokesters - Performers and professors of makeup application
bullet Dick Monday - Former RBBB Circus Clown College Director, Founder of NYGoofs, hilarious!
bullet Karen Hurll Montanaro - Mime and movement specialists
bulletRobert Nelson -aka The Butterfly Man, street performer emeritus
bulletMichael Rock - Second City Theatre staff improv instructor
bullet Steve Smith - 10 yr director of Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Clown College
bullet Joanie Spina - Performer/Dancer and Choreographer for Magicians including David Copperfield

Intensive Workshops


The natural way we move, walk and talk are unique to each individual. Idiosyncrasies can be an asset. Even

Exaggerating a supposed weakness can enrich our performance. We will focus on developing these individual aspects, enhancing them to create a strong presence, character and act. “Composing” is the next step, after discovering our individual way of moving. Every action needs to be visibly clear, so the audience can read you on stage. This precision is very important and can be linked to creating an animation cartoon, frame by frame. The goal is to intrigue the audience with everything we do on stage. This includes simple walks, looks, or even standing still.

The class utilizes improvisation, reflection, and organization to help built a superior mind- body awareness, which is absolutely essential to succeed in the performing arts.  Instructor: Karl Baumann


bullet Setting The Stage For Comedy
Likability, simplicity, spontanaeity, believability, vulnerability,hyper-awareness, urgency, high stakes, and a surprise.  Instructor: Dick Monday
bulletPhysical Eloquence
The human body is designed to move organically, honestly, and articulately and nothing is more compelling on stage than organic, honest, and articulate movements.  This workshop explores and exploits each individual's unique way of moving.  Simple mime, movement and dance techniques enhance the body's natural expressiveness and ignite the joy-of-moving.  Students will also learn many excercises and techniques developed by Tony Montanaro during his long and illustrious career as a master of mime and improvisation.  Let yourselves be moved.  Instructor: Karen Hurll-Montanaro
bullet Physical Comedy - hilarity with heart
This workshop will focus on clarity of movement; economy of movement; and the pure joy of performing. Each day, the group dynamic will help define the end result, but basically this 3hour block of time will be structured to help remind participants of the initial reasons that they chose to become variety artists in the first place. It will be a positive environment to renew the spirit; revisit the basics; and rejoice in the serious art of being silly. Suitable for Jugglers, Mimes, Magicians, Clowns, Actors, Dancers...or any human being in need of an affirmation that WHAT they do, and WHO they are in this strange business of show. Laughing matters...and so do you. {We will begin with a warm-up, and be very physical - so please wear clothing that allows you to move. A sense of humor and a good attitude are required.  Instructor: Steve Smith

bulletExploring Modern Clown
Modern clown is irreverent, it is informed by the inter-activity of the street, and it is vulnerable, rather than hidden by character, make up, or costume. Clown is an art form which has existed for thousands of years, and undergone a revolution in recent times, as it made the leap back from circus into theatre, giving birth to 'new clown' and physical theatre. This workshop takes a broad view of clown, which allows participants room to develop their own unique style. The workshop starts with a yoga warm up, followed by exercises to develop physical and emotional expression, and improvisational exercises to develop comic timing and audience rapport.  Instructor: Alan Clay


1. Introduction to Theatrical Improvisation
Learn the basic skills of Improvisational Comedy from a core faculty member of Chicago's famed Second City. We will explore some basic techniques for creating spontaneous theatre in a fun, supportive and playful atmosphere. Improvisational training is crucial for helping performers be supportive, reactive, creative and "in the moment". It is a powerful tool for the development of new material and for being able to deal with any performance situation.

2. Physical and Verbal Improvisation
Practice techniques to combine the physical and verbal in an improvisational context. Learn some of the basics of improvisational comedy and how to combine physical and verbal improvisation for characters, scenes and for the development of new material.  Improvisational training is crucial for helping performers be supportive, reactive, creative and "in the moment". Taught by a core faculty member of Chicago's famed Second City.

3. Improvisation To Develop New Material
Learn how to use comedy improvisation as a tool to develop new material. We will start with the basics of theatrical improvisation and then use it to generate ideas for characters, scenarios and new ways to look at old skills. Taught by a core faculty member of Chicago's famed Second City where they have been using improvisation to create award-winning sketch comedy revues for over 40 years
.  Instructor: Michael Rock

Crafting physical character onstage - the art of mask, mime, and clowning.

A three-hour session on character comedy, elementary mask work and the language of physical performance.

The workshop may include building characters with commedia –style half masks, improvisations using commedia scenarios and comic “lazzi” or business as well as duo and trio “routining” based on classic European clown combinations. The focus is on creating credible behavior in desperate situations. Please wear comfortable clothing and lightweight shoes.  Instructor: Geoff Hoyle


bulletUsing Music to Enhance Your Routine  Simple stage movements can be made stronger, when you perform them with music. Audiences no longer see a performer reaching for a prop, they see a story, however simple, unfolding. We will explore how the music can help define your routine, enhancing your act to support and sell your presentation. We will also practice some basic movement skills.  Instructor: Joanie Spina

bulletImpulse Improvisation - Movement Based Improvisation

What is Impulse Improv?
It is a physical improvisation workshop where we find and follow our deep physical impulses to move. By listening and responding moment to moment to our own impulses and those of other actors, we clear blocks and become fully alive and creative in each moment.

What happens?
Sometimes clowns are born, sometimes a dream comes true, sometimes whole new pieces slip out of our unconscious while we aren't looking. We'll do solo and duet improv and apply the improv process to creating clown and original  movement theatre work, ensemble work and scripted work too.  Instructor: Tom Casciero

bulletClassical European Clown Entrees
Clown “entrées” are a repertoire of short comic scenes, with a beginning, a middle and an end, which for more than a century have constituted the common material of classical European clowns. Although the situations -- and their development, are always the same -- their interpretation can differ significantly according to the very own personality of the clowns and augustes who play it. Some of these entrées have been used in the US by vaudevillians and burlesque comedians, and subsequently by movie comedians (or more accurately, clowns) of the Silent Era and of early television. Work on these entrées are an excellent way to learn how to improvise within the boundaries of a set story (and thus acquire discipline), and an excellent tool for character development — or discovery, since the clown doesn’t play a character: he/she is his/her true inner, uninhibited self. It is also a good basic comic repertoire to acquire.  Instructor: Dominique Jando 

Lecture Workshop Instructors

bullet Tom Casciero
bullet Alan Clay
bullet The Jokesters
bulletRobert Nelson
bulletRobert Strong

Lecture Workshops - (More Will be added)


bullet Getting Your Act Together (May be postponed) One of the many highlights at MotionFest is the evening critique session. Attendees perform in front of their peers, and receive constructive feedback.

We wanted to expand this format, and make it even more effective. Robert Nelson was kind enough to offer his expertise.

Friday and Sunday afternoon Mr. Nelson, acting as a turbo director, will work with three acts (total of six acts). Note: During these sessions participants should be prepared to perform their acts, and receive instant directorial feedback. This is NOT a writing session.

Acts need to sign up in advance. In fact, Mr. Nelson has requested that you send him an UNEDITED video of your show (20 minutes max) along with a list of EVERYTHING you do (i.e., your skills). Send this, along with a phone number where you can be reached easily. All materials must be received two weeks
prior to Motionfest, so he has time to review them.

Please contact Robert Nelson directly to make arrangements for sending your tape. The phone number is:
(three-one-zero) eight-two-seven three-six-nine-two. Instructor: Robert Nelson


bulletSneak Preview: Angels can Fly, A Modern Clown User Guide
This workshop will provide a sneak preview into Alan Clay's latest book on clown, Angels can Fly, which will be published in May 2005. Clown is not an easy topic to learn from a book, or from a lecture, because it requires hands on experience. Alan is overcoming this limitation through a mix of theory on the art form, plus a fictional tale following the experiences of ten clown characters, and some anecdotes from personal experience. Like any good user guide, it also includes 50 practical clown exercises, some of which will be explored in this lecture workshop.  Instructor: Alan Clay


bulletVoice Workshop for Performers - Whether working from the stage or from the street corner, you as a performer need a strong, clear voice. You require a healthy voice that won't fade or tire through a full show or a full day. So much of your success often depends on making a connection to your audience through verbal communication – intros, jokes, patter and general sharing.

This workshop is designed to introduce you to basic vocal principles and practices. It should help you become aware of your voice, strengthen your voice, care for your voice, and generally work more effectively on a day-to-day basis.
Instructor: Tom Casciero


bullet Beginner's Makeup for Mimes and Clowns - Let the Jokesters teach you how to do white face the professional way. Learn how to apply grease paint without looking like a 'greaser' and learn how to powder like the pros. This a makeup you can wear all day with out melting in 105-degree heat and you can even go swimming in! If you've never done makeup before this is a must do. Instructor: The Jokesters

bullet Makeup for Performers - Do you go on stage without any makeup? Your audience could be missing half your act with your face being washed out by a theatre's intense lighting. This class will teach you how to do basic 'Straight' makeup techniques that will let your face shine! Learn how to accentuate your features so that the audience member in the last row can see your every expression. A class every professional who works small to large size theatres should attend.-- Instructor: The Jokesters

bullet Financial/Legal Aspects of Performing
bulletHow to write and read contracts
bulletLiability insurance
bulletRunning your show as a business
bulletTaxes and licenses (domestic and international)
bullet Promotion
bulletHow to produce a good promo tape, brochure, ads in a trade journal
bulletWorking with agents, negotiating, etc. Instructor: Robert Strong

bullet Act Development taking the idea and turning it into something performable

bullet Mind and Body Preparation
bulletStage fright...How to deal with anxiety
bulletHow to train, warm up, prevent injuries

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MotionFest is proudly presented by: The Laughter Arts Foundation