Thursday, November 25, 2004

MotionFest, the Finale - Personal Report

My view of the MotionFest was coloured by taking two hours to get out of New York City, in a car with Martin Ewen and Robert Nelson, the Butterfly Man, after visiting Master Lee, on our way to Baltimore , with Robert expounding on the historic nature of the occasion.

We arrived in Baltimore at two in the morning, and I had time for 4 hours sleep, and a yoga practice, before diving into the the four days of morning and afternoon classes, with evening performance sessions.

Over 100 performers at all levels of their career's attended MotionFest in Baltimore earlier this month. Many said it was the best of the 7 festivals held to date, and even though it was billed as the last in the series, there were rumors of something, sometime, to follow on from this.

The public show on Saturday, which played to a sold out theatre, demonstrated the range and caliber of the teachers present. I kicked the event off with an experimental and slightly provocative number on the seven clown commandments, as decreed by the World Clown Association, which seemed to go down well.

And I was followed by a range of clown and physical theatre numbers from Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley, directors of the New York Goofs, a classic clown number from Steve Smith, a past Ringling Clown School Director, mime from Karen Hurll Montanaro, who performed one of the much loved numbers from her late husband Tony Montanaro and a couple of her own pieces, and this was complimented by an equally classic Commedia piece from Geoff Hoyle, and finished with some wonderful new clown numbers from festival organizer, Micheal Rosman.

The organisation of the event by Michael, Todd, and Phill was impeccable, and I was overwhelmed by the thanks and hugs from students after the classes. Kirk Marsh stole the show in the critic sessions with a new clown-dance piece which took a standing ovation, and Drew the Dramatic Fool took the award for having attended all seven MotionFests, and taught at two.

I presented my new Angels can Fly book to a couple of panels of clowns, including some of the best in the business, and received some valuable feedback, and some commitments to put anecdotes in the book. Some 15 clowns - including teachers from DellArte, San Francisco Clown Conservatorium, Ringling Clown school, and Fantastic Space in Vancouver, plus many well known clowns from Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand - are now putting anecdotes in the book, and it is still possible to put your story in this book on Modern Clown, simply e-mail me at:

The icing on the cake for me was the sauna on the ground floor of the hotel and conference centre, and I had one every day. I discovered on the last day, that Michael Rosman loves saunas, but in all the MotionFests that he has run at the BestWestern Hotel, he didn't even know there was a sauna in the place... Go figure.

Photos of Alan Clay by Cynthia Aviance,

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

MotionFest, Physicality and Performing Arts Festival

I am currently in America, to present a sneak preview of Angels can Fly at MotionFest, the Physicality and Performing Arts Festival in Baltimore. MotionFest is a gathering, celebration, exchange of ideas and opportunity for performers to further their knowledge within the manipulative, movement, and variety arts.

Below is a list of the instructors and lecturers teaching at MotionFest 2004. "MotionFest strives to bring together the most incredible collection of available teachers. These are working professionals of our industry."

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

I will be presenting the following workshops at MotionFest:

Exploring 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

Sneak 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

Remember, if you are interested in receiving a free eBook copy of Angels can Fly, go to and simply sign up with your email address.