Last week I completed the Clown through Mask workshop with Sue Morrison, and in the process, I’ve fallen in love. I’ve always felt the deep connections made possible through movement in my own private practice, but now I’m in love with sharing love–exposing my own vulnerability– with an audience.
This new love is a huge leap for me. The stage has always frightened me, literally choking me into terror-filled silence. And though the thought of sharing my bare naked soul on a stage in front of strangers still makes me wheeze, I’m thrilled by the possibilities clowning opens for profound human connection. As a newborn baby clown I’m now able to take a glimpse of what it is to share a deep dialogue with others through performance.
During the course of our five-week workshop Sue tough-lovingly guided me (and 13 other baby clowns) in creating six masks representing the six directions. Through a process developed by Sue’s teacher, the late Richard Pochinko, we explored two sides of each of the six masks: one of experience and the other innocence. The work included movement, color, games, paint, and imaging. Each mask revealed its own mythology and personality, its own neuroses, its own wisdom. With each mask I learned to release secrets I didn’t even know I was keeping.
Through work with the masks I’m learning to claim space. I’m learning that a mask does not hide. A mask reveals. I’m learning in performance to create a story in conversation with others. I’m learning to stand strong with a wide open heart. I’m growing impatient with old habits and anything that keeps my actions small, superficial, artificial or pretentious. I’m learning how powerful naked vulnerability can be.
I’m learning to share my love.
I hope to work with the wisdom of clown in my dance practice. I am calling on the masks to inform my movement, and to dance with me. I’m also very curious about the connection and overlap of butoh and clown. How might I dance as a clown? How might I clown in dance? What might the masks reveal if allowed to come through in the dance? Who else is working with clown in butoh and butoh in clown? There’s much love to explore.
I feel deep appreciation to my teachers Sue Morrison and Maureen Freehill and all the dancers and clowns in my life. And thanks to Dexter who shot the video. My heart is open and full of love.