Mime by painting

Public invited to create mime movement by viewing paintings at upcoming art showing at NB public library

David Braddock engaged in a mime movement, “On the Edge of a Dream,” from a number of years ago. Photo supplied
David Braddock engaged in a mime movement, “On the Edge of a Dream,” from a number of years ago.
Photo supplied

People intrigued by mime artistry and how it can be inspired by paintings might want to check out a local art showing set to open this weekend at the North Branch Public Library.

Guests and participants will discover the artwork that was completed through a We R Able painting class last spring, while local resident David Braddock, of the Rum River Stage Arts in Braham, will lead the mime portion of the event. The show begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.

Braddock, one of the founders of the Minnesota Mime Alliance, views mime as a form of storytelling or acting by physical movement. Throughout his 35 years of training, he studied with Marcel Marceau, an internationally acclaimed French actor and mime who was most famous for his stage depiction of Bip the Clown.

But his foundation in training, as many other students, goes back to one who has been called the father of modern French mime. He is Etienne Decroux, one of Marceau’s primary teachers.

Decroux’s style was called corporeal mime, Braddock explained, and it’s based on using the natural portrayals of characters or objects to make illusions of walking or pulling a rope or other gestures in accurate fashion. His style was in stark contrast from the white-face mime of the 19th century.

“It’s much like a concert pianist,” Braddock said. “You develop your own style; it’s very regimented, like the scales of your body. The human body has three main ways of communicating. One is intellectually, with your head. The second is spiritually, with your chest. The third is physically, from the waist down.”

When combined in movement, he added, you can “express virtually anything in the human experience.”

Even actors have studied mime to better their craft. And it’s no easy task.

“Jessica Lange was also a student of Decroux,” Braddock said. “She was the teacher of my first teacher. I was impressed to hear her say people think mime is a simple thing. It’s so involved, hardy simplistic. And it’s good for acting.”

People can see for themselves this weekend at the North Branch library, where Braddock will help participants interpret and express how a painting or two makes them feel through a movement all their own. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes.

“At first, I’ll try to feel from within my center, my core,” said Braddock of starting a mime action. “I’ll see how that feeling shapes my body.”

For example, he continued, “if you’re looking at a painting of a butterfly perched on a branch, imagine yourself as a child observing the butterfly going from one flower to the next. Visualize the movement or think of the world through the butterfly’s perspective and base your movement from that feeling.”

He added, “Each participant will go through a window or open the doorway of what the artist was feeling at the moment.”

The art show will move to the St. Croix River Education District building in downtown Rush City in time for the Santa Lucia and Arts Rx events Dec. 13. For more information, call 320-358-1220.




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