The Legacy of Tony Montanaro
Complete Course on DVD
Volume One: Illusions and Exercises (two hours)
Mime (Well) Spoken Here. – Review by Bari Rolf, Oakland, California:
Tony Montanaro’s reason for making this videotape, as stated in his introduction is a highly valid one: instead of a written text describing physical exercises, his ‘book’ consists of visual demonstrations. A welcome technique, the validity to which anyone who has tried to construct dance or movement from written description can testify.
The exercises covered are the illusions of Tug-of-War; Wall; Rope Climb; Faces; Walk in Place; Walk Against the Wind; Monkey; String Puppet; Robot; Stairs; Ladder; Cubes and Spheres; Wheel-barrow; Suitcases; Slip, Slide and Trip; and Slow Motion. In his detailed breakdowns of the dynamics and special qualities of these moves, he goes deeper than many other mime teachers. He illustrates subtle inaccuracies that interfere with total audience understanding.
Perhaps the most important feature of his teaching is his emphasis on believability, on justifying the illusion. He stresses that one should not only communicate the illusion but also the reason for performing the illusion. For those who want to learn these techniques, Volume I is a valuable guide. One looks forward to Volume II
Volume Two: Spontaneity and Invention (two hours)
Tony Montanaro’s second video offers two training techniques: Spontaneity and Invention.
The demonstrated spontaneity exercises are: Dead Body Roll, Crescent (or Croissant) and Reverse Crescent, Ooze, Elephantine, Simian, Ooooh, Pan, Clown, Walks, Turning and Sad Waltz. Invention exercises include: Improvisations on using a word to provoke a shape, Rounds to involve groups, and imagery for solo or groups.
In all these exercises, Tony stresses the importance of process, willingness to take risks, acceptance of incompleteness, and freedom from the need to reach an end product. The approach is refreshingly healthy.
The 12 performers who demonstrate the exercises by acting like a class are all excellent professionals, introduced at the end of the video. Four of them compose a company, Jest in Time, from Canada, and all the performers range from mimes, actors, jugglers, story-tellers, to comedians. The company offers a piece, “Handmade,” consisting of machine-like movements done mainly with their hands. It is utterly fresh, unusual, and charming.
Because of the emphasis on imagery along with physical instructions and on feelings evoked by gesture, these exercises are extremely valuable for training and warm ups for actors as well as mimes. Especially useful is their effectiveness in pointing up the two-way street between a feeling and its physical manifestation.
The fine performers, and Tony’s exceptional teaching and presence, make for great instruction. To paraphrase: great mimes move in many ways, their wonders to perform. And wonders they do perform. – Bari Rolf, Oakland, California