Benjamin Domask | Circus Arts

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Benjamin Domask | Circus Arts

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Benjamin Domask is a performing artist combining the skill and technique of juggling with the theory and philosophy of clown under the aesthetic of corporeal mime to create a unique blend of circus and theatre.

"We all have the ability to learn. I focus on each individual student’s strengths while identifying their areas of growth potential. I then utilize proper teaching methods acquired through studies in Circus, Theatre, Sports, Dance, and Psychology to best suit a student’s learning style. Sometimes all it takes is that little moment of understanding to create a big moment of growth.”

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With the use of his experience in Contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre, Benjamin strives to share a deeper understanding of these unique art forms.  In order to learn we need to take our previous assumptions of an art form and set them aside and approach the topics from a place of curiosity. Through historical, practical, and real-world applicable viewpoints, we can gain an appreciation and understanding.

But what specifically can one learn from Circus? In Juggling, students not only learn the classic skill of juggling three balls but they also learn a modern viewpoint of a juggler as an object manipulator: someone who connects and unlocks the potential within objects. By understanding Mime we understand our bodies. Not only the way we move, function, and express our thoughts non-verbally, but our deepest feelings which no words could express. By removing the stigma and stereotypical appearance of Clown through classic and modern Clown exercises, students explore the universal emotions humans share and explore the basic instinct of play we possess as life-long children. 

"As a group we will then utilize these practices to create meaningful characters and theatrical scenes. Corporeal Mime is a form of movement based upon human behavior as researched by Etienne Decroux, who is widely known as the Father of Modern Mime. Decroux likened the learning of Corporeal Mime to the Actor as one would liken Ballet to the Dancer: essential. Through Mime we learn to control our body and learn the universal body language to express our innermost soul. Students learn the ability to clearly communicate non-verbally."

“Hi Benjamin, I was one of the high school students at the thespian festival last year. You inspired and showed me the wonders and the great art of clowning. In fact, I just did my first formal clowning performance. I always thought that clowning was just a weird guy in a funny onesie and a crazy afro. But it’s so much more and you showed me that. This type of art I believe has been lost and I couldn’t thank you more for giving me this. Thank you Benjamin, you have no idea what you have done for people.
— Max: Student participant from the MN Thespian Conference

Benjamin has been involved in several theatre and performance art organizations including the Minnesota Thespian Conference, Circus Juventas, Superior School of Dance, and the International Clown Festival. He has studied Corporeal Mime with the apprentices of Etienne Decroux, who is regarded as the father of modern mime, at Theatre de l’Ange Fou in Spring Green, WI. Clowning with Audrey Crabtree (NY, NY); Juggling with Jay Gilligan (Sweden) and Sean Blue (Iceland); Play with Jon Ferguson (Minneapolis, MN); Dance with Sylvia Schourek-Frazier (Hancock, MI), and Mask with Robert Rosen (Minneapolis, MN). He has also performed in the Orlando and Kansas City Fringe Festival, where he was awarded ‘Best of Fringe’ in Kansas City.  

Learn more about Benjamin in his January 2017 Artist Spotlight interview.

Sample Programs: Customizable To Site’s Needs

Residencies

Current Residencies can be combined and customized to fit curriculum needs

My Friends From The Circus

Benjamin visits your class and shares stories, videos, and pictures all about his friends from the circus. Students learn to balance peacock feathers, juggle scarves, clown around, and tell stories through mime! Classes for Kindergarteners run 30-minutes while 1st-5th run 50 minutes.

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Circus Movement and Mindfulness

We explore the circus skills of balance and toss juggling with the help of peacock feathers and scarves. Participants will engage in balance through hand and arm movements to correspond with the hand eye-coordination while toss juggling involves anywhere from one to three scarves (seated participants included!) Juggling has been linked to increases in grey AND white matter of the brain!

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Juggling

Why do people juggle? How do they learn to juggle? Can I juggle? Find out with this weeklong opportunity to take part in the ancient tradition of Juggling! Historically, jugglers are initiated through hands on (and off… and on again) learning that has been passed down from generation to generation. We will continue this tradition and then explore the current state of the world of juggling through online video. Finally, we breakdown how we interact with the objects in our lives (phones, plates, shoes, everything!) The end of the week results in our new jugglers creating a juggling sequence that is relevant to them.

We will utilize balls, clubs, rings, scarves, and everyday objects the jugglers bring to class.

 

Mime

Movement is essential to life! Mime is a study of human life and behavior through the movement of the human body. More specifically said: body language. Whenever we wave goodbye, shake hands, or make a face, we are doing mime! Each mover in this residency will study the history, future, and application of Mime. They will engage in activities designed to expand their understanding of the art form and themselves! First, we discuss moments in life where we communicate without language. Then, we explore classical techniques developed by the French mimes of the 19th century and explore the famous mimes and their abilities to entertain as well as enlighten. We end the week by finishing our Mime scenes as individuals or as a group and share with the class.

We will utilize the human body extensively from the feet to the head and everything in-between. If need be, we will explore props to enhance our ability to communicate.

 

Clowning

The only cliché idea we will explore is the red nose! A clown is not a costume or face paint as we will learn in this highly playful and ridiculous week. We will engage in moments of intense play followed by introspection and emotional revelations. The week begins with a deconstruction of the stereotyped clown. We catapult into the games and exercises utilized by theatre professionals all around the world to unlock our inner ability to play. (The ability we all engaged in as children.) We move on to the construction of a clown scene and finish the week by presenting our newly crafted clown abilities with the class.

 We will utilize any means necessary to get a laugh, a smile, a gasp, a reaction. Our main goal will be to create a lasting impression of good feelings on our audience. New clowns will walk away feeling invulnerable!

 

Workshops

An Introduction to PLAY

Come learn how kids play in the circus, in the theatre, and all across the world! Participants will unleash their inner clown through playing games designed to make you laugh so hard, milk will come shooting out your nose! (Note: B.Y.O.M. [bring your own milk]) This workshop is good for anyone with energy to spare and for those that have always wanted to be silly and carefree but just haven’t had the chance.

Equipment/Space Needs - Mirrors would be great! *Do not bring your own milk.

 

Performances

Grasping for Air: The Art of Throwing, Falling, and Movement

Benjamin takes 45 minutes out of your day to redefine those terms we’ve all misunderstood for years: juggling, clowning, and mime. Audience members will be delighted by a unique display of objects and movement. Benjamin creates a sense of wonder, joy, and interaction that will inspire us to be more confident in our abilities as humans.

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Juggler’s Suitcase

Juggler is a clown. But! A sensible one. No crazy makeup. A classically inspired European outfit. And, most importantly, a suitcase. Juggler arrives to your stage ready to perform. Be it an auditorium, a gymnasium, a chapel, outdoors, or a brand-spanking-newly renovated theatre space. Balls will be juggled. Clubs will be tossed. Penny whistles will be played. Musical notes will be heard. Jokes might be told. Improvisation will happen. The audience will most definitely be engaged. Anything and everything can happen in this 30-minute extravaganza. If wanted, a question and answer session can immediately follow the performance.

 

Hodge Podge

A welcoming, pleasing array of colors to stimulate the senses upon which the audience is invited to engage with and explore until a catalyst launches us into a journey of mind, body, soul, and bubbles to help the audience become more attuned to the wonders of the world around us.

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