Pantomime. by: Abigael Marcos. What is pantomime ?. pantomime is the art of using movement and facial expressions rather than primarily the spoken word to communicate. The word pantomime has been used to refer to both an individual as well as an actual production or performance.
by: Abigael Marcos
pantomime is the art of using movement and facial expressions rather than primarily the spoken word to communicate.
Most pantomime is presently seen presented within other forms of theatre rather than as an art to itself. Many clowns use elements of pantomime rather than presenting themselves strictly as a mime.
The Greek "pantomimus" which literally translates to "imitating all" was a highly regarded form of solo dancing often accompanied by music which encompassed both comedy and tragedy. It's popularity was also widespread amongst the Romans until the Christian church forbade it's public display.
Some contended that this Roman dance form managed to survive through the middle-ages but this is often disputed due to a lack of evidence. Different forms of theater have tended to justify their legitimacy by claiming to be based on such older traditions which might suggest a motive to such questionable claims.
Specific characters including Pagliaccio or Pedrolino (known as Pierrot in English) or Arlecchino (Harlequin) were the set stars of these productions.
By then a popular alternative to the royal ballet was a danced form of Comediadell'arte which was known as a pantomime. Throughout Europe dance companies performed these musically rich pantomimes which tended towards multiple set and costume changes.
In Paris, such pantomime shows were limited to the fairground theaters and were exclusively without spoken text due to fears of financial competition to the normal theater.
The popular pantomimes of the 19. Hundreds were still seen as an oppositional form of entertainment to the royal ballet and were limited to theatres where such ballets were not presented. The English pantomimes were based on these dancing pantomimes and closely related to the circus world.
The modern pantomime Jacques Lecoq started out as a gymnast and Jean-GaspardDeburau was an expert in the martial art of staff fighting. Deburau was really the creater of the modern stylish French mime. He developed the poetic, melancholy "Pierrot" figure and his performance in the film Children of Olympus (1945) from director Jean-Louis Barrault is an icon.
The starring role of many a melodrama through the ages, for example The Dog of Aubry (1814) was done in pantomime. These principles of silent expression were incorporated into the opera by Portici in "The Mute" (1828). And many of the circus programs of the 19. Hundreds gave prominent roles to multi-talented mimes.
The careers of Variety performers like Carl Godlewski showed that after 1900 the borders between pantomime, circus arcrobatics and dance were very fluid even at the highest levels. Modern pantomimes like ÉtienneDecroux (who was also to be seen in Children of the Olympia) showed influences not only of the Music halls and silent film techniques but also by attempts to reform the Ballet by François Delsarte, likewise by expressionist dance developments by Emil Jaques-Dalcroze and Rudolf von Laban.
These forms of experimental movement theatre were presented at the Monte Verità a Swiss commune of vegetarian pacifistic artists and by the end of W.W. I had established a genre distinctly different than Ballet or ball dancing. Silent film stars like Buster Keaton and Charly Chaplin were examples of mime skills being taken from the theater, used in a new media (film) which in return had great counter influence on the theater.
In the 1930's Decroux founded the first pantomime school in Paris based on the ideal of "pure mime" independent from dance and acrobatics. Some of his better known students were Jean-Louis Barrault who incorporated his mime skills into his acting and Marcel Marceau who perfected and popularized the stereotype of the solo mime performance.
The Austrian/Israeli pantomime and expert in body language SamyMolcho rejoined the modern pantomime skills once again with ballet as did the Swiss performer Dimitri with clowning, which itself had a new growth in the clown, fool and jester movement of the late 1970's and early 1980's. While Marceau mostly performed solo, LadislavFialka in Czechoslovakia, HenrykTomaszewski in Poland and Jean Soubeyran in Germany were instrumental in dancing or acting troups.
The ÉcoleInternationale de Théâtre from Jacques Lecoq in Paris and the ScuolaTeatroDimitri in Verscio, Switzerland are schools for the professional development of pantomime. Despite many efforts towards a "pure" pantomime the word today is very loosely used the skills are often incorporated into other forms of dance or performance art. The influence of pantomime can often be seen today in street performances or breakdancing
The "classical pantomime" as stereotyped by Decroux or Marceau seems at present to have lost much of it's popularity and many contemporary pantomimes struggle to find the opportunity to present their art in a pure form. Some might say that the idea of Marceau's L' Art du Silence has itself become nearly silenced.