The Art of Clowning

Terrace home to unique Clown Academy.

Some enjoy spending their summers gardening. Others enjoy long walks, fishing or maybe a ride in a boat. There is a select group of people in every community that would rather just spend their summer clowning around. The Terrace Mill Foundation, a non-profit organization, is offering its third annual Clown Academy in June with Professor Friendly. And Friendly the clown (aka Robert Jensen of Princeton) is excited to meet his new crop of students. “He has a huge following performing at birthday parties, banquets, conventions and at charitable functions,” said Richard Grella, President of the Terrace Mill Foundation.  It was his idea to create a Clown Academy, “I wanted to do something that included seniors and kids.  In the first class,  I was the oldest at  73 and the youngest was six years old.” The Terrace Mill is the host of the annual Fiddler’s Contest each fall and although it has a mix of different generations it is not as interactive as the Clown Academy. “The Clown Academy brings young and old together in one fun loving group. No matter what your age, we are all kids at heart”, said Mary Eddy of Alexandria whose family has participated in the Academy each year. “Where else can you learn to be a clown and have fun doing it?” Eddy remembers the first day she brought her three grandchildren to the Academy. “I didn’t know how they would react after their first class. On our way home I couldn’t get a word in edge wise. The kids were so excited talking about their classes and how much they laughed.” Their reaction was so positive that Eddy’s daughter enrolled with her children the next year. Eddy has watched people transform. “I have seen shy people come out of their every day character once their clown face is painted on and they become a whole different person. They become humorous and fun-loving and you can see the stress lift as they take on a whole new persona.” The clown curriculum includes, in part, the clown code of ethics, major clown characters, makeup, costume, mime, props, rat falls and balloon art. The children and adults tend to have different favorite “classes” at the Clown Academy. The children are not shy and put on their makeup with confidence and they are anxious to rehearse, select their names and costumes. The adults, on the other hand, take the makeup classes quite seriously and try to get it just right and they are not as comfortable at mime exercises as the kids. Once everyone is in makeup and costume, there is nothing difficult about being a clown. “It wasn’t easy to put on the makeup, but it was fun and looked cool when you put on your hat and nose.” said Blair Andersen of Terrace At the graduation ceremony, the class performs skits on stage for their families and community residents. “My husband and son-in-law joined me to watch the graduation performance and we couldn’t believe our eyes or ears. My daughter was a whole new, exciting, outgoing comedian. We laughed so hard,” said Mary Eddy “One important element in clowning is that clowns can make mistakes that can be funny as it takes the pressure off trying to be perfect,” said Grella. This year’s Clown Academy will be conducted on June 26 through June 29 from 3-7 p.m. each day. The four-day workshop is open to all ages from 8 to 80. Enrollment fee is $35 which includes a makeup kit and nose. To date, the Academy has been sponsored by private individuals. This year’s sponsor is Bea Steinman of Palm Desert, California. Last year’s sponsors were from Kentucky and Illinois. “We would like to attract local business sponsors for this unique activity”, said Grella. “It is the only one of its kind in West Central Minnesota.” For more information, contact Richard at rpgrella@aol.com. Terrace is located in a valley by the Chippewa River about 12 miles south of Glenwood.

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