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Clowning Around in Bundeena
Wednesday, 28 March 2012

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Bundeena was treated to a clown workshop given by George Meier, a.k.a. Ding-Ding the clown or as his friends call him, Ding.

The comprehensive two day workshop covered an array of topics from the history of clowning to costumes and makeup, juggling, balloon sculpting and mime skills. It was a “hands on” class and those who attended got a chance to release their inner clown.

Wendi Levi, who has organized many different kinds of workshops, took great pleasure in bringing the clown class to Bundeena, saying “People have been asking for a clown workshop for a long time. When I met Ding I knew the time was right. The workshop was very professional - we learned a lot of useful and interesting things and had a fun time doing it!”

The response by the participants was overwhelmingly positive. “I wasn’t sure what to expect but the enjoyment grew as I realized how fascinating each new aspect was,” said Michelle. “Ding knew his stuff and could demonstrate it.”  “I loved it”, said another participant. ”I laughed a lot and learned a lot. I definitely recommend it to others.”  

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George is a new resident in Bundeena, having been here only a year but has quickly become a part of the community. Born and raised in N.Y., he is also a professional drummer and within months of arriving in Bundeena was asked to help the local drum group, which at the time, was just a few people preparing to perform at a T.E.A.R. dinner last year. The performance, after only a handful of rehearsals with people, most of whom had never touched a drum before, was extraordinary and the group asked him to stay on and lead a permanent group. They now have fifteen members and more have expressed interest in joining.

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 “I love teaching,” says George. “It doesn’t matter if it’s clowning or drumming, I just like to share what I know, which isn’t much” he humbly laughs. “There is nothing more fulfilling to me than seeing in someone’s, eye that pivotal moment when they “get it” whether it’s a drum rudiment or clown bit.”

After the T.E.A.R. dinner he was asked to play drums with many of the local musicians and has since kept very busy. He performs regularly with local talent and recently joined the community band and played with them at the Art of Living Festival.

“It was really great but a little scary to read an actual drum chart again”, he says, referring to reading music for the community band. “It’s been years since I did any reading and I wasn’t sure if I could remember how!” If the crowd’s reaction to the band’s set and the accolades they received are any indicator, he most certainly does remember.

He said he basically self taught in the art of clowning, though he did take a circus arts class through Ringling Bros. early in his clown career. “I auditioned for them (Ringling Bros.) but didn’t get into the clown school. They audition about twenty thousand a year and accept about fifteen or twenty people to clown college so you have to be extraordinary. Besides, I was thirty years old at the time and they’re really looking for young talent that they can shape and mould. At that point I had already developed my clown character (*) and was gigging regularly so I wasn’t too disappointed but it would be nice to have something like that on your resume.”

His resume is still impressive having performed with Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary), Dick Kniss (bass player for John Denver) and numerous other musicians, poets, and clowns that are not as well known. He has performed at venues such as Madison Square Garden and Westbury Music Fair in N.Y., the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, and Harmony Hall in Virginia, as either a clown or drummer or both, performing for children and adults.

“It feels so good to have my drum kit set up again and dust off my clown shoes, he says happily. “It’s been a few years since I played drums or did any clowning because everything was packed up. I wasn’t even sure that I was going to pursue either of them when I got here [Australia] but after being asked, I couldn’t say no.” He laughs and adds, “I guess it’s in my blood.”  


(*) Ding-Ding is a rapping clown with a leather jacket and red spiked hair. When pressed for more details he laughs again and says, “It’s not nearly as edgy as it sounds. It’s a very watered down version of a rap star with the emphasis on clown, though I still don’t know that Aussies will ”get it” so I haven’t done any actual performances yet.” The participants in the clown workshop obviously got it and they are looking forward to more.

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