What is a Mime

I recall one of the best moments from my college festival. I sat in silence as the mime show began on the stage. There were boys and girls with painted faces, who did not utter a sound. All they did was to act with gestures and their facial expressions. Through their thoroughly practiced moves and expressions, I could see how the entire story unraveled. This form of art and dance is popularly known as mime. It is a kind of form where the performers perform the acts of any play or story without sounds. Sure the music plays in the background. But the characters will not speak any dialogues or quote any lines from the texts. Mime is a challenging piece of art that requires exceptional skill and talent on the part of the performer.

The art form of mime had taken its origins back in the ancient times of Greece. The famous artist and theatrical performer Pantomimus was the pioneer of mime. His name also coined this art as pantomime. The movement really gathered strong momentum in Medieval Europe. The early forms like mummer plays and dumbshows had become popular means of entertainment in all of the medievalEurope.

The pantomime however really became a form of art when it was soon staged in the midst of the 19th Century. The distinct characteristics of the performers are the white painted faces and the eye makeup. These features came with the work of pantomime artist Jean Gaspard Deburau. It was him who first started the custom of wearing white paint and makeup while performing the mime and the acts of the play. This was a significant contribution and eventually made mime quite famous all over the world. Ever since then, mime has become an indelible art to be reckoned with great skill and talent.

The basic form of mime has inspired many contemporaries in other cultures and countries. The art of mime also has been associated with the more popular and well-known forms of music and dance in non-western cultures. For instance, inIndia, the Natya Shastra is a form of musical literature. Here, the ancient texts and literary works are recited by the dancers with the aid of practiced dance movements. The famous dance form Kathakali is loosely modeled on the use of expressions and gestures as in mime. The texts and fables are recited or narrated with the physical movements and facial expressions of the dancers.

But new history has found out that the European form of mime has also taken influences from Asian styles and artistic forms as well. The Noh is a kind of music and dance form which had originated in ancientJapan. It was soon found that many of the modern features of European pantomime have been inspired by this form of art. The mime borrows the style of masks and white makeup from Noh itself.



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