This is a ball– Clown Game

I was at a conference the other day and somebody did an exercise that reminded me of this clown game, which is one of my favorite ones to teach.  It teaches rhythm, and focus, and split focus, and being a giver and a taker all at once– in short, everything a clown needs to do his job.

I think I learned this at Dell’arte, maybe from Joan Schirle.  The commentary and explanation are mine, but the game is not.  If someone else knows the provenance of the game, please elucidate it in the comments:



To start teaching the game:   Everyone is in a circle.  Leader pulls out a tennis ball.  Sets up a rhythmic game to pass the ball to the person on the right.

GIVER:  This is a ball
TAKER: A what?
GIVER:  A ball.
TAKER:  A what?
GIVER:  A ball.
TAKER:  Oh, A Ball!  (takes the ball, and then turns to person on his right)


You pass it around, Leader focusing on students keeping the rhythm


After a few passes, pull out another ball.  Put it at polar opposite of the room, so they are passing it around in rhythm.  Should not be slower or faster.  Same rhythm.

After they basically have it, you can add a different object. Keys.  Phone. Scissors. Pen. Pencil.  Anything that can be handed off from one person to another.

Then the Leader focuses on standardizing movements.

  • HAND MOVEMENTS You give the ball with your right hand, you take the ball with your left hand.
  • HEAD FOCUS Once they have that (it will take time) add head focus.  You are going to be a giver and a taker at the same time.  So you Say this is a ball to your right, but A what?  To your left.
  • DON’T STOP THE RHYTHM On the third one you take the ball with your left hand, move it to your right, and don’t break the rhythm.

Now you can add enough objects so that everyone is doing it at once.  As the Leader receives an object for the second time, he/she puts it away, so that the last time there is just one item being given.

If they’ve got it, try speeding up the rhythm.  Or doing it as a round, so that people are off rhythm.  Or add another piece of rhythm to it.


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