NORWAY — Karen Montanaro, a world-renowned mimedancer, will kick off the Norway Arts Festival on Thursday, July 7.

This year’s festival focus figure is her late husband, Tony Montanaro, one of the great mime artists of the 20th century.

The Norway Arts Festival, presented by the Western Maine Art Group and Norway Downtown, will be held from July 7-9. Main Street will be closed to traffic so festival-goers can enjoy music, dance, mime, juggling, painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, fabric art, puppets, food, poetry and other offerings.

Montanaro will give a storytelling performance, followed by a short discussion about Tony’s influence on her work as a dancer and a performer. Also on the program is a showing of the film “Theater and Inspiration, a celebration of Tony’s life, his contributions to the world of theater and the joy he brought to audiences and his students.

Karen is a solo performer, an award-winning choreographer and the innovator of “mimedance,” the fusion of two classical art forms. She studied ballet at the Cantarella School of Dance, the Ram Island Dance Center and on scholarship with the Joffrey Ballet School. She danced professionally with the Ohio Ballet and the Darmstadt Opera Ballet in Germany. Upon moving back to the Unites States, she danced principal roles with the Portland Ballet Company.

For more than a decade, she toured and taught internationally with Montanaro. She currently tours the world with her one-woman show, “Tanzspiel.” She is a teaching artist and offers residencies in movement, mime and dance in public and private schools throughout the United States.

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Tony Montanaro earned a theater degree from Columbia University and began performing stock theater with actors such as Jason Robards and Jackie Cooper. After seeing Marcel Marceau’s historic 1956 performance at New York’s Phoenix Theatre, he flew to Paris to study under Marceau and Marceau’s teacher, Etienne Decroux.

Montanaro had a long career of rave-review performances in Europe and the United States. He designed and hosted the award-winning CBS-TV children’s show, “Pretendo.”

In 1972, he founded Celebration Barn in South Paris, which has become a world-famous theater/school of mime, improvisation, storytelling and other performing skills.

The free performance will run from 7 to 7:30 p.m. at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. For more information, visit www.norwayartsfestival.org.

Dancer Karen Montanaro


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