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Top Clown Schools in the U.S.

This blog is a resource for those who dream about clowning. We’ve listed some of the top clown schools in the U.S. If you’ve been considering seeking formal training we hope that these schools might inspire you. We receive many inquiries from talented, aspiring volunteers who don’t have a background in circus or clown, but are eager to get involved. It’s wonderful to hear from so many passionate people interested in learning more about the art of clown. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and we’re not experts about all of the wonderful physical theatre schools in the U.S. If you attended or know of a first-class program that you’d like us to share, leave us a comment on this blog.


Dell’Arte International

DellArteInternational logo. Clown schoolLocated in rural Blue Lake, California is Dell’Arte International, a school for theatre training, research, and performance of the actor-creator. Its School of Physical Theater teaches actors to develop their use of physical spaces, gestures, and movements and approach stage performance as poetic expression. Students are guided by instruction while continuously exploring and producing creative works. Physical theatre education is the core of Dell’Arte academic programming. It offers a professional training program, Master of Fine Arts advanced ensemble program, a summer intensive, and a study abroad to Bali.

Dell’Arte was founded in 1971 by Carlo Mazzone-Clementi and Jane Hill who wanted to share the European traditions of physical theater training with North American artists and performers. The school is an internationally recognized institution. It is replete with studios, gymnastics/acro classrooms, mask construction area, costume shop, theatre, amphitheater, sound and video systems, as well as outdoor wilderness space along the Northern Coast of California.

Tuition and scholarship opportunities are on their website. Many Dell’Arte graduates populate the Clowns Without Borders volunteer roster, and we are proud to work with all of them.

How to choose a clown school? CWB performer Hannah Gaff shares why she chose Dell’Arte in this interview.

Center for Movement Theatre with Dody Disanto

CenterforMovementTheatrewithDodyDisanto logo. Clown SchoolSituated in Washington D.C. is The Center for Movement Theatre taught by Dody Disanto. The Center is a gorgeous and large building that is a work space for practitioners, teachers, and trainers who are independent consultants operating from the facility. Dody Disanto teaches Movement Theatre classes. The classes offered are well balanced among 6-day summer intensives, clown weekends, and 12-session comprehensives.

The Center is complete with gym, natural light-filled studio, and treatment rooms. Dody Disanto instructs students in her physical approach to acting based on the work of the late Jacques Lecoq. Ms. Disanto was a protege of Jacques Lecoq and trained under him in Paris. At the core of this style of theatre is the use of Neutral Masks.

To best understand Neutral Mask work, we recommend you sign up for a course. However, for the sake of this blog we offer a cursory explanation. The stage is a space for actors to move within. Physical theatre training compels a student to learn the space – how use it and her body gestures to communicate with maximum clarity and intention for the audience. There is no “right” way to move, according to Lecoq. Rather, the student creatively expands her expressions and dynamic actions, progressively evolving her skills.

Students wear the Neutral Mask during training. As soon as a pupil dons the mask, they must be at the “ready” in the words of Dody Disanto. Ready to play, create, and broaden the physical senses. Jacques Lecoq’s Neutral Masks gradually become smaller in size, the more refined one’s theatre skills become. Eventually, the actor wears only a clown nose. Check out The Center for Movement Theatre’s website for more details.


Celebration Barn Theater

CelebrationBarn logo. Clown SchoolThe immersive theater is the playhouse style of The Celebration Barn located in rural Maine. Here students arrive to create original works and set inside a beautifully restored horse barn. Come here and come prepared to play! Participants receive quality instruction from talented teachers and exposure to other exceptional actors. Workshops and residencies focus on collaboration and pushing the artist’s creative exploration to the edge.

The nature of the workshops vary. Polish your performance at a retreat with Robert Post; try something new with Intro to Eccentric Performing; dive deep into Buffon and the Ecstasy of Mocking; trigger your imagination with Spymonkey’s Creating Clown Material. The Celebration Barn also hold shows on its grounds and features a traveling comedy play.

Is the setting important to theater training? If you are inclined to say, ‘yes’ to that question, you may want to investigate the Celebration Barn. It’s located not too far from several primary east coast cities and sits in idyllic western Maine.


Pig Iron

PigIron logo. Clown School“Founded in 1995 as an interdisciplinary ensemble, Pig Iron Theatre Company is dedicated to the creation of new and exuberant performance works that defy easy categorization.” The previous sentence, borrowed straight from the Pig Iron website, is the perfect summation of who they are and what they do. Pig Iron is an award-winning Philadelphia-based theatre company which is best known for its experimental theater. The company has been touring with their unconventional in-house productions since 2004.

Pig Iron education focuses on performance acting with full-impact creativity. Their programs consist of a three-week summer session, workshops, and residencies, as well as leadership programs catering to the business professional. Where exactly does the clown fit into all of this? The June summer intensive is where students explore play and how to initiate an immediate connection with the audience, with the red clown nose to guide them.

The fall of 2015 marked the beginning of Pig Iron’s new MFA and Certificate programs in Devised Performance, offered in partnership with the University of the Arts, Ira Brind School of Theater Arts. Learn more about how this partnership creates new theatrical innovations while perusing the unique photography displayed at the Pig Iron website.


Circus Center

CircusCenter logo. Clown SchoolThe physical aspect of clowning sometimes relies on technical skills, such as those based in the circus arts. Circus Center is a renowned school offering courses in flying trapeze, aerials, acrobatics, stretching and conditioning, trampoline, and juggling. These are the Center’s primary programs. Find and read more about their extensive list of classes – level and age specific – by visiting Circus Center’s website.

The heritage of Circus Center is rooted in the Pickle Family Circus of San Francisco, whose work some have credited as a key factor in the renewal of the American circus. The Pickle Family Circus took a new approach to the circus. They moved the ring outdoors; the focus of their acts was positive in nature, with character-based clowns who created humorous moments by their supposed inability to complete the simplest actions. The rest of the story for you to discover, because this article is about clown schools in the U.S., not the history of the American circus.

For those seeking specialized clown cultivation, Circus Center also runs a 24-week Clown Conservatory.

Think another program should be on the ‘top clown schools’ list? Leave a comment and let us know!

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45 thoughts on “Top Clown Schools in the U.S.

    1. Thank you, Rex! There will be another round of clown schools that will be added to this blog in the near future. Thank you for bringing this school to our attention. We’ll be sure to add it!

  1. We request that you consider Clown Camp for your Top Clown Schools list. The program was founded in 1981 and has trained over 6000 people from around the world. The program will be presented at Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI June 11-16, 2017. Former Circus Center/Clown Conservatory Director, Joe Dieffenbacher is on our 2017 staff.

        1. Hi Tonda! Your best bet is to call the admissions offices of clown schools you’re interested in, and ask them about their admissions requirements. Each school will have different requirements for incoming students.

  2. You’ve left out Moosecamp, NY Goofs, and American Clown Academy….. There are so few clown educational programs that exist in the first place that you need to included ALL of them.

      1. Hi Kevin, you can email or call schools and ask for more information on their training programs.

  3. 904-208-8286
    would love to know more, as i am a clown and am trying to get my boyfriend to be one too.

  4. Considering career in clowning, this website definitely helped me in my search for a quality clown school. Thank you, Peace 2018

  5. Thank you so much for helping me discover my calling. Before stumbling upon this great website, I was lost, but now I know that this is my future. I’ve started reaching out to all the clowning schools, and cannot wait for their reply. This website has taken my clowning dreams to the next level. I feel so professional! Wishing y’all happiness and joy in clowning endeavors.
    Toodles the Clown

  6. I am co-president of a Rockaway NJ Women’s Club and my Program Committee is thinking to invite a clown in 2020 to speak on his/her training/experiences/how face designs are derived at/and how do you ever walk in those shoes!? (Actually, some years ago I performed w/my daughter around Mass. & NY but only special people know that fact.) Our presenters normally talk about 45 minutes. We have a budget to cover performers’ charges. Thank you for any help yo can offer me. Many of our programs are in the evening but members are beginning to ask for afternoon meetings; during a summer month, we could include grandkids in our audience.

  7. I’m retired and looking for something meaningful to do with some of my spare time. Do you know of any clown schools near me in the Jacksonville, FL area? I was thinking of maybe clowning for kids in hospitals near me. Learned to juggle in high school and I have big feet so i have that going for me.

    1. Hi Don,

      It looks like Gator Clowns is located in Jacksonville, FL. A quick Google search will give you more information.

  8. Do you know if there are any schools or classes you can take for 1 week? I wanted to gift my Sister . She has always wanted to take a class
    Thank You

    1. Hi Diane, your best bet is to search online for local clowning, circus, or physical theater classes in your area.

    2. Wow. I’m speechless. The incredible, raw nature of this page lured me in to my true calling. Before, I never knew what I wanted to be, where I wanted to go, or how I would get there. This page changed my life for the better. I have dropped everything now for my calling. My newfound PASSION in clowning. I am so thankful for all of the incredible people in this community who have helped me along the way! Happy clowning y’all!

  9. Hey Tamara, thanks for these recommendations of clown schools. Theatre acting always brings the hidden artist inside you. Education is important for each individual but not on the cost of passion. Passion always leads to satisfaction from within. So, in my opinion age is just a number and if you have the passion then you must join a clown school to know your another side of positivity.

  10. At Shanti Asiatic School Jaipur, we believe that the Guru – the Teacher is the mentor for a child. Thus, it becomes imperative for us to provide the best of faculty from across the nation to nurture our children. We are in the top 10 Schools in Jaipur.

  11. I am trying to get some information on the Bont’s International Clownschool located in Menorca, Spain.
    Do you know where I can find anything abou it?
    Thank you

  12. Y’all have inspired me to pursue a clown career. My parents want me to be a doctor but I told them “mummy, daddiums. I can’t do what you want I must be my own man and pursue clowning.” They can’t control me and I will be a clown. Thank you all for being my true inspiration.

  13. Yo. Clowning is my calling. I’ve recently discovered how cracked I am at juggling – seriouslu, I’m not clowning around. I might send some videos of me juggling soon, but I can’t right now. My friends were making fun clown college, and found a site. They don’t support the lifestyle, but I don’t blame because I’ve yet to come out of the jester-closet. I’m glad to get this off my chest, I can’t wait to see my new goofy peers at Mooseburger Clown School!! ❤

  14. Looking for a school in clowning in Michigan or close by. I am a MBA candidate with dual honors majors.

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