Dancing on the Edge Festival - July 7 & 9, 2015

Karen Jamieson (Karen Jamieson Dance, Vancouver) and Nathaniel Justiniano (Naked Empire Bouffon, San Francisco) form an unlikely duo in Trickster, a biting and funny dissection of dance and dance-making.

A seasoned choreographer who believes in the profundity of human movement is being taunted.
A relentless bouffon is dismantling her serious practice with gleeful mockery. A provocative, yet playful invitation to see what would happen if we didn’t take ourselves so seriously.

Paired as part of Brief Encounters 2013 a critically acclaimed bouffon clown and a respected senior contemporary dancer had two weeks to create something. A 12 minute version of Trickster was performed to audience and critic’s delight. Seeing potential, they further developed the work for Dancing on the Edge 2015.


Created and Performed by: Karen Jamieson & Nathaniel Justiniano
Live Viola By: Stefan Smulovitz

Karen’s Costume: Tutu designed by Susan Berganzi, assembled by Karen
Nathaniel’s Costume: Created and assembled by Nathaniel
Stefan’s Costume: Designed by Susan Berganzi


Trickster Image: Still from video taken by Flick Harrison
KJD General Manager, Production Management, Graphic Design: Pamela Tagle

Thank you: Brief Encounters Volume 20, Vancouver Fringe Festival, Kristina Lemieux, Flick Harrison, KJD Board of Directors, Mardie & John Mason,

Trickster is a co-creation of: Karen Jamieson Dance - & Naked Empire Bouffon -

Funded by: Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver

Artist Statements

Karen Jamieson: The central premise of the work is Nathaniel the Bouffon, mocking Karen the dancer who is engaged in an exposition of the “energy body”. It is a collision of perceptions that is reduced down to its essence.

Karen paired with a Bouffon, Nathaniel Justiniano of Naked Empire Bouffon Company from San Francisco for 2013’s Brief Encounters (part of “Pick of the Fringe”). Our creation juxtaposed my “energy body” practice and the practice of Bouffon clowning. The work was an audience hit and was also extremely exciting to both of us. We were thrown into new and uncomfortable territory, we expanded our understanding of our own and each other’s work and the decision was made to fully develop this work.

Paradox and Play – Mockery shocks, it’s a collision of perception that reduces the discussion down to essence, resulting in a kind of freedom. I believe this sense of freedom is rooted in the rock bottom depths where practices cross and energy is released. I experienced a great freedom in the deployment of the vocabulary of classical and contemporary dance, in a shifting of levels and most important, a new perspective and new development in the energy body practice I am studying. The whole area of dance as play is opened up in this collaboration. 

Nathaniel Justiniano: Bouffon is a broad performance realm rooted in satire and mockery usually characterized by grotesque costuming, outrageous physical comedy, audience interaction, tragic or poetic resonance, profound social relevance. The main dynamic of Bouffon is mockery. Creating content is a physically and intellectually rigorous process, one that involves improvising in the exhausting play state of the bouffon. When I enter the altered state of the bouffon, I allow it to dictate the content. 

Naked Empire Bouffon Company
Founded in 2009 in San Francisco, Naked Empire Bouffon Company is dedicated to researching, expanding, and popularizing bouffon practice through training and performance both locally and internationally.
WE BELIEVE denial is our muse.
WE CELEBRATE difficult truths with gratuitous abandon.
WE DISTILL the complexity of societal dysfunction into grotesque physical comedy.
WE ARE POETS who hate seriousness.
WE ARE PROPHETS who hate didacticism.
WE ARE PLEASURE SEEKERS who hate judgment.
WE INVITE you to join us and laugh your ass off while we fart all over your sensibilities.

Nathaniel Justiniano
Nathaniel is an award-winning actor/creator, teacher, founder of Naked Empire Bouffon Company in San Francisco. His satirical performances are outrageous comedies derived from today’s tragedies. Since 2007, he has co-created shows that skewered topics like war, ecstatic ritual, the San Francisco queer community, institutional violence, our fear of death, and the American Dream. He teaches bouffon workshops and is on the faculty of the Clown Conservatory of San Francisco. Currently, Naked Empire is developing a monthly late-night show featuring the Bay Area’s most subversive physical comedians, as well as a one-person bouffon show celebrating class privilege to tour in 2016.