When Jeff left the Clown Conservatory in June, 2010, the faculty included world-class teachers of acrobatics, dance, mime, circus skills and, of course, clowning.


Patty Gallagher (Director in Residence/Physical Theater & Balinese Dance) holds a Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Wisconsin. She teaches in Theatre Arts at U.C. Santa Cruz. She performed clown and buffoon with Teatro del Cronopio (Ecuador) and trained in physical theatre with Grupo Malayerba. She has studied Javanese and Balinese dance for ten years. She has worked with Fool Time Circus, the S.F. Youth Circus and the New Pickle Circus, and The Weird Sisters ensemble.

Paoli Lacy (Acting Director) began her career as a performer, appearing in theatres and circus rings internationally including at the Minskoff and the St. James on Broadway. As a director, Ms. Lacy has developed original works with the Dell 'Arte Players Company, Miracle Theatre, Make-A-Circus, and Brava! in California. She has directed over two dozen world premiers, national or regional premiers, and known scripts by Gertrude Stein to Dario Fo and Samuel Beckett to Shakespeare. Her work has been seen internationally in Tokyo, London, Port-au-Prince, Florence, in fifteen U.S. states, and in her home-base, San Francisco. Ms Lacy has served on the faculty of the Dell 'Arte School, the University of Miami, Ohio University, and U.C. Santa Cruz. She is the "God-mother of Clown Therapy" and has received multiple Artist-in-Residence Grants for her work with the Gateway Homeless Shelter, the McAuley Institute for Behavioral Health, the Edgewood Center, and the Easter Seal Society of the Bay Area. Ms. Lacy has an MFA from the University of Washington, as well as a diploma from Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Clown College.

Joan Mankin (Physical Theater) has been a company member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the Pickle Family Circus, the Dell'Arte Players Company, and Make-A-Circus. In addition, she has performed with The American Conservatory Theater; the California and San Francisco Shakespeare Festivals, San Diego Rep, Marin Theater Company, Aurora Theater, Theaterworks, A Traveling Jewish Theater, San Jose Stage Company, and the Magic Theater. Joan's film credits include appearances in the upcoming Bee Season, Made in America and Desert Hearts. She has directed for Circus Center, the Magic Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Make-A-Circus, the Phoenix Theater, Theaterworks of Colorado Springs, the Bricks and Earth Circus of Calgary, Canada, and the San Francisco New Vaudeville Festival. Joan holds an MFA in theater and has taught at San Francisco State University, University of California at Santa Cruz, Antioch University in Ohio, the American Conservatory Theater, the Dell'Arte School of Physical Performance, and the High School of the Performing Arts in San Francisco.

Weng Xiao Hong (Acrobatics) was a member of the famed Nanjing Acrobatics Troupe in Nanjing, China, under the direction of Mr. Lu Yi. He has performed extensively in China and internationally. For the last 6 years, Xiao Hong has been a principle teacher at the S.F. School of Circus Arts. He currently performs with Jennings McGowen in an elegant doubles acrobatic act.

Adam Kenyon Venker (Body Awareness) is an Bay Area actor, improvisor, dancer, and clown. He is a member of Pacific Playback Theater, an improvisational ensemble, and a graduate of the Clown Conservatory at the Circus Center of San Francisco. Adam has a Master's Degree in Philosophy and Religion from the California Institute of Integral Studies and has traveled widely investigating and exploring the methods of actor training which seek to unify the body and the mind. Adam is currently enrolled in the graduate level certificate program in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies with Integrated Movement Studies.

Dominique Jando (History of Clowning) began his involvement with the circus four decades ago, in his native France, as a clown at the legendary Cirque Medrano in Paris. In 1974, as General Secretary of the Paris Cultural Center, he participated with Alexis Gruss in the creation of France's first professional circus school, and of "Le Cirque a l'Ancienne", which eventually became the French National Circus. Dominique joined New York's Big Apple Circus in 1983, where he served as Associate Artistic Director for nineteen years. A circus and popular entertainment historian, he has published five books and written many articles on these subjects both in Europe and the US. The Russian translation of his "Histoire Mondiale du Cirque" is the official circus history textbook of both Moscow's Circus School and Theater Institute. He is also co-founder of the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, one of the world's two major circus arts competitions, which is held each winter in Paris.

Joanna Haigood (Dance) relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area from New York in 1979 and co-founded Zaccho Dance Theatre. Her creative work focuses on making dances that use natural, architectural and cultural environments as a point of departure for movement exploration and narrative. Haigood's works involve in-depth research into the history and the character of sites and typically integrates aerial flight and suspension as a way of expanding the dancers' spatial and dynamic range. Her work has been commissioned by leading arts presenters both nationally and internationally. Among them are the National Black Arts Festival, Festival d'Avignon and Festival d'Arles in France, the Exploratorium Museum, Capp Street Project, Dancing in the Streets, the Walker Art Center, Jacob's Pillow, the San Francisco Art Commission, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center and the Tryon Center for Visual Art. Her choreography has also been commissioned by Alonzo King's LINES Contemporary Ballet and Axis Dance Company and is in the repertory of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. Ms. Haigood has received many distinguished fellowships for her work as a choreographer and director, most notably from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the W.A. Gerbode Foundation, the Irvine Foundation and Meet the Composer. She has been also been honored with the 1989 Bay Guardian Local Discovery (GOLDIE) Award, with three Isadora Duncan Dance Awards for performance and visual design and with the 1999 Cal Arts/Alpert Award in recognition of her contribution to the field dance. Ms. Haigood has taught aerial and contemporary dance forms for 25 years and has had the pleasure of being an Artist in Residence at the Center National De Danse Contemporaine and the Centre National des Arts du Cirque in France; the Laban Centre in England, the Headlands Center for the Arts, Spelman College in Atlanta, Stanford University and at the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco..

Letitia Bartlett (Mime) began mime studies in 1971 with Samuel Avital and in 1974 formed the mime duo "Kite Tails" with Rob List. They performed through out the USA and Europe for seven years. In 1981, Letitia became a member of San Francisco's Make*A*Circus, developing material, directing shows, and performing with the company until 1990. For 22 years Letitia has worked with Jerry Falek in the clown/ mime duo "Jeremy and Julietta", performing in schools, festivals and corporate events, and traveling as far as Taiwan, Mexico and Alaska. Letitia co-created "Ecstasy in the Everyday" which was presented at the Yale Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan as well as at many houses of worship throughout the Bay Area. Currently, Letitia teaches movement and physical acting at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and is an Iyengar yoga instructor.

Judy Finelli (Circus Skills & Circus History) co-founded the San Francisco School for Circus Arts (now Circus Center) with Wendy Parkman and was the Artistic Director of the Pickle Family Circus from 1987 through 1990. She received a BFA in theatre, film and television from NYU School of the Arts in 1970. After graduating, Judy and Hovey Burgess appeared in the Circo dell 'Arte, the Electric Circus, at Carnegie Hall in a Lucio Berio concert, in the Theatre for the New City, Artpark and the International Mime Festival in La Crosse, WI in 1974. Judy's other circus credits include Merlin's Magic Circus. Circus Vargas and the Pickle Family Circus. TV credits include Sesame Street, the Leon Bibb Show, Hellova Town, the Mike Douglas Show, and a KQED documentary on the Pickle Family Circus. She also appeared in Robert Atlman's film "Popeye". Judy has taught at NYU School of the Arts, Juilliard Drama School, ACT Summer Training Congress, National Theatre School of Canada, Dell 'Arte School of Mime and Comedy, Brandeis College, Sarah Lawrence College, National Theatre of the Deaf, SUNY Binghamton, The Bathhouse Theatre and Ringling Clown College. She has visited the Government School for Circus and Variety Arts in Moscow and Lecoq's Le Central in Paris and was past president of the International Jugglers' Association.

William Hall (Improvisation) has been a professional actor since graduating from Boston University. He has appeared in numerous feature films including, The Right Stuff, Howard the Duck, Leonard Part VI, Murder in the First, Father's Day and Twisted (with Ashley Judd). He is a founding member of Fratelli Bologna, a business theatre company helping corporations communicate using comedy and theatre. He has served as an entertainment consultant to Disneyland, the Queen Mary and The World of Coca-Cola. In 1986 he founded the Bay Area Theatresports organization and The BATS School of Improvisation.

Joel Schechter, D.F.A. (History of Clowning and Circus) is a professor of theatre arts at S.F. State University and is the author of "Durov's Pig", "The Congress of Clowns and Other Russian Circus Acts" and "The Pickle Clowns: New American Circus Comedy". He has been on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama, SUNY Stony Brook and NYU's Department of Performance Studies.

Guest Faculty (partial list)

Clowning: Ronlin Forman; John Gilkey; Avner Eisenberg
Music: Johannes Mager
Clowns in Community: Wavy Gravy; Dan Griffiths
Puppetry: Liebe Wetzel
Theater: John Warren

Clown Conservatory - Faculty - Classes - Schedule & Auditions