Mina Liccione

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Mina Liccione
Mina Liccione photograph.jpg
Medium Comedian, Tap Dancer, Choreographer, Arts Educator
Nationality American
Spouse Ali Al Sayed
Website www.minaliccione.com

Mina Liccione (Born Christina M Liccione) is an American hybrid artist whose two passions are rhythm and comedy. Liccione is an award winning performing artist – comedian, tap dancer, choreographer and arts educator.[1]

Early life[edit]

Liccione was born in Rochester, New York, but later moved to New York City as a teenager.[1] At the age of 3, Liccione’s parents enrolled her in dance class because she was very shy. At age 13, she held her first job as a dance teacher’s assistant, and by age 14 she was in the Performance Plus Dance Company and also a Flower City Rockette.[2] While in high school at the age of 16, Liccione was accepted into the 3-1-3 program where she began to attend dance classes at the college level as part of the dance program at SUNY Brockport taught by Garth Fagan, the Tony Award winning choreographer of The Lion King.[1] At age 17, Liccione was awarded a scholarship to Marymount Manhattan College on East 71st Street in Manhattan where she went on to major in Dance.[1][3]

College years[edit]

While attending college, Liccione started to take acting and comedy improv classes, speaking on stage for the first time. She was cast as the lead in a number of college productions including the role as The Evil Step Mother in the musical Cinderella Ragtime, the role of the Blue Queen in ‘The Chess Game’ and the role of the Wolf in Peter and the Wolf.[1] No matter what production she was in, Liccione always played a comedic relief or “bad guy” role which always ended up being funny. For Liccione, comedy has always been a part of her life since she was a child. The roles she played linked her passions of performance and comedy together, creating the perfect combination for the all-around entertainer. Liccione decided to minor in Theater Arts and also had the chance to focus on choreography and dance composition.

Performances - early years[edit]

Liccione’s first big break came at the age of 17 on the very first season of MTV’s dance show The Grind where she went on to film 8 episodes.[1][4] Liccione also went on to be a troupe member of the experimental performance art troupe J Mandle Productions, cast in ‘Cabaret’ Off Broadway, was a back-up dancer for Candy and Deee-lite, performed and modeled with the legendary House of Xtravaganza, was cast by world famous Japanese mime Yas Hakashima to be in his first ensemble based production.[1] Liccione was also cast as a featured dancer in the major motion picture Cradle Will Rock directed by Tim Robbins starring Susan Sarandon, Billy Murray, John Turturro, Vanessa Redgrave and many more.[2]

Broadway[edit]

In October 1998, Liccione was cast in the Broadway show Stomp![5] She performed with the New York cast until January 1999 and then went on tour with them until 2001. Liccione was on the USA National Tour and later a member of the European International Touring Company. In 2001, Stomp opened up a show in San Francisco and asked Liccione if she would re-locate there to be a part of the show. She accepted. Liccione portrayed the lead comedic role in Stomp, once again linking her comedic stills to her dance and musical performances.

Clowning[edit]

Liccione’s choice to stay in San Francisco opened up many new opportunities for her. At the time her idol was physical comedian Bill Irwin who started his career in San Francisco. In a way, Liccione followed in his footsteps. He went to clown school then joined a famous theatrical circus, which Liccione went on to do the same. With her love of comedy and performance, Liccione auditioned for the Clown Conservatory as part of the San Francisco School of Circus Arts, the only professional circus arts training school and the only one of its kind in the USA.[6] Liccione was accepted and offered a partial scholarship to attend. Liccione started going to clown school by day and continued to Stomp by night. Clown Conservatory included acrobatics, juggling, circus skills, improv, ensemble based physical theater, clown therapy and much more.[7] The program was vigorous and offered a good amount of performance opportunities.

Before graduating, Liccione was invited to audition for a new show by Make*A*Circus named “Zoomorphia” and was cast as one of the leads.[1] Upon accepting the role Liccione also trained to be an aerialist on the static trapeze. Liccione performed a comedy aerial solo on their summer tour along with a one woman band act. After the show closed, Liccione then was asked to audition for the New Pickle Circus, a renowned theatrical circus in California. Liccione was cast as the lead Ring Mistress in their production of ‘Circumstance’ directed by Cirque Du Soleil stars Gypsy Snider and Shana Caroll.[8]

During this time, Stomp was leaving San Francisco and asked Liccione if she would relocate Boston with the show. Liccione declined and decided to stay and focus on Circus, as well as to fulfill another dream: getting her Master’s Degree.

Later years[edit]

Liccione went on the get her Master’s Degree in experimental performance at the New College of California.[1] Liccione never defined herself as just a dancer, comedian, actor, singer or writer, but as an interdisciplinary artist and wanted to get a degree that reflected this. The program was one of only two experimental performance degrees offered in the USA.

During Graduate school, Liccione was asked to be a core member of Velocity Circus. Liccione accepted and went on to be cast in lead roles for a series of shows by Velocity Circus including ‘Heliosphere Jr.’ and ‘1906’.[9]

During this time, Liccione also became the dance teacher at San Francisco, School of Circus Arts and was contracted to choreograph a number of theatrical circus shows around the Bay Area, as well as the legendary Annual Bracebridge Dinner. Liccione performed with Everyday Theater, Circo Romani, Intersection of the Arts, AIDS the made for TV Musical, Sucker Punch Series. Liccione wrote her first one woman show entitled ‘Della Pancha’ which got rave reviews and was invited to headline as part of the WOW Festival and won the ‘best solo show’ award.[10] Liccione was in the National Lampoon's film ‘Pucked’ and was hired by Cirque Du Soleil to lead training workshops for the cast of their highly acclaimed show ‘Corteo’ alongside the one and only Jeff Raz.[1]

After completing her MA degree in Creative Inquiry with an emphasis on Experimental Performance, Liccione was offered a scholarship to continue on to earn her MFA Degree while building the very first bridge program between New College of California and the Clown Conservatory offering the first USA degree in Theatrical Clowning.[7] Liccione accepted and acted a Professor of ‘Theatrical Clowning’ course. Liccione graduated with an MFA in Experimental Performance and Education completing a thesis on the healing elements of humor and how comedy can be used as a tool to heal and bring people closer. A visit to her great aunt at a senior center in New York was the inspiration for her final project. The residents were sad, lonely and depressed. At that moment Liccione decided she wanted to help them and bring them some joy. She wanted to create a character that the seniors could relate to and enjoy. Audrey Heartburn was then born. The Audrey Heartburn character was an older Italian-American female with an extreme fashion sense, big glasses, blonde hair and bold sense of humor that was contagious. With the creation of this character, Liccione then designed a 1 hour show comparative to a Talk Show which was made up of various segments. Some of the segments included: In the News, Travel, Baking, Getting fit, special guest interview, musical performance, Have you ever wondered and the big song and dance finale. With these elements, the ‘Audrey Heartburn Show’ was created.[11] The show went on a tour of 20 senior centers, that of which Liccione stated “changed her life”. The tour was all about using her art to bring joy, love and laughter to those in need.

Comedy[edit]

Throughout her entire life and career, Liccione always performed comedy whether it be the comic relief in a play or musical, the comedic role in Stomp, a character role in a comedy sketch or film, or physical comedy in the circus. Comedy had always been a part of her life. Liccione had always performed comedy just not Stand Up comedy, yet.

Liccione states that her first stand-up comedy experience happened by accident. While residing in San Francisco, Liccione was asked to host a number of charity events and performances because she was a funny and entertaining MC with comedy acting and physical comedy experience. During one event, things were running late and the audience was getting restless so the producer pushed Liccione out and said ‘just do something funny!”. Liccione walked out on the stage and did her first Stand Up Comedy set. She told a funny story, reenacted a horrible modern dance performance she had saw at the same venue a week beforehand and then started doing ‘crowd work’ which is when a Stand Up Comic picks on a few people in the audience and improvises a series of jokes based upon where they are from and what they do for a living etc. Liccione received rave reviews after the show and one the performers, who was a well known stand up comic in San Francisco told her she needed to continue doing stand up comedy. Liccione then went on to do some local shows around San Francisco and continued to add Stand Up Comedy sets to her big MC gigs, and it just kept growing. Liccione’s use of comedy and performance since she was a child paved the way towards a career as a stand-up comedian and gave her the confidence and skills needed to be successful at it.

To date, Liccione has performed and taught comedy on a professional level across the globe including: USA, Canada, Kuwait, Qatar, Scotland, Jordan, Greece, Italy and Mexico. She has performed stand up with great comedians including Gabriel Iglesias, Dean Obeidallah, Tommy Davidson, Michael Winslow (of Police Academy), Aron Kader, Dean Edwards, Ron Josol and many others.[1]

Dubai, United Arab Emirates[edit]

In the Summer of 2007, a friend of Liccione’s recommended her to a producer who was looking to book a female comedian and tap dancer who could do ‘family material’ for an Arts Festival. After sending in her videos and materials, she was booked. Her 8 day stay turned into a month-long stay because she kept getting booked for more events, to teach for children’s art camps, as well as to train some local teachers. The local arts center then asked Liccione if she would like to return to start a comedy and tap program and she accepted.[11] Everyone Liccione met in Dubai said that it lacked art and needed comedy - there was no local comedy scene and very few artists. Liccione relocated to Dubai to help build a local arts community.[11]

Dubomedy arts[edit]

Liccione started teaching a few classes which quickly became a big success. She then met, Ali Al Sayed, whom shared her passion for building and local comedy community and joined forces. The success of classes led to the creation of Dubomedy Arts School, the first comedy and urban arts school in the MENA region. Dubomedy created a platform for local artists to perform which in previous years was almost non-existent. Dubomedy’s mission is to use comedy as a tool to bring people of different cultures, races, religions and finances together, in a supportive and nurturing environment, while offering them a platform to perform, forge new friendships and become part of a sustainable community. They train, they produce- from corporate to community.

Over the last 5.5 years, the milestones and historical achievements Dubomedy has made are numerous including:

Premiere Comedy and Urban Arts School in the MENA Region- 2008[12]

Local Stand Up Comedian goes pro, Ali Al Sayed- 2008[13]

1st weekly Comedy Night in the UAE, Monday Night Funnies- 2009[14]

Female personality, Mina Liccione, to be on the cover of Gulf News' Friday Magazine- 2009[15]

Tap Dance & Body percussion troupe in the UAE, Dubomedy Sole Steppers- 2009[16]

All female stand up comedy show and tour in the MENA Region makes her-story, FUNNY GIRLS- 2010[17]

UAE homegrown performing arts festival featuring over 200 local artists, Dubomedy International Performing Arts Festival- 2010[18]

Volunteer Clown Program in the UAE, Clowns Who Care Project - 2010[2]

UAE Comedy tour with over 20 homegrown comedians trained through Dubomedy Arts School- ‘Rotana Comedy Tour’ - 2011[19]

Professional improvisational comedy troupe in the UAE is founded, IMPROV REVOLUTION- 2011[20]

Ali Al Sayed and Mina Liccione perform as part of the historical re-instatement of the prestigious USA Hickok Belt Award in New York. The Comeback Ceremony & Dinner was Oct, 2011. Dubomedy is proud and deeply honored to be the official entertainment provider for The Hickok Belt's Annual Award Ceremony for many years to come.- 2011[21]

Regular comedy contest in the UAE, Stand Up Showdown- 2012[22]

Abu Dhabi International Comedy Festival. Dubomedy co-produced and provided all of the local talent for this exciting festival- 2012[23]

Invited to lead workshops and performance at the International Theater of Changes Festival in Athens, Greece.- 2012[4]

Premiere UAE produced ensemble comedy show to perform as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! Dubai Laughing and Dubomedy were proud to announce 'Big in Dubai' which was performed in Edinburgh August 4–11, 2012 featuring Ray Addison, Jamie Johnson, Host Mina Liccione and Headliner Ali Al Sayed.[4]

Mina Liccione is nominated for Emirates Woman of the Year Award – Mina Liccione “Dubai’s First Lady of Comedy” – Sept, 2012[24]

Ali Al Sayed is nominated for Ahlan’s “Best in Dubai” award in the “Best male personality” category – Sept, 2012[25]

Dubomedy awarded "Highly Commended" for producing "The Road to Edinburgh" show in the "Best Comedy Gig" category at Dubai Timeout Nightlife Awards. March 2013

The efforts made by Liccione, her partner Ali Al Sayed and Dubomedy have led to the creation of a strong comedy community. They continue to produce numerous local and international shows as well as train hundreds and hundreds of budding performers each year. Their graduates have gone on to continue extending the community by starting their own comedy nights and growing into a proper local comedy circuit.

The Clowns Who Care Project[edit]

Mina wanted to continue her charitable outreach work and alongside Ali Al sayed launched Clowns Who Care project. The Clowns Who Care Project is a volunteer initiative whose sole purpose is to bring joy, love, light, awareness and support to centers for children and adults with special needs, senior centers, charity organizations and hospitals.[26] The team of trained volunteer artists perform, play games, sing songs, tell jokes, dance, lead workshops and interact with patients/residents from their heart. Laughter therapy is proven to decrease stress levels, help build social skills, increase blood circulation and bring people closer![27] They also provide professional entertainment, technical and marketing support for charity and fundraising events as well as produce special events to support humanitarian projects and charity organizations.[2]

Accolades/achievements[edit]

Awarded Dance scholarship to Marymount Manhattan College, interdisciplinary arts scholarship to Clown Conservatory, arts education scholarship to New College of California.

Awarded “Best Solo Show” at WOW Festival, San Francisco, California[1][28]

Received an award at the Dubai International Dance Festival for her contributions to the arts community[29]

Chosen as 1 of 6 women who “Shape the World” UAE Heroes- 2011- Shape Magazine[30]

Chosen for Ahlan! Magazine's HOT 100 List of 2011 with Ali Al Sayed as the 'Comedy Couple'[31]

Dubomedy's Comedy Courses were rated 'Best classes to take in Dubai' by Time Out Dubai Magazine[32]

Dubomedy co-created an award-winning comedy activation with Cadbury[33]

Nominated for Emirates Woman of the year Award 2012[24]

Awarded 1st runner-up "most inspiring woman in the GCC" by Philly Arabia - 2013

Today[edit]

Currently, Liccione resides in Dubai, UAE serving as a professional comedian, professor at the American University of Sharjah, co-director of Dubomedy and wife. Her and Ali Al Sayed have become both partners in business and in life, the ultimate comedy couple. They recently returned from a 3 month international comedy tour where they performed in New York, Toronto, Kuwait and Greece, as well as part of the Edinburgh fringe festival in Scotland.[34] Liccione is very passionate about using her art to help others, wants to be a humanitarian when she grows up and will continue to use comedy as a tool to bring people together.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Mina Liccione official page
  2. ^ a b c d Koshy, T. (2011, 5 27). Friday. Retrieved September 24, 2012, from Gulf News
  3. ^ Marymount Manhattan College Alumni Magazine. (2008). Retrieved September 4, 2012, from Marymount Manhattan College
  4. ^ a b c Ahlan Live. (2012, June 21). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Ahlan Live
  5. ^ Mader, J. (2000, May 24). SF Weekly. Retrieved 1 September 2012, from SF Weekly News
  6. ^ Engardio, J. (2001, September 26). SF Weekly News. Retrieved 1 September 2012, from SF Weekly
  7. ^ a b The Clown Conservatory. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Circus Center San Francisco
  8. ^ Nevius, C. (2002, December 19). SF Gate. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from SF Gate
  9. ^ Hurwitt, R. (2006, June 26). San Francisco celebration suggests better things ahead. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from SF Gate
  10. ^ SF Weekly. (2005, March 30). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from SF Weekly
  11. ^ a b c Farooqui, M. (2008, April 10). XPRESS. Retrieved September 24, 2012, from Gulf News
  12. ^ Fahim, S. (2011, May 1). Dubomedy: Meet the Comics Behind the Region's First Comedy Art School. Retrieved June 27, 2012, from Khaleej Esque
  13. ^ Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2012, from Al Sayed Comedy
  14. ^ Chubb, L. (2009, November 2). Home-grown comedians on new show Monday Night Funnies. Retrieved June 26, 2012, from TimeOut Dubai
  15. ^ Press. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Mina Liccione official page
  16. ^ Read. (2012, September 3). Retrieved September 23, 2012
  17. ^ Wadham, J. (2010, May 3). [http://www.facebook.com/FunnyGirlsMENA?fref=ts Funny Girls]: UAE Comediennes stand up. Retrieved June 27, 2012, from The National
  18. ^ The Organizers. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2012, from DIPAF
  19. ^ Coelho, K. (2011, May 21). UAE Essentials. Retrieved September 22, 2012, from Gulf News
  20. ^ Hassani, Z. A. (n.d.). The National. Retrieved September 22, 2012, from The National
  21. ^ The Belt is Back. (2011, October 16). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Hickok Belt
  22. ^ Dubomedy. (2012, February 8). Dubomedy. Retrieved September 20, 2012, from Dubomedy
  23. ^ Abu Dhabi International Comedy Festival. (n.d.). Retrieved June 25, 2012, from The National
  24. ^ a b Emirates Woman Awards. (2012). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Emirates Woman of the Year Awards 2012
  25. ^ 2012 Best in Dubai. (2012). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Ahlan
  26. ^ Bremner, J. (2011, February 1). Time Out Dubai. Retrieved 1 September 2012, from Time Out Dubai:
  27. ^ Koshy, T. (2011, May 27). Friday. Retrieved August 1, 2012, from Gulf News: http://gulfnews.com/life-style/general/charity-proves-laughter-is-the-best-medicine-1.811867
  28. ^ Women on the Way Festival 2005. (2005). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Footloose
  29. ^ Jamal, R. A. (2012, February 6). Let me Entertain You. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Jawhara
  30. ^ 6 Women Who Shape the World. (2011, October 14). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Ahlan
  31. ^ Hot 100 2011 - Ali Al Sayed and Mina Liccione. (2011, February 21). Retrieved June 25, 2012, from Ahlan
  32. ^ Chubb, L. (2010, July 12). Dubai's Best Classes. Retrieved 1 September 2012, from Timeout Dubai
  33. ^ Cadbury Academy of Joy. (2011, April 28). Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Dubib
  34. ^ The Road to Edinburgh. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2012, from AhlanLive: http://www.ahlanlive.com/the-road-edinburgh-191142.html