Jacques Lecoq, the French mime master and teacher of the art of expressive gesture and actions, has died. He was 77 and died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Paris on Jan. 19.
Because he rarely performed in public, Lecoq was not as famous as Marcel Marceau and Etienne Ducroux, French pantomimists who are well known in that country and around the world. But he was an influential teacher, tutoring many foreign mimes at Ecole Jacques Lecoq, the school he founded in Paris in 1956 that is run by his wife, Fay.
A former fencer and commedia dell'arte trouper, Lecoq was not interested in turning out classic mimes or actors. He stressed the development of "physical vocabulary" and taught silent improvisation, the use of masks, techniques of movement and the spirit of comedy, melodrama and tragedy.
"Find the gesture of the word, the actions for the verbs, in the profound silence in which they were born," he often said.