Sunday March 13, 2016

Michelle Thrush on alter ego Majica, the aboriginal healing clown

Michelle Thrush's alter ego is Majica, the aboriginal healing clown.

Michelle Thrush's alter ego is Majica, the aboriginal healing clown. (Facebook)

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A small child who Michelle Thrush knew for only a handful of months changed her life and was the inspiration behind a character she created 13 years ago to help young children. 

Majica the aboriginal healing clown is the creation of Gemini Award winning Thrush, who has worked alongside Johnny Depp, Benicio del Toro and on the TV series Blackstone, for which she won her Gemini.

Inspired by Lunette from The Big Comfy Couch, Majica has yarn braids wrapped in moosehide with bells on the end. Her hat has beadwork, her crinoline is the colour of the four directions — red, black, yellow and white — and she wears moccasins and an antique Cree belt.  

The clown character uses storytelling to help children 3 to 7 years old understand their feelings.

"She comes in … and establishes who she is, and is silly and funny," said Thrush.

Michelle Thrush

Michelle Thrush won a Gemini Award in 2011 for Blackstone. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Through Majica, Thrush establishes a rapport with kids before getting to the real reason she is visiting with them.

"What Majica does is she says, 'Sometimes in my body, I feel …' — and then I act it out with my body what I'm feeling."

Thrush acts out being happy, sad, mad, shy and angry and gets the children to guess based on her body language.

"Once they identify what I'm feeling, then we talk about what it feels like in their bodies and how they put words to what they're feeling."

Majica came to Thrush about 13 years ago when a new family moved in next to her family. Their child played with Thrush's and attended the same aboriginal preschool.

But then Thrush noticed the little boy was sad a lot and she would hear yelling coming from his home. He would ask for food and she would feed him. The family moved out in the middle of the night, and Thrush was heartbroken that she'd lost that connection.

"That's when the vision of Majica started appearing … and I'd see this aboriginal clown in my head."

As that vision grew stronger, Thrush drew her on a piece of paper with her daughter's crayons and built the costume. Since then she has travelled across Canada as Majica.

"Children just want love. They just want to be recognized," she said. "It's very rare I can leave a classroom without them running over and just wanting hugs … and that's why I do what I do."