By Ed Will Denver post staff writer

To know Lurks name is to know his act. One person called him " A white faced protagonist exploiting the dramatic tension inherent in corners."

There you have it. Lurk lurks. Look for all 10 feet of him in corners of alleys and buildings along the 16 st mall today through Sunday as part of the 8th Annual U S West Buskerfest. Festival organizer Downtown Denver Partnership Inc. booked some 30 acts from around the united states and several other countries.

Among those scheduled to appear are Alex Elixir, British Columbia, who is billed as a juggler, tightrope walker, balancer and comedian; Gazzo, England via key west Florida, a magician; Hilby, German, aka The Skinny German Juggle Boy, Leo Vandewoestijne, The Netherlands, a master unicyclist; and Mark Segal, Glasgow, Scotland, whose act includes the Ladder walk of death and a lot of bad jokes.

Also booked are Misaji Terasawa, Japan, who wows audiences with Amasaiku, the ancient art of candy sculpting; The New York Street Boys, Denver, who play percussion on buckets, walls , pavement, construction hats and much more ; John Higby, Evergreen, aka yoyo-man and Karen Quest, San Francisco, who blends trick roping, whip cracking and cowgirl comedy.

As always, admission to the performances is free. The Buskers only pay comes in the form of donations from their audiences. Denvers buskerfest stands as the U.S. debut of Lurks creator, New Zealander Martin Ewen. His resume includes 16 years of performing in the theatres and on the streets of more than 20 countries.

"What I am looking forward to is a good corner," he said. "It sounds very simple but I just hide behind a corner and deal with the people who come round the corner," Ewen, of course, does not just stand 10 ft tall but displays such a gracefully mastery of stilts that he seems to have been born to that height. he first climbed on stilts as a teenager in New Zealand. "There is an international stilt dance group called Stalker Stilt Theatre," Ewen said. "They are a big ensemble and very serious. They do large dark archetypal dance pieces. One of their members was leaving and one of the more mischievous members of the group suggested, given that I had done a lot of balance and gymnastic work previously, that I fill in."

Ewen also attended a New Zealand Clown school where his studies included improvisation, circus skills, mime, street theatre, audiences and the social and literary history of clown. After two years with the Stalkers, Ewen left for Japan, where he performed and studied for three years. He worked one season with a Filipino circus in Nagasaki- "with two dozen clinically insane poodles, a demonic chimpanzee and a sociopathic elephant"- Before moving on to the Osaka World Expo, which drew one million visitors a day on holidays and weekends, he said,

"(and) I studied Butoh, which is a type of grotesque mime/dance that trys to manifest dark submerged sub textual thought and feeling. It is a modern form of theatre and has no history prior to the latter 20th century. To combine that with a clown seemed like a challenge," he said.

He seems to have met that challenge with Lurk, whom he created about 11 years ago.

"I was initially quite a happy clown, but thats all changed now," Ewen said.

"I think I am quite unique in that I am a conscious clown . Most clowns don't, in performance, seem to recognize the fact that they are clowns. They act like clowns, where as I am sort of trapped in the medium. I am quite conscious of it and not very happy about it. I am sort of professionally unhappy and a bit grumpy, and I try to get it out on other people rather than just living with myself."

Ewen found another important part of Lurk after he left Japan for Europe. He entertained in several countries there, including France, where he studied mime under Gustav Menzies.

"(He) taught me very importantly that your priority, whether you are a performer or not, is to keep yourself entertained. It was at this point that Lurk was born, and I allowed myself to be professionally unhappy and start to really enjoy myself," Ewen said.

Ewen of course, knows he's a professional entertainer. It is just that his approach is to amuse himself, while other people watch and enjoy him doing that if they want to.

"This frees me from a lot of things. I don't need my audience's approval, for example, and most audiences even sense that and just watch me go," Ewen said. He said his performances purposely are not very structured. He has worked during Lurks 11 year existence to free the act from structure, allowing Ewen to deal basically with character and form. "and given the fact that I have been on stilts for 16 years, I am also dealing with quite an extensive movement vocabulary."

Ewen and the other buskers perform along the 16th street mall from 11.30am-8pm today and Saturday and 11.30am-5pm Sunday. shows also take place from 8-11pm today and Saturday at Denver pavilions, 16th street mall and Glenarm place.

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