Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm a jerk...

And have been away for a while. Been a little busy and crazy between The Seven and a few side projects.
I've been taking some time and getting back to my roots-in magic. I spent some time a few weeks ago back at my old high school, just outside of Philly, teaching some students some basics of magic. They are doing a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and wanted to have the faeries be able to do some magic.
It was a blast and fun seeing my former teacher and catch up with her. It made me realize a few things that I learned early on that I definitely take for granted. Two in particular stick out for me:
1.) Early on, I learned that the basic difference between good magic and bad magic is very very simple and not complicated at all. It all comes down to movement.
If you move during a trick like you move when you are NOT doing a trick, it completely masks the technique. It is truly magic. If you do something disparate from your traditional "movement set", it sticks out like a sore thumb and even if the audience doesn't know HOW you did it they know that you DID. It breaks that very fragile illusion.
One of the the prettiest routines I've seen in a long time is by Homer Liwag...and I promise, it looks as good or better in person:

But all of the moves and movements are consistent. I won't call anyone out as being bad, but you know it when you see it. If someone inexperienced tries to vanish a coin, the gesture doesn't look natural.
This is a long way of saying, it was interesting trying to get a room full of teenagers to become self aware of their movements and how they act. We take it for granted...take some time and think and observe how you move and how other people move. It's more interesting than you think.

2.)Magic is boring. Well, that's a bit of a fib. The secret is boring. One of my favorite tricks is one of the oldest and one of the simplest. I have you pick a card and rather than find it, it's under my beer that's been there the whole time.
Check out an absolute pro doing his version of it:

It's beautiful in it's simplicity...and I'll do it and people will hound you to tell them how to do it... everyone's inner child nursing that tiniest flame of hope that you'll lean over, and whisper in their ear, "It's real magic" and for it to be true.
You want me to tell you? You really do? For it to work, and REALLY fool you, to be really enjoyable, even I have to believe that it's real magic a little.
I let my hands do it. 
I'll talk, I'll chat, but my hands do the magic.
Wait, you mean you want to know the actual MECHANICS?
I promise, you don't.  (Now you want to know even MORE don't you?)
Stop here if you don't want to know.  I will tell you and you will be disappointed.

You sure?

I have you pick a card. Then, when you're not looking, I take it out of the deck and put it under my drink. It's a tad more complicated than that, but that's technique. You can find the two basic moves you need to do this is any magic book at your local bookstore: a control and a palm.
It's easy to learn, but it's a trick that takes forever to do well...but the secret is boring. You want to make a coin disappear? Pretend to put it in your other hand.
How do you play a piano? You hit the keys.
How do you light a show? Point some lights.
How do you play a guitar? Strum some strings.
Really? As magical as anything looks, the technique, the fundamentals are pretty boring....
it's the person and the technique that makes the beauty happen. It's rare that the secret exceeds the effect.

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