Posts Tagged ‘performance’

FOUR POINTS: Snow days are bonus days you can use to better your magic

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Ellusionist is a worldwide company, so we know about the different weather our customers deal with. For North Americans, snowfall has been a problem, especially in the New England area, where Boston has dealt with record amounts. On the other side of the globe, summer has hit particularly hard in Australia, marked by the second-warmest February on record.

Whether it’s extreme cold or extreme heat, what those two things have in common is that you’ll be stuck inside. And maybe that means you get a day off. Classes canceled? Boss tell you to stay home? It’s a surprise extra day that you can use to veg out or catch up on work or a TV show.

Or you could use it for your magic.

A weather-related vacay day gives you the perfect chance to level up your game, and get ready for when the weather is better. And that shared cabin fever between you and your neighbors means the community is primed for your performance. Here’s four suggestions: (more…)

FOUR POINTS: Reasons why practice is just as addictive as performing

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Magicians quickly learn that when they dive into magic, they have actually picked up two activites: The art of practicing magic, and the art of performing magic. At Ellusionist, we are musicians, actors, photographers, speakers, athletes, crafters and more. Our staff members do a variety of things that require practice or rehearsal.

But none of those other arts or activities have such a clear separation between practice and performance.

We all know this. It’s why we recognize how the thrill of mastery is completely separate from the thrill of entertaining — but just as addictive. It’s why hobbyists sometimes practice just as hard as pros. It’s why magicians get together in groups and jams more than any other field of art we’ve seen. It’s why we have decks of cards specifically for shows and other decks specifically for practice sessions — and those decks are nicer than the performance ones, aren’t they? (We imagine you’ll keep a healthy stash of Black Kings for yourself, just for that reason.)

Dai Vernon was a relentless rehearser. And even S.W. Erdnase wrote about the thrill of learning:

“The enthusiast will not rest until every sleight in the calendar has been perfectly mastered, so that he may be enabled to nonplus and squelch that particularly obnoxious but ever present individual, who with his smattering of the commoner sleights always knows ‘exactly how it is done.’ Acquiring the art is in itself a most fascinating pastime, and the student will need no further incentive the moment the least progress is made.”

But the WHY behind it is fascinating, and gives us clues about how tightly magic gets tied into our way of life, in such a way that other arts can’t even touch: (more…)

Let the cards do the talking: Flourishes can speak volumes without words

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” In a general sense, he’s right.

But that doesn’t exactly work for us magicians. At some point we have to speak — to introduce ourselves, deliver patter or respond to a spontaneous moment. But there’s ways we can speak less.

Better yet, we can let our cards do the talking for us.

During our recent podcast with Adam Wilber, the creator of Pyro, he proposed trying an experiment: The next time you perform, introduce yourself for one group with a good card spring, then for the next group, introduce yourself without the spring.

The results should be revealing, Wilber said, and skew toward the side of better reactions from the first group.

“The biggest thing for a crowd is to win them over quickly, so that you’re not the corny magician they have seen before. Something as simple as springing the cards from hand to hand can make you a professional in the audience’s eyes.”

We’ve talked about the balance between either showing or hiding proficiency with cards. Some magicians lean more toward Dai Vernon’s Erdnase-inspired philosophy of casual, non-flashy movement, others lean toward Paul LePaul’s idea that expert manipulation could generate magical reactions from spectators. Starting off with a flourish definitely puts you on the LePaul side of that line.

But think about what a flourish says, without speaking a word:

  • • Not everyone can do a flourish. Heck, not everyone gets to SEE flourishes very often. It’s easy for magicians to forget that, because we watch performance videos and cardistry displays like they are Super Bowl commercials. But most people rarely get to see such a thing live. That rarity is compelling, and is a tremendous advantage.
  • • Some magician’s disapproval of flourishes rests in the idea that a spectator, upon seeing a flourish, would instantly recognize it as a display of skill, then go on a Fezzini-inspired rant of logic to deduce that any of the magic they see from you CLEARLY isn’t magic, because you’re capable of such precise manipulations, etc. In our experience, a flourish wakes up an interest in spectators. They make the deduction that you are good at cards, but instead of discounting what’s to come, THEY CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT COMES NEXT. Like Adam said, they recognize you are a professional, and build interest in seeing what you can do.
  • • Flourishes can speak from across a room. We’ve been out in public, just fanning cards, then been approached by people who are curious about what we’re doing. Eight times out of 10, it takes less than a minute for them to ask, “Are you a magician?” In those cases, all the hard work of introducing yourself has been done by them.
  • • Flourishes aren’t limited to just cards. There are rolls and walks you can perform with coins or rings. Or maybe you have a favorite object, such as a lighter, cellphone, money clip, etc. Play with it. Manipulate it. Figure out a trick. Those are basically the same thing as a fan or spring, and can have the same effect.

There are even more ways that a flourish can speak for you, but we’ll let you discover those on your own. Adam and Peter McKinnon teach a series of basic flourishes in How to Do Miracle Card Tricks, and Daniel Madison goes next level with hardcore hand candy in Cardistry.

FOUR POINTS: Consider adding these accessories to your wardrobe

Monday, May 26th, 2014

A lot of our customers ask us which deck of playing cards they should pick, and our answer is usually the same. Because all of our decks have some of the best stock, finish and handling in the business, we recommend that people choose the deck that best fits their performance character.

That’s a fancy way of saying this: Match your style.

Not everyone can use a deck of Arcanes in black, for example. The iconography lends itself to a darker, more mysterious style. Someone who seeks an elegant, refined design will lean toward Artifice, and someone who sticks with table demonstrations will be best served with a deck of Dealers.

We encourage people to treat deck selections like clothing, in a sense, because the same philosophy applies to wardrobe. And that’s something you should be carefully considering, because part of entertaining is looking the part. Nothing enhances your appeal and professionalism like the right wardrobe (consider it your costume), and a magician who does not dress like a pro will find it difficult to score repeat bookings.

We’ll assume you’re familiar with the basics, such as pants, and get right into advanced-class material — you should be thinking about accessories. These enhancements to our clothes also offer performance advantages for the right kinds of effects, as well. (If you really must know what we think about pants, we highly recommend wearing them.)

Whether you are selecting a wardrobe for professional gigs or you want to dress to be magical anywhere anytime, here’s four accessories you should consider as part of your performance character:

(more…)

Canadian magician making most of appearance on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’

Monday, May 5th, 2014

We’ve long complained about the awful treatment that “America’s Got Talent” has given to magicians. And we’re pleased to see that the U.K. version, “Britain’s Got Talent,” is nothing like its American counterpart.

Namely because the show just introduced us to a magician who got our attention. Meet Darcy Oake.

Be honest: How long did it take for you to realize he was doing a dove act and it was cool?

The Canadian magician has wowed on the show, impressing the salty Simon Cowell, who said that Oake is the best magician they have seen in eight seasons. He’s impressed a lot of us at E, too, for a number of reasons — mainly, because he had us riveted throughout that short routine.

“He did for a dove act what Blaine did for close-up,” said Brad Christian, Ellusionist founder and CEO, who also said there’s a lot to learn from this short video:

  • ~ His appearance. The street wear set him apart from other stage magicians, because he had a style we can relate to.
  • ~ Check out the restrained routining. Everything is precision, yet relaxed and confident. No flashy moves, no gestures, no dancing. When he holds up an egg, you know it’s an egg.
  • ~ There’s a lot of confidence here: Because he is relaxed, he doesn’t NEED to have the big flappy arms and wavy fingers that most stage magicians use. Because of that, he commands attention — and we pay it.

We can’t wait to see more of Oake, and to hear how he does in the show. We agree with Cowell: He could win it.

What did you learn from the performance?

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