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Topic: Hi Jeff! The magicians body movements
Message: Posted by: Sindre (May 26, 2009 04:39AM)
Hi! My name is Sindre Rian and I'm a 14 years old boy from Norway. I just have to say that I love watching your magic and I'm a big fan of you.

Im currently making a show for the next "Norwegians got talent" But I have a problem: The stances. Stances is one of my main problems. The other is being nervous. I just think that my stances are so odd. Do you think you could help me to understand how magicians develop their body movement in their acts?

Best wishes: Sindre Rian
Message: Posted by: Jeff McBride (May 26, 2009 01:30PM)
Greetings Sindre, and all...

It is a challenge for me to give you advice on your movements without seeing your show. Often, I work with students who send me YouTube clips of their act, which I can review and offer feedback on.

I will give you some advice. Seek professional help. Sign up for regular dance lessons. Over the years, I have found this to be a great investment in my performance skills. I have explored the worlds of ballet, modern dance, jazz dance, street dancing, contact improv, pantomime, and other movement skills such as martial arts, juggling, poi and staff spinning, and tai chi.

Of course, you don't have to do all of these at once. Find one movement form of interest and pursue it. Talk to a dance teacher or theatrical director, or choreographer about your needs. Contact a local community college or university near you, and ask to speak to their drama department. See if they can offer any assistance.

As for dealing with nervousness, the first thing you need to do is to re-frame the word "nervousness" and call it "excitement." One of the most common questions that I’m asked is how to over- come stage fright and butterflies in the stomach. We must ask ourselves this question, “Who wants to have a hobby or pro-
fession that makes us tremble and sweat?” The obvious answer is, “All of us!” I have also found the prescription of Dr. Rob Gilbert not only humorous but also helpful in examining this debilitating dis-ease: “It’s all right to have butterflies in the stomach, just teach them to fly in formation!”
Stage fright and nervousness can be overcome with a daily regimen of practice, rehearsal, deep breathing, and low-stress performance. Many performers that I’ve witnessed in their nervousness are simply
struggling for what to say next. They do not have adequate scripts and they have not run through the routine enough to get over the hiccups where speech and physical technique intersect.

Deep breathing exercises… Before a show or practice session, try this: Take a slow, deep inhale, and feel your belly expand and your lungs completely fill. Make this inhalation last for a slow count of four. As you exhale, feel your lungs empty completely as your ribs draw together. Make your exhale last for six counts. Repeat this sequence five times. Notice any differences. This will help the symptoms of shortness of
breath and will also have a positive effect of the symptom of the racing heart. Additionally, it will help to quell nausea or nervous stomach. Make sure you remember to write in some deep and gentle breathing into your script. It’s the pause that refreshes!

I hope this helps you have a better experience when you get your show on tv, Sindre!

Yours in movement and magic,

Message: Posted by: Sindre (May 26, 2009 01:46PM)
Thank you very much Jeff! This advice is certanly something I'm going to remember.
Actually, some of my interests are: Tae kwon do, Football, and music. I like the Norwegian dance Halling too, but I don't practice it. Maybe I could try to incorporate my interests (or at least some of them) into my magic?

I really got inspired by you and your way of thinking. Could I make an act based on the happenings in my life? Or would that be to copy you and your work?

Thank's again for answering me. I feel very honored.
Message: Posted by: Jeff McBride (May 26, 2009 04:04PM)
Hi Sindre

Yes, make a story on your life! A great idea.

the art of magic is equally about practice as performance

Read the book MASTERY by George Leonard...you will enjoy it!

Yours in the life walk of mystery,

Message: Posted by: Jeff McBride (May 31, 2009 11:30PM)
A review of MASTERY:
Mastery - George Leonard
Written by Mike Noel
Sunday, 26 March 2006
In this book George Leonard describes the concept of "mastery" and explains how to acheive it. Mastery is defined not as a goal to be achieved but as an acceptance, and even enjoyment, of the process of learning and growing in a skill. The journey is much more important than the destination. Leonard states that this focus on the process rather than the end result is counter intuitive to our western, result-oriented culture. He encourages the reader to look past the immediate gratification of results and embrance the times on the plateaus of development.
The first part of the book defines this concept of mastery in much more detail. Leonard explains three character types that often defeat mastery: the Dabbler, the Obsessive, and the Hacker. The Dabbler is one who starts many new things and makes good progress initially. However, once the Dabbler hits the first plateau he gets bored and moves onto the next greatest thing. The Obsessive lives for the growth spurt in a skill. If he's not constantly and actively growing he presses himself harder and faster. Eventually the Obsessive burns out and moves on to something else. Once the Hacker has passed over the first major growth spurt and is on the first plateau he just stays there. He doesn't actively spend time trying to learn and grow. He just tinkers with the bit of skill he's developed and remains satisfied at that level.

The second part of the book explains the main keys to mastery. The first key is instruction. Leonard recommends that to be on the road to mastery the pupil needs an instructor. The second key is practice. Any music student has heard this time and time again. Without practice the instruction is wasted. The third key is surrender. The concept of surrender refers to being willing to fail at attempts to become better. The fourth key is intentionality. This is "keeping your mind in the game" or "your eye on the prize". The idea here is to maintain a clear vision of where you are trying to go (even if you never get there). The final key to mastery is the "edge" or the constant urge to challenge and press the limits. This is what keeps the student from complacency and keeps the student moving forward on the path.

In the third part of the book Leonard offers tools for managing the keys to mastery. In this section he relies heavily on his extensive aikido training and philosophy. To be honest, I started to lose track of the main point during most of this part of the book.

Despite the abstract philosophy of the third section the book was very useful in providing a new perspective on developing skills. In fact, as a result of reading this book I contacted an instructor and began, after 15 years of being self-taught, to take serious lessons for learning to play the bass guitar.