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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Movement and choreography (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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magicalaurie
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Ontario, Canada
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I've been involved in a few threads discussing presentation. I'm just curious as to how much consideration others give to movement and choreography in their shows? I haven't seen much reference to this aspect of performance in the Café. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places- I am fairly new here.

Movement is a very important aspect of any theatrical performance. I try to incorporate it as much as I can into my show. It can contribute greatly to presentation, making the show more visual and complete for the audience. Anyone care to discuss this?
Jonathan Townsend
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Thanks Laurie! Yes to presentation skills!
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Frank Tougas
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I think magicians do an awful lot of unnecessary movement. I hate to pick on Mr. McBride but I just saw his Abracadazzle DVD and sometimes he puts in so much movement the effect gets obscure. Much like Copperfields incessant smoke and lights. (Interestingly David moves well on stage).

There are literally clone after clone doing hand and dance gestures that add nothing but silliness to routines. Learning to move correctly on stage is very important and adds much to a performance. But from one overweight guy to another, Jeff, the combination of tight leather pants and dance don't add drama, it just looks foolish. (Mystery School Students - Feel free to chide me).

Frank Tougas
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Jaz
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Slydini stressed body language and gestures in his close up teachings, not only for theatrical reasons but for misdirection as well.

Whether it's on a large stage or sitting at a table the movements play an important role.
George Ledo
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The important thing about movement is that it be relevant and appropriate to the show and the performer's persona. I agree that too many magicians do a lot of dancing around, mime, and other stuff that has nothing to do with the type of show and the tricks. This stuff can be either distracting or downright boring.

In theatre we call it blocking or choreography, depending on whether it's movement by an actor in character (i.e., stage business), or a dance number as such. In either case there's an outside entity -- the director or choreographer -- who conceives of it and leads the performers to do it, coaching and rehearsing them along the way. These movements or dances are designed to further the story, explain the characters, or respond to some motivation. They are not random decoration.

I think one of the mistakes that many magicians make is to try to be director, producer, choreographer, and star at the same time. Top-level singers, for instance, use choreographers and movement coaches, even if their movements are designed specifically to look natural. They certainly don't leave this to chance or try to do it themselves. It's not worth it.

For my money, one of the most useful things magicians can do is to latch on to a local theatre group and land a role in a play or musical. Learn how movements are created and developed, how characters evolve, and how directors and choreographers do their work. Talk with actors and dancers and learn how they work their craft. It can be an invaluable experience, and it's free.

Then again, there are also countless colleges that offer theatre classes in the evening; these can be good too, but a lot of it tends to be theory instead of practical experience.
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magicalaurie
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I am an actor and am returning to a college theatre program in the fall. The focus of the program is very practical. My training has helped me immensely in creating my magic show. I agree. Movement should be effective, not excessive. There must be a reason for the action.

Thanks for your replies so far.
Big Daddy Cool
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Movement is a big part of my character development worksheet. But beyond that my shows are very heavy on choreography. Not just dance, but I try to choreograph every move, every gesture. Of course, my minor was directing and choreography.

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roi_tau
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Movement has three main cause in a magic act:

1. Fill the stage. Get the audience's eyes moving. Keep them alert.
2. Misdirection, as Jaz pointed out.
3. Making sure your effect is shown in the best angles. For all spectators.

Have fun!
Roi.
Doctor Whoston
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Roi_tau,

You forgot what comes first:
0. Gaining rapport.

DW
Chrystal
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Hi Laurie,

All excellent replies and comments so far!

I would only like to add that often if a magician uses music to create a mood or theme, then choreographed movements to the music while doing the effect is beautiful to watch. Something to think about should you ever decide to use music in your act.

Chrystal
Dakota Rose
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I absolutely agree with using a professional to help you with your movement. When I was tweaking my Native American Shaman routine, I thought I would try to have a professional actress/choreographer help me. She knows nothing about magic, but it was unbelievable the things that she was able to see, that I couldn't.

Not just in movement around the stage but just to keep me in character. She would say, "How would a "powerful Shaman" react to that object, pick up that object, move with that object?" Or she would say, "That just doesn't make sense to me, why you are doing that?" and we would try to do the move or magic so it did make sense.

I honestly don't think I will ever create a new routine and present it to the public without getting her help first. She added so much more to the overall routine instead of just doing magic tricks.

Dakota Rose
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magicalaurie
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I agree absolutely, Dakota. Gotta have a reason for the action. Great post. Thanks. I'd be interested in seeing your show!

Thanks, Chrystal. Absolutely. I actually do start my show with an effect set to music. The movements are choreographed and it adds great presentation value.

And Dr. Whoston: Definitely. Gaining rapport: #1 BIGTIME.

Please keep the replies coming. I'd love to hear more Smile
Whit Haydn
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I always thought that after reading what Robert-Houdin said, "A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician," the first thing the aspiring magician should do is study to be an actor.

Movement is an extremely important part of acting. I agree with what has been posted above. It is essential for the magician to have outside help on movement and choreography, even if he has studied these subjects exhaustively. It is an incredible help to have a director's or choreographer's objective view of things.

Every step the performer takes on stage should be studied, motivated, planned and practiced until it seems completely unstudied, unplanned and spontaneous.
magicalaurie
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Thank you, Whit. Great advice, as usual Smile.

I agree. Movement is so important in acting and in theatrical performance generally. Many people don't realize just how important it is. This is probably due to the fact that well trained performers move so naturally that the audience doesn't notice the actual work that is being done. But an actor's body is his/her instrument, along with his/her voice. I believe there's always room for more rehearsal.

And I love getting objective feedback from others. They may see things you haven't because they have a different perspective. And a director or choreographer has the tools to help translate the "vision" into movement which will help you convey that vision... Hey, I am in fact an actor playing the part of a magician. Glad to hear I'm on the right track! Smile
bishthemagish
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Vernon once said that the most successful magicians in history were the conversational performers. I have seen performers go a little overboard in this direction.

It is important to be able to move and walk on stage - mime and dance can also help depending on who the performer is and what they are trying to do.

If they are billing themselves as a magician it is not as important as the magic and the eye contact - and the smile and connecting with the audience. Get back to the magic - because we are MAGICIANS!
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magicalaurie
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I believe the audience deserves a well integrated, complete show. Proper movement and choreography is not designed to take away from the magic, but rather to enhance it.

As I and others said above, Gaining rapport: #1. Let's give them a show while we're at it. We're all for magic. We are magicians. I am a magician. But I am also an actor playing the part of a magician Smile

Thankyou Mr. Robert-Houdin, and Mr. Haydn Smile
bishthemagish
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Well said magicalaurie.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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Publisher of Glenn Bishop's Ace Cutting And Block Transfer Triumphs
magicalaurie
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I appreciate that, Glenn. Thank you. Smile
Cliffg37
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For me Laurie, this is a very important issue. I don't stand still very well. My career is a class room teacher and movement holds the kids attention better. On stage though, one absent minded movement could call attention where it is not wanted.

Thanks for starting a great topic.

Cliff
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Both are fun if you do it right!
magicalaurie
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You're very welcome, Cliff. This is a topic that is very important to me. Thanks for your reply.

It's very much about focus. And being aware of and in control of your movements. You mentioned your difficulty standing still. That got me thinking because there are times when stillness is what's required. And that can be very challenging also.
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