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

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Bill Palmer
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In his book The Part Time Pro, Gene Anderson made an interesting statement about magicians. He said something to the effect that "as a magician, we are our own producer, director, writer and choreographer." Then he went on to say that the function of the director was basically to get the actor to move from one place to another on stage without bumping into the furniture. That is, of course, an oversimplification. Directed movement and choreography, if you will, can really enhance a performance.

I saw Max Maven do a show at an IBM convention in Houston, many years ago. I remarked to him about how nicely he moved on stage. His reply was that EVERY STEP in his show was choreographed.

Think about that.

If it's good enough for Max Maven, it should be good enough for all of us.
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magicalaurie
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I agree.
James Adamson
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As others have already said to some extent I believe that there is too much choreography added to a certain sector of magic performers, especially those on T.V. In their willingness to entertain they add too much and for ME it takes away from the performance. Gratuitous additions are not required. But that is from my magicians standpoint watching others perform.

However, I do realize that audiences do sometimes want to see things that I may not think should be included and the ultimate goal is to entertain them. So therefore I have to leave my personal beliefs off the stage.

Michael Ammar had a great thesis on what do you what to be? Basically he stated that you have to realize that be a performer of magic incorporates two things. Show and Business. The Show is what entertains and the Business is want keeps the bills paid. A combination of the two is really the best answer.

I as others have suggested have taken a few lessons and worked with local actor groups and it has helped me not only in my performance of magic but also in my normal everyday interactions with my other fellow humans.

James
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magicalaurie
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Thank you, James. It has helped me in my everyday life as well- IMMENSELY. Smile

I wanted to mention a performance which, in my opinion, incorporates movement and choreography to the enhancement of presentation and effect.

I am a huge fan of Siegfried and Roy, as many may already have noticed. Smile :

Siegfried and Roy performed the Origami Illusion with BRILLIANT choreography. (I've only seen it on video, unfortunately.) Siegfried moves with such precision and elegance (always SO GRACEFUL! Smile ). Roy's pretty precise with the sword, too- he couldn't really afford not to be Smile. I think it's a great example of integral choreography.

I'm pretty sure they've won choreography awards, too. Smile
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One of the best video sets I have taken home from our local library is a set of tapes on Charles Chaplin. The silent film star and comedy entertainer. He is considered to be the best comedian of all time by people like Groucho and others.

This set is a set of films in order and the show how he worked. What he did was come up with an idea, build the set and get the props and then film himself. Then he would watch it - add ideas - film again - watch it - add ideas - film again and so on.

So with each film that he produced and released to the public he did 10 to 20 films of filming and adding ideas to complete the project. So in a way he was his own director and would watch himself over and over again and add writing and bits of business to the story as he went along to make a finished product for the public.

This video set shows that work and how hard he worked just to get one movie right and ready to be released.

I have done this with video after seeing this video set.

Having that third eye - the director can help - even if it is YOU!

But I also feel that all the movement and stage walking should support what a magician does on the stage. If it over shadows the magic or distracts from the magic and the overall entertainment. Then it hurts rather than helps the production.
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George Ledo
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Quote:
On 2005-08-13 22:45, James Adamson wrote:
As others have already said to some extent I believe that there is too much choreography added to a certain sector of magic performers, especially those on T.V.

You're correct. Some current acts seem to have more jumping around than magic.

However, just a minor point of clarification. Choreography doesn't necessarily refer to dance as we usually think of it. A good choreographer can show you how to move well and gracefully and appropriately without ever "dancing" a step.
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James Adamson
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Georgefl38,

I should have clarified the statement further and used more words than just Choreography. I was guilty of lumping all the actions in one word as your clarification pointed out.

James
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Bill Palmer
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What we generally term "blocking" is closely related to choreography. And what do they call someone who works out a stage fight? A fight choreographer.

Ever wonder why some of the best martial artists in the movies were so graceful -- most of them started as dancers -- Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, David Caradine.
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bishthemagish
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Bruce Lee was a child actor then in his teens learned Wing Chung Gung Fu.

Later in his teens he entered and won a Cha Cha dance contest. He opened a martial art school in LA and many stars were his students.

One of his first starring roles in the US was as Kato on the TV series "The green hornet" also staring Van Williams as the green hornet.

He invented his own style of martial art and was on a few episodes of "Long street" and one of the shows was titled "The Way Of The Stopping fist". The English translation of Lee's martial art.

He went on to movies in china then got the offer to do "Enter the dragon". And passed on almost before the movie was released.
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Bill Palmer
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That's completely correct -- Lee Jun Fan (Bruce's Chinese name) -- combined elements of Tae Kwan Do, fencing and other knowledge to create the style in 1968.

I'm almost certain, although this is not mentioned in any of the biographical material I have on him, that his early acting training included at least some basic dance work.
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magicalaurie
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In the dance vein, anyone watching, "So You Think You Can Dance?" I have been and think it's got some good things to offer. Emphasis on discipline, rehearsal, passion and showmanship, connecting, versatility, humility.
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Quote:
On 2005-07-24 16:44, magicalaurie wrote:

Movement is a very important aspect of any theatrical performance.

You are correct. Too often magicians spend time and money on the effect and just throw together the movement and movement can make or break the show.
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magicalaurie
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Movement should be considered a very important, integral part of the show. It is available to us. Why not use it to its full potential? Thankyou all for your posts. I'm back at school right now and will be attending a combined voice and movement class tomorrow. I'm sure I'll be adding more to this thread in the near future. Smile
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I realize this post is a little over two weeks old now, but I wanted to second some of Mick Ayres' comments. I had the pleasure (and honor) last night of attending Max Howard's lecture on presentation, character, and scripting, and it was absolutely inspirational.

If any of you have an opportunity to see this man perform or lecture, do not pass it up. He puts an AMAZING amount of thought into his performances, and it really shows. The effect that Mick was referring to (the checker tube, ultimately turning into a glass of water with a goldfish inside) is really simple and basic, but the story and setting that Max built around it was logical, nuanced, and character driven. Max treats everything he does (even a simple three card monte routine) as a mini-piece of theater, and he challenges each of us to do the same.

Again, check him out if possible. You will learn much.
magicalaurie
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Thankyou, Joe. Will do! Smile
BlackShadow
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I'd like to see more written about the micro movements which are an important part of close up magic. For example, you show your hand empty - just how do you do that? Or the the simple process of displaying an object in a hand. There's a very fine line between too much movement and too little and indeed the right type of movement.

This becomes most apparent when I video my actions. What I thought would look good turns out to be too bouncy or too showy or just not clear enough. But, there's little guidance in the routines themselves for exactly how to do an action. I know people will say that is individual to the performer, and to an extent it is, but there are some groundrules which have to be gleaned from somewhere.

It's these small actions which I think distinguish a memorable close up performance, which looks like real magic, from a mediocre one.
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I was just going to ask how it works with close up. I do not think I grasp a lot of what is said above but I am trying to. I am finding it all very interesting none the less. Thanks.

Tommy
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magicalaurie
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Thankyou both. Regardless of size of motion, I think it's about confidence, intention, focus, control, PRECISION. It is all about awareness and control of one's movements. And how to physicalize psychological action. How to convey the message physically. Consistently with character. You need to know what exactly it is you are trying to convey before you can do so emotionally or physically. Finding the best movement can be trial and error. You can feel it when you've got it right, and you'll be able to see it, too. Any close-up workers care to comment for these gentlemen and myself? It would be greatly appreciated. Great suggestion, guys. Smile
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Quote:
On 2005-09-20 14:12, BlackShadow wrote:
I'd like to see more written about the micro movements which are an important part of close up magic. For example, you show your hand empty - just how do you do that? Or the the simple process of displaying an object in a hand. There's a very fine line between too much movement and too little and indeed the right type of movement...

Try "The Annotated Magic of Slydini" by Ganson. Even if you aren't doing what Sydini did, realizing the *way* he did it is an amazing learning experience. His attention to every body angle and tiny movement will floor you.
BlackShadow
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Thanks for the tip, Otter. I'll definitely look that one out Smile
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