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Bill Palmer
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Generally speaking, the farther you are from your audience, the larger the movements must be. If you are working close-up, you can point with your finger. If you are on stage, you should point with your whole hand.

This is sometimes referred to as "scale."

Ever wonder why most circus jugglers don't juggle baseballs or lacrosse balls? They juggle clubs and rings instead. Why? So the audience can see them.
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magicalaurie
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Very true. Another good point made by Mr. Palmer. Thanks, Bill. Smile
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Yes, PROPER movement is extremely important, yet MOST "magicians" continue to focus on their "tricks" and not their performance too. Their shows are performed as one trick after another trick (…”and now for my next trick”…) and not an entertaining show of true theatrical performance.

I vividly recall emailing a friend and mentor of ours Howie Schwartzman after I performed what I thought was a “good” and entertaining trick. I asked him what he thought about the trick I “performed”, his email came back to me with one word…

“UNFORGETTABLE”.

Of course I thought there must be some mistake…after all I had delivered a real miracle and my performance was fun and amazing. The following week while eating lunch with Howie I commented about his “lengthy” email…he shrugged his shoulders and said something to the effect of …“I call them as I see them”.

Howie is one of ONLY a few people (magicians) who will actually tell you, you’re magic/performance sucks!!!

This is sad.

How will up and coming magicians (or seasoned pro's) know they are performing “right or wrong” if no one tells us the truth. Who cares if it hurts my feelings (this is momentary), what about five, ten, fifteen or fifty years down the road when I am still demonstrating ‘the move' wrong?????

Movement is very important!!! Work on this, proper movement will help take your current “show” to another level. You will notice this and so will your audiences!!!

Read and then re-read: “Maximum Entertainment” by Ken Weber

Joe Farina is another close friend and mentor who served on staff at the magic castle in Hollywood, CA and is a regular performer at the “Four F’s” magic convention for some time (Joe and Howie can OFTEN be seen together exchanging moves and theories).

Joe looked at my act and before allowing me to get past my opening, stated …”why in the world would you open with that? That is not an opening effect. You should have this in the middle of your show and this should be your opening, etc.”

Note: Another fellow magician who has his own headline show was talking with Joe while I was there a few weeks ago. This magician is very good with what he delivers, he showed Joe what he was opening with and Joe “corrected” him by showing him why what he was using was the wrong item to use in his opening. This magician said, ahhh, I see what you are saying. This makes so much sense I have been doing this the wrong way for a long time (and no other magicians who have come to my sold out shows have ever brought this to my attention. Either they were afraid to correct a headline act and or they do not know what is “proper” either).

Who are Joe and Howie (and why would I listen to them)?:

Farina is classically trained via the Chavez school of magic (Joe was Marian Chavez 's last student). He is first class magic all the way. When Joe performs, it is just this, a performance. http://joefarinamagic.blogspot.com

Howie Schwartzman won magician of the year 2007 and is known for his much praised “Star Warp”. Howie is a truly entertaining performer and not to “shabby” with a deck of cards.

Quote:
On 2005-07-24 16:44, magicalaurie wrote:
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?


Click here to view attached image.
David Breth
Big Daddy Cool
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Quote:
On 2005-07-26 16:18, roi_tau wrote:
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.


None of the above should be the first consideration to choreographing movement - choreography should first help tell the story...
We'll catch ya on the Back of the Cereal Box!
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George Ledo
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Okay, time to throw in my five cents' worth... that's two cents adjusted for inflation over the last few years...

Stage movement (crossing from here to there and stopping here for two beats) is what we call blocking: what the actors do as they move around to look natural as they act out a story. Choreography generally refers to dance movements. And yes, there's a lot of overlap in the two, so there's no point in splitting hairs.

However, we can generally say that both blocking and choreography are motivated by something: blocking is where a character needs to go over there to get something from a table, or to open the door, or whatever. Choreography refers to how the dancers move in order to get the message in the story (the point behind the dance) across to the audience.

But both are motivated by something specific relating to the story, or the theme, or the message, or whatever we choose to call it. It's not just movement for movement's sake. By far the best blocking and choreography ever seen on stage are those that look so natural that they're transparent to the audience, like as in "of course the character had to do this or that in order to go on with the story." Acting classes spend a lot of time (sometimes humorously so) in discussing motivation, and acting students spend a lot of time learning to discover why they go from here to there or why they stay sitting on the sofa.

And if you think some of the discussions here go on forever, you should listen in on some advanced acting classes. Smile Pass the eyelid retractors, please.

The real question is why: why do we do this or that? If we can show that there's a logical reason for doing something, it'll look natural. Otherwise it'll look contrived... and it'll be distracting. Dance can be just as much "showing technique for technique's sake" as sleight of hand. And it can be just as boring.
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magicalaurie
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Yes. Page 1. Smile
magicalaurie
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Quote:
On 2005-09-25 11:41, Laughing Otter wrote:
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.


Another book for my list. About time I got to Slydini. Smile
I'm focusing a lot on close-up work right now and am very intrigued by close-up choreography. As we've discussed, it's a matter of scale, but I find the smaller scale and it's comparison to the larger scale very very interesting.
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Quote:
On 2010-04-23 09:48, magicalaurie wrote:
I'm focusing a lot on close-up work right now and am very intrigued by close-up choreography. As we've discussed, it's a matter of scale, but I find the smaller scale and it's comparison to the larger scale very very interesting.


I consider the table, close-up mat, etc. a miniature stage of sorts. Using the principles of theatrical directing and stagecraft, I block the location of the props on the "stage" (and my hands as well) and choreograph their movement (including entrances and exits) the same way I block and choreograph a stand-up routine.
edh
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Thanks George, that is an insightful post.

I have always wanted to know what blocking mean't. Come to find out I have been doing this all along without realizing what the correct term for it was. Smile

My guess would be that that is what Vernon mean't when he said to "be natural".
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Here's a tricky area for me. I already know Im going to upset, confuse or just complicate things for some people.

Watching magicians and their assistants ( also actors, singers, musicians, etc) executing choreography can and usually is painful to the eye. "Execute" in the killing sense of the word.

If the magician (or non-dancer assistant) has choreographed the sequences themselves the choreography is usually to blame. Watching MTV Video hits/old Fred Astaire films or going to watch a ballet isn't going to educate you enough. Sorry but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Just because you know the recipe doesn't mean it'll be okay to make your own flash paper.

Sometimes the choreography is beyond the capability of the performer. Dancers generally choreograph for other dancers. They think in terms of displaying technique. A non dance-educated stage performer trying to do high kicks, lay outs and pirouettes are embarrassing. So even when the performer has done "the right thing" and hired a professional to do the job, it still takes away from the performance.

And while we are on the choreographer trying to display their knowledge of dance technique we can discuss their understandng of why they are putting together dance steps. Dancing within an illusion show requires a certain style. Strapping on pointe shoes maybe isn't right for the particular illusion but neither is getting all "Marha Graham" and examining the psychological delicacies of "why the magician wants to pick up the third sword."

The dancing should enhance the routine and aid in the magician's misdirection. You may have to expose certain elements of the illusion to your choreographer so that they understand how to choreograph around the technical necessities of the illusion. So find someone you can trust.

Spend more time (and maybe even money) than you believe is needed to find the choreographer for you. Even when its all been set and rehearsed, find a second and third opinion on how it looks. Remember, just because you feel exciting and talented whilst dancing, it doesn't mean that's how it looks!!!

Mucha Merde

Griffin
magicalaurie
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Hi Griffin,

Thanks for posting. I think we're in agreement, here.



Also, Aug 14, 2005 9:11am, I wrote:
Quote:

...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! ). Roy's pretty precise with the sword, too- he couldn't really afford not to be . I think it's a great example of integral choreography.

I'm pretty sure they've won choreography awards, too.


I've since found a clip:
SARMOTI! Smile
magicalaurie
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Here's an earlier clip of Siegfried and Roy. mtpascoe has posted it in the Grand Illusion forum:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u3er3EqAR4
George Ledo
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If you're going to dance on stage, take dance lessons first. There's a huge difference between dancing and doing dance steps.

I took ballroom lessons for years and it was amazing how some people actually danced, while others memorized the physical moves and repeated them like robots. I never figured out if the problem was not "understanding" what dance is, or just a lack of ability, but it was (sometimes very painfully) obvious on the floor.

There are lots of types of dancing (ballroom, ballet, hip hop, jazz, tap, cabaret, modern, and so on and on) and lots of teachers and coaches out there. If you're going to do it on stage, consider a couple of years of lessons as an investment.
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longhaired1
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I would suggest dance lessons even if you aren't going to dance on stage. It's a great way to learn how to walk on stage.
magicalaurie
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Breakdancing gorilla

This video got me thinking this week. I wasn't previously aware of a gorilla's natural dancing talent and skill. The above is not a fluke. I looked around and found several more very impressive examples. Of course some video commentators speculate the animals are going insane in captivity- "Do you think that's a natural behaviour?!?!?!" et cetera. As a matter of fact, yes I think it just might be. Why not? Why not? Why not? Yes. I asked the question 3 times. Smile It's not surprising to me that animals learn to move in naturally efficient coordinated manners. They listen to their bodies.

I looked around on the net a little for some info, suspecting it may have to do with nest building or something similar, but it may be a more general natural behaviour. The only significant reference I've found so far is the following. Might have to pick up some Goodall or Fossey references.


http://scienceray.com/biology/zoology/dance-monkey-dance/

tiny dancer Smile
magicalaurie
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Brad Burt
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It was pointed out to me years ago by a friend that the reason David Copperfield's Dancing Cane routine looked so good was because David had had a ton of training AS a dancer. One of the things I have always liked about his performance in general is the fluid manner in which he moves on stage. It's amazingly unforced, etc.

Best,
Brad Burt
Ray Pierce
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Great thoughts as always Brad. The reason to train in dance isn't necessarily to dance on stage but to give you greater kinesthetic awareness and more comfort and control of your body on stage. Many people knew I studied dance (from about 12 years old on) as well but not all knew I danced professionally with the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet Company for about 3 years in the late 70's. Just because we don't use something visibly on stage doesn't mean the techniques aren't in use.
Ray Pierce
magicalaurie
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Thanks for posting.

Laurie
magicalaurie
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I don't generally do big, bold movement or use the whole stage for movement. In terms of magic, I do mostly close-up from a fixed location. Being back at school this year in a brand new 1 year Performing Arts program, I'm working on a rigorous project to get me out of that movement "comfort zone". I've posted mention of this in a couple other locations, hoping some might be interested in telling me what they think. It seems appropriate to place it here, as well. Some might say it's not magical, but that depends highly on your definition, and it fits mine just fine. Smile



I think this can work if I be me, singing the song, hopefully with a band, back up singers- I pitched the project in class today and it's a go, fellow musicians seem interested! I will do the moves as precisely as I can without hurting myself, I hope. Smile But I will keep my hair and I will wear a red shirt in keeping with the style, black pants- stylistically appropriate, too- and shoes. I could go barefoot, I suppose, but I think I'll stick with shoes. I know I can't be Elvis and I think that's where impersonators fall short. I think an impression is a different story, an inspiration, an influence, and I'll do my homework with the choreography which is a big reason for doing this piece.
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