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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Pasteboard Frolics » » Flourishes: Do they take away from the effect or give to it? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Nathan Hastings
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I'm sure that you're all impressed with my spectacularly concise title, but anyway, the age-old question: Do card flourishes really improve the way people look at you as a performer, or when people see you doing actual magic do they recall all the fancy stuff you were doing and just say, "Ah, he just has fast hands." Or, "Oh, it's just sleight of hand. I'm sure you've practiced enough to make it look good."

Now obviously people don't say that out loud, but there's a little internal monologue thingy.

So, what's the deal?
"As my plastic surgeon always said: If you gotta go, go with a smile."

-the Joker
Ogre1234
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Flourishes have their place. ie: a street performer trying to get some attention, auditions, etc. However, when I perform a card trick, I rarely do any flourishy stuff. I like to look natural so that when the magic happens, it's a miracle. I do find that flourishes take away from the effect.

Just my 2 cents worth.
stoneunhinged
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I think it's purely a question of personal style.

Consider doing this: wow a crowd with the fanciest flourishes imaginable, then switch to a marked, stacked, stripper deck. You'll do things they think are totally impossible, because sleight of hand can't explain them...but they *know* you're really good with cards, and assume you are using sleight of hand. They'll burn your hands during an effect where you make no move whatsoever, and later swear they were burning your hands and you made no move whatsoever. Because you didn't. Then you switch decks again and do some flourishing.

They'll find it all magical enough.

Jeff
Kex
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Just my two cents worth. I also agree that you should keep it natural looking... but now and then doing something quick like a cybil cut to reveal a card is nice. I just don't do anything overly fancy or movey and keep it quick and in context with the effect.
rjthomp
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I second Stoneunhinged's comments above:

Flourishes can really add to tricks that are gimmicked or self-working, making them both more entertaining and more mind-boggling.

In short, the more gimmicks you use, the more flourishes you need...

But in a slight of hand show, flourishes should mostly be used for revelations as Kex mentioned, or to show "when the magic happens etc." They occasionally help out with a story too, such as a gambling plot (though a real gambler of course would never go near them).

I guess everyone should suit their own style, but with most flourishes its very easy to cross the line from entertaining to showing off...

-Rob
4Jacks
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They replace any effects.

At least for me.
Joey Stalin
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Most of it is only good to impress other magicians... A flourish can be the act which you convey the magic happens. But if you sit there doing stuff you get from cap cuts or devo then it does take away from the effect.
-A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.
-It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.
-The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.

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PatrickDonovan
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Flourishes can be great misdirection. If you are performing, for example, a one handed shuffle, everybody will be looking at that. Then it's time to ditch, load, or whatever else is needed. I always like to keep things simple and to the point, but I think if your personality is right, flourishing could add to your act. It's just another weapon in the arsenal, if you use it right it can be devastating, but if you use it wrong you're going to end up hurting your routine.
neoepicurus
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Depends on the rest of your character as a performer. It's all about consistency in my opinion. If you do a lot of flourishes, you can be "impressive" as opposed to "magical". If you do no flourishes, you'll create a magical memory for the spectator BUT they may not think of you much in terms of SKILL. I tend to keep my flourishy effects for sets of quick tricks... but for my longer effects, I keep them flourish-free so that specs don't feel I'm capable of doing sleight of hand, making the effects more believable.
Hawk-Eye
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It depends on what you call "flourishes".

In performance, I have no problem doing a pressure fan, ballet cut, ribbon spread etc. to add to the magic. However, there's no way you'd see me doing a crazy fast 5 packet rotation cut and then revealing the spectator's card is on top.

So, I think doing some of the flourishes that flourishERS/XCMers might do (eg. sybil cuts, flipback fan etc.) can take away from the magic.

At the same time, I think this notion of handling the cards sloppily like a layperson might, is absolutely ridiculous. As magicians, we do most things differently to other people...I don't see why card handling should be any different. It's all about balance.
neoepicurus
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Sloppiness is not completely ridiculous if you do it for comical or magical effect. Watch Lennart Green for example.
Hawk-Eye
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That's true - Green uses sloppily handling to his advantage with his comedic persona.

However, a lot of the time I see people with no real comical persona or anything, decide to handle the cards sloppily 'to make the audience less suspicious'. I've even heard of professionals refraining from doing a simple card fan, so as not to give a hint of the skills they possess.

I handle the cards very smoothly when I perform...no matter what you tell your spectators, ultimately they know that it's YOU causing the magic to happen.
rhucko1
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Sometimes I like to do a flourish then say, "ok, ok, enough of the easy stuff..." - it usually gets a chuckle and is a nice way to get a response from the audience. It never seemed to hurt the magical nature of any of the subsequent effects either.

I do find that sometimes less is more in regards to not only magic, but in regards to using flourishes to add to the magic.

Thanks,
Rich
"Card experts agree that the colour change, or transformation, is one of the most magical effects possible with a pack of cards."
- Dai Vernon's Tribute to Nate Leipzig by Lewis Ganson & Dai Vernon
Ken Sibley
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In the beginning of a routine, flourishes help establish credibility. In between tricks, a flourishes or two (in order to arrange a stack, get a peek, etc...) can set you up for the next trick. Just don't over-do it.
Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand!
harapanong
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I once explored how flourishes can be used in magic effectively, so I entered the flourishing world and learnt how to do them. It was an in-field study, and here are some thoughts I have.

Who said you have to use a lot? Flourishes in magic doesn't mean behind the back armspread catches or 30 packet Bad Habit Cuts (whatever). Flourishes in magic simply mean - GOOD HANDLING OF CARDS. That's all it is! It's just a subtle touch to the movements you make with a deck of cards. It's not meant to be done as a stand-alone thing.

Let me give an example:

When you turn over a card on top of the deck (e.g. revealing a card on top), instead of turning it over plainly, you may add a flourishy touch by adding a Card Pirouette.

Another example:

Instead of spreading the cards out between both hands to let spectators pick a card, do a Pressure Fan.

Do flourishes takes things away from magic? YES, if done wrongly. The "correct" way of doing flourishes in magic is about where you put them, and how much you put into your magic.

1. Flourishes in magic should be subtle, almost existing in the background. Like a lot of people said, people may remember the fancy stuff and forget the magic. Flourishes are just embellishments and fine touches to how you handle a deck of cards, NOT a performance piece. Magic foreground, flourishes background. They won't notice conciously that you're doing fancy stuff, but subconciously they know you're good with cards.

2. Put them in places where there's not exactly any magic happening. For example, selecting cards isn't very magical, so use it there. Making a card magically rise to the top by itself is magicial, so don't do a fancy cut, or they'll think its the cut that made it come on top. But then again, flourishes used as productions are very useful. But a general rule of thumb for me is that use flourishes when no magic is happening.

I never subscribe to the "sloppy handling makes them think its real magic" school of thought. Sloppy handling won't make any audience think its real magic. Instead, as someone has mentioned, flourishes can gain credibility for yourself in a stranger's eyes as someone who is professional and skilled in what you do.

Will flourishes make people think magic is about sleight of hand? Maybe, but it's up to your style. My style is more "magic's just tricks and fast hands, but you'll like it" instead of "i'm doing real magic", so flourishes fit me well. But remember: if flourishes are used properly in proper contexts (mentioned above), they wouldn't link magic with fast hands.

I am personally comfortable with people saying my magic is about fast hands and sleights, because that's what I wish to portray to my audience.

Experiment around. Actually learn some flourishes and try using them before making a judgement.

- harapan. magic!
skinnyJon
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I think it is important to keep flourishes in the context of your performance. Ultimately we are entertainers and there is a place for showing off your manipulation skills. In my (limited) experience, the spectator already thinks you are doing something tricky/sleighty with the cards, why insult their intelligence by pretending to be inept unless it is withing the confines of a comedic routine?
skinnyJon
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I think it is important to keep flourishes in the context of your performance. Ultimately we are entertainers and there is a place for showing off your manipulation skills. In my (limited) experience, the spectator already thinks you are doing something tricky/sleighty with the cards, why insult their intelligence by pretending to be inept unless it is withing the confines of a comedic routine?
Art190
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I think it shows your skill and that you have been doing magic a long time. I think it adds.

Art
Art190
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"If something deserves praise, give it."

I agree with what Mark said.
sean_mh
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When this topic came up on another forum, I decided that I would defer to my buddies Hugard and Braue, discussing flourishing in RRTCM:

from p. xvii of the Preface:

"Complete naturalness of action, speech and manner is the essence of the art. There is a school of card conjuring in which the artist, by the mere rapidity of his actions, attempts to impress his audience with the great skill he possesses. We urge you to eschew this type of card work and instead strive at all times for a natural, relaxed, graceful handling of the cards."

from p . 37 (III: Flourishes):

"Used in moderation [flourishes] are a decided asset to the card conjuror, but when carried to extreme lengths they defeat the very object that the magician should always have in mind, namely, that the effects he produces are done by magic and not by skill. A series of brilliant flourishes leaves only the impression of juggling skill on the minds of the onlookers, and the performer's feats are dismissed by them with the remark, 'He's clever with his hands'."



Sean
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