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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » Some thoughts on creating a manipulation routine. (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Geoff Weber
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Study what is in print and video and make note of what moments/moves impressed you, (more from a conceptual/construction point of view than from the technical proficiency which you may have seen it demonstrated.)

Prioritize your practicing around the moves you feel will be the key moves of your routine. Conversely, structure your routine to highlight the moves with which you are most proficient.

Moves that you find cumbersome and difficult can be mastered with persistence. 90% of the difficulty you encounter when trying to master a new manipulation move is due to lack of finger strength and flexibility. The muscles have to be trained to move in ways in which they are not yet accustomed.

Your sequence should have an attention-grabbing opener, the middle should escalate progressively in scale/impressiveness, and you should finish with a dazzling closer.

You should move your whole body. Don’t just stand there stiffly and produce cards from your right hand. You have a left hand too.. And arms. Legs, a face. Everything should be a part of the act. React to what is happening.

Your routine should have concept running through it. An idea that you are trying convey to the audience. What is the intentionality behind the moves? What is your silent script you are thinking to yourself as you perform each part?
alextsui
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Malaysia
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Great post, Geoff. The hardest part for me is finding the concept to connect all the different effects together.
MagicSA
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Good point Alextsui! I have never been good with sleight of hand, and often you succeed with one move (after a lot of practice!), but putting together a whole act can be challenging.
ROBERT BLAKE
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First learn and read as much possible about the object. I am working on thimbles now. reading every book possible. look youtube for videos. during this see what you like most and make a mental note from that.

2nd: see what you have got and what you like. then ask your self what you like about it. in my case I saw the video of gerard majax: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elZvVJ_xCV4

what did I like? just a thimble, nice color change and playfull.

3rd: from all these informations you create some "rules". my case just 2 thimble - dropped in left pocket - short and playfull (like majax) and be surrounded in close up situation so I can produce thimbles from behind childrens ears.

4th: now I have to see what I like and how it fits. this is the puzzle moment

5th: show it to people and see what gets the best reactions.

so in basic steps:

1) information learning

2) what I like and why

3) form a vision (your rules)

4) create routine (the puzzle)

5) gather exsperiences
gallagher
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My Routine happened to me slightly differently.....
I say, "happened to me,..".
because I wasn't planning on one,
when it started.

I enjoyed rolling a coin, across my knuckles,.
still do(!).
While doing it, for a few years,
things started developing,..
I continued developing.
I believe, by avoiding what is done,..
'what's allowed"(?),
I've developed innovative stuff,
...stuff I can do.
Sure, I've probably re-invented Edison's Light Bulb,
three times along the way(!),
but....

I started just with the basic roll,..
over and over and over,...
I swear, this IS the root of the creativity.
Repetitive practise of a basic Discipline.

Another important step, was/is notebook.
I record my practise sessions,
AND I give names and discribe WHAT comes to me,..
I capture it on paper.
(This is essential,..Defining it,..in your mind,..
and giving it a name.)

I didn't worry or think about a routine,..
again,
at first,
it was purely a pleasure thing,
As I started thinking of a 'routine',
"moves" flowed together,..
slowly,..
slowly,..
slowly,..
but they fit(!()
The really fit.
I didn't film myself,..
or calculate the moves at all.
A routine came together,
that I feel,...flows.
Then came the repetetive work, again.
Numbers, numbers,...numbers.

(It's still teaching me, but one interesting thing was:
I must learn to do something Fast,
before I can master Slowness,..Smoothness.
I find this interesting)

Another interesting thing,
while pracitising,
I start telling myself,
"Enough practise,
let's go try it."
The fruit might be ripe,..
I might be a fool,...
I'll keep in touch,
gallagher

p.s.: Re-reading this,
two points,
from me.
1.) Creativity/Originality is important AND possible.
2.) I must feel good about what is happening in the 'routine',
This "feel good", is something inside me,...
MY 'feel good'.
ROBERT BLAKE
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Gallagher, this "feel good" is important. when you do something you know it fits you or not. sometimes you have to tweak it a bit to get it right but you know it is good for you.
RJH
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Finland
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Gallagher, great post. I'm in the point in my manipulation where I'm finally starting to look and find that ''feel good''. I have competed for 2 years and been successful in those competitions, but I was never comfortable with what I was performing... So now I have finally decided that I will find that style and that ''feel good'' that fits me.

Long journey ahead... Wish me luck! Smile

RJH
Harry Murphy
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Wonderful thoughts given on this thread. One of my favorite, fairly contemporary manipulation acts is Oquz Engin (saw him in Europe but believe he is from Turkey).

I believe his short act exemplifies the thoughts and ideas presented by Geoff and discussed here.

Oguz Engin;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUqSv_ABugo
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Dick Oslund
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Beautiful to watch! Delightful "eye candy"! (here comes the "but":) What venue would book this type of act? Cruise ships...Casinos...yes. But, how many "would be magicians" who have a wife, three kids, a mortgage, and a car payment, could get that kind of work?

When I was 18, I wore the "standard" white tie and tails. I did split fans coins, balls,etc. I did the Downs palm,with both hands, producing coins that were dropped in a champagne glass. I did the five coin star with both hands simultaneously. ETC.!

I was in the NAVY, and, an agent in Norfolk, VA set me for a try out (IN A KIWANIS CLUB LUNCHEON MEETING!) No music! (in those days, 78rpm records were the only source.)No place to dress in the tie and tails! (I worked in a sport coat, slacks, and white gloves!)

The audience (all men at a noon luncheon) were appreciative, but, it was obvious that the act was "out of place"!

The agent,who caught the act, said, "That was very nice, BUT, can't you make 'em laugh?" I said, "I think I can." He said, "Make 'em laugh, and, I'll get you work!"

I did, and he did. I dumped the tie and tails, and the white gloves, and started making 'em laugh. For the next four years, I sent my Navy pay checks home to the bank,and "lived" on the show money. I've never looked back.

My act/show is filled with manipulative material, BUT! I can do it almost anywhere,for almost anybody. --and, I've never been "at liberty"!

Ken Brooke,writing in his, "It's Better Than Digging Roads", said, in his advice to young fellows (I'm paraphrasing): "Develop an act that you can set in a FEW minutes, and do anywhere!"

If you enjoy practicing and perfecting manipulative "magic", great! (The members of Ring 103 in Norfolk,back in 1951,thought I was a "god". Here comes that "but",again! >>> But, those members never booked me for a paying date! (They were happy to have me on the ring's public shows, though!)

If you wish to "compete" in convention or club contests (where act time is strictly limited)fine! Just don't expect to find paying dates for that kind of act.

A few years ago, at lunch with Jon Racherbaumer in New Orleans, Jon showed me a magazine article. --Not a magic magazine! The article made the point that in the not too distant future, novelty performers who could involve and interact with the audience (on stage,and ALSO with the audience still seated and watching.) would have work, while those who presented a "watch me do this clever stuff!" would have lots of time "between jobs". I was glad that I listened to Blackie Norton back in 1951!

P.S. A ten minute manipulative act MIGHT find work in cruise ships, and casinos. (Vaudeville type programs don't exist, except perhaps in European cabarets.)Most clients are looking for 45 minutes (or more).

Sorry if I've rained on your parade, but, to make a living performing, ya gotta have a service or product that is SALABLE.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Harry Murphy
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Oh I totally agree with you Dick! You're not raining on anyone's parade. Geoff was talking about developing a routine (as opposed to an act). I must admit I linked Oguz's "act" as illustrative of the points. Any of the segments within the act could be a stand alone routine and could be included in a different kind of total act. Which, by the way, is exactly what Oguz does. He has a number of talking acts where he might include one of those segments. I've seen his more recent forays on Turkey's Got Talent TV show. He included his shrinking card segment to great effect. Not pure manipulation by any stretch of the imagination to be sure. Oguz is accomplished across the board. The French TV, variety show, segment link does illustrate the points made above, is very upbeat, engaging (his personality really projects). Watching it makes me long for the old cabaret and night-club days (which were dying when I was born and gone when I was a budding performer).

Sadly (or maybe not so sadly) this type of eye-candy act is very, very limited as a stand-alone act outside of magic convention competitions. I think short, manipulative, segments can work in the venue's you mentioned. I also believe that every act could benefit from a few minutes of pure eye-candy. Even close-up and walk-around performers benefit from tossing in a manipulation bit. Monk Watson (amongst others) once told me to start my show/act, be it close-up or platform (whatever) with some show-off, dexterity, bits to demonstrate/prove to the audience I had the skills/chops. He said then almost anything will pass for pure skill.

I guess it might be said that the hayday of pure manipulative magic acts is pretty much gone. Venues that employ those acts are vanishing. Heck the days of the magic spectacular is on the wane. I honestly don't know where variety acts go to survive. Fairs, festivals, and cruise ships, may be their last hurrah!!

As an afterthought Oguz Engin's Ball Routine segment is about 2 minutes long, give or take a second or two, and can be done pretty much surrounded without flashing. It would work (does work) on the street as a bit of flash to help build the crowd. Supreme sold a similar version called "Rainbow Balls". It looks as if it might be the basis for this routine...maybe. Just saying.

Looking at each segment as a routine; the Shrinking Card was approximately 1 minute 20 seconds (give or take a second), the Card Manipulation was approximately 2 minutes to the ending of double card fans between the silk, and the Card Scaling finale was about 35 seconds. I'd say look at each segment as a stand-alone routine that could enhance a stand-up act, fit a performing persona, and enhance the show.

I don't know where magicians go to be bad and learn their craft anymore. The streets? kid shows in living rooms? One doesn't hone magic in front of a mirror (or video camera) it is a performance art and takes performing a piece to get it refined.

Heck, where do comedians go to hone their skills now that comedy clubs are all but dead?!?
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Dick Oslund
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I think we agree Harry!

As an old "finger flinger", I really enjoyed and appreciated Oguz's performance. And, I agree with your comments about segments of his act that can be used in a longer act which also has material that has interaction with the audience. I, too, liked the way he projects his personality.

I think that thee and me were both born too late! I would have loved to work in vaudeville! Associating with old vaudeville artist,Dorny, was always a happy experience. (Over a sandwich, and a bottle of wine at the Zum Deutchen Eck" in Chicago, I listened often to hours of his stories.

Yup! Monk Watson was another of the old pro's. whose friendship I was privileged to have. (When we first met in Norfolk, in the '50s, he was doing a corporate date. I went backstage to visit briefly before he worked. He recruited me to do the bent linking ring bit. "We" were a hit! I was in my early '20s. He had been a BIG act years before I was born. I listened! His advice was sound! "Open with some "skill stuff"!" --for the same reasons he said that to you! IT WORKS! My show is heavy with "hand magic". I've learned from experience how to make those skills fun to watch! E.g.: I started out at 17, doing the John Booth routine for the multiplying balls. It was nicely received. Then, I added Percy Abbott's "Perpetual Balls" and, Bill Williston's "Penetrating ball thru a silk". Over some months I realized that the "Perpetual Ballsl" and, the "Penetrating Ball" got LAUGHS that the "XXXing Balls" didn't. I dropped the "XXXing Balls" and, the ball routine, especially for the little kids, is one of the strongest bit I do! (High school audiences like it too (just a bit more subdued!).

Mark Leddy (Jay Marshall's agent) and talent consultant for the ED SULLIVAN TV SHOW was at Abbott's some years ago, He said,"There's no place left to be lousy in."
What he meant was, as you say, "Where do new acts go to break in"? ("Venues that employ those acts are vanishing!" (now, they're GONE!)

I decided to work in the LYCEUM FIELD. I could do a lot of manipulative tricks, and sell them, by talking, and using situation comedy. For almost 50 years, I was never really at liberty.

I'm happy to hear that Oguz apparently understands how to "mix" different manipulative routines with other types of tricks and routines so that he can get work in other areas besides casinos and cabarets.

Sophocles said it a few millenia ago: "One learns by DOING the thing!" I was fortunate to be able to work in a medium where I had steady work, --and plenty of it!
Doing 13 to 15 shows per week, I was able to try out, and polish material. Because of the types of bookings, I had to produce a show that could work almost anywhere, for almost anyone. --This allowed me to get bookings in the off season, for corporate events, hospitality suites, fund raising shows, etc.

I hope we get to meet when I lecture and "sign books" at Denny's in Baltimore on 26 September.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
elmago
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After you learn all your favorite moves from various sources, you have to tell a story. If you string a bunch of moves together for the sake of moves, your act may look cool, but feel very empty. And the novelty will start to wear off if the audience is not emotionally hooked. Since most manipulation acts are silent, as in the magician does not speak, elements of the story have to be told by costume, the music, the setting, the lighting, and any visual prop that paints a picture for the audience. Who could forget Lance Burton's street light? Unfortunately, as an artist, you may have to cut out your favorite move for the sake of the routine. Sometimes the logistics, or the stars, don't line up right. But in the words of Jeff McBride, "Limitations inspire creativity." Creating a manipulation routine is both rewarding and frustrating.
"Excellence is not a single act; it's a habit" Shaq quoting Aristotle after winning NBA MVP.
Anatole
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Sometimes acts just have to eovlve in a process similar to growing pains.. Even an act as great as Cardini's went through that process. I'll quote Dai Vernon here from an interview conducted by Roger Sherman back in 1979:
-----quote----
Sherman: How about stage? Who would you say was the best stage performer?

Vernon: Cardini had the best act when he was young and at the height of his fame. Incidentally, I influenced him a great deal because I made him stop talking... He would say "I taught this trick to the King of Siam. He said, 'Mr. Cardini, you are very clever.' 'Yes, I am.'" That was one of his gags, and I said, 'Listen, you do such beautiful stuff. What do you talk for? You make a !@#$%^& of yourself.'--He said, "Oh, I get my laughs." I said, "You don't get any laughs at all." Finally, when we were both working for Billy Rose, I told him: "Cut out the talking!" Billy Rose said, "Listen to what Vernon tells you. He's giving you good advice." After that, he became a great star. He never would have been a great star if he hadn't stopped talking. He had the finest, most perfect act that was ever created. Nobody ever approached him.
-----unquote-----

Part of the lesson to be learned from that anecdote is: "Listen to the advice of friends whose opinion you respect."

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
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