Kae:Combining Magic with Contact

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[edit] Combining Magic with Contact Juggling

Many people think that contact juggling is a magic trick when they first see it, and most contact jugglers go to great pains to point out that not only is it not a trick, but that anyone can do it! This is one of the main differences between magic and contact juggling – magic is traditionally a secret art, and contact juggling is openly taught. In this chapter, I’ll show how to combine some easy magic effects with contact juggling. A lot of people do not like the idea of putting magic into their contact juggling, as it somehow makes it all look like magic, and in the process, belittles the skill needed to perform it. I believe, though, that a great contact juggling routine is about the routine itself – not the performer’s skill. As I said way back at the beginning of the book, my first experience of contact juggling was of a guy in a nightclub, who had a lot of skill, but no “stage presence”. Magic is all about stage presence; without the ability to direct (or misdirect) the audience’s attention, it just doesn’t work! Good contact jugglers that use magic in their routines include the UK’s Silver, and Canada’s Matt (chat with them at contactjuggling.org).


[edit] Through the Body

This move involves an element of misdirection. It is incredibly easy to perform, but will only work right if you have the misdirection down pat. Start by performing a few rolling moves using the hands and arms. Use a few passes, and always watch the movement of the ball very obviously (this is part of the magic). The effect of the trick is that you finally pass from the right hand to the left (or left to right – whatever), bring the ball around behind your back, and push it through your body to appear in the right hand! The secret to the trick is in the watching – if the audience pays attention to what you pay attention to, then you can fool them into seeing something that’s not there. The final pass, from the right hand to the left, is not actually a pass at all. You simply act as if you are passing, and instead, press the ball against your chest with the right wrist (to show the right hand is empty), and cup your left hand as if it has received the ball. Next, you quickly move the left hand behind the back (so the audience doesn’t catch on), and move as if to press the ball into the spine. Use a lot of body movement to accentuate the move. A second or so after you have done the pressing, with the left hand still behind the back, pull your right hand back to grab the ball and bring it forward. Because the audience has been watching what you watch, they see the ball pass through your body. You don’t even need to be completely smooth about this! One magic rule that I would recommend sticking to is never to over-repeat a move; if you repeat a move too often, the audience will see through the trick. On the other hand, if you repeat it once or twice immediately after each other, the audience will not have time to know what to look for. A usual-sized person can do this with a ball that’s up to about 3” in diameter.

[edit] Colour Change

For this trick, it’s best to use balls that are just smaller than the width of your palm. For me, that means 2.5” balls. The smaller the ball, the easier the move, but the harder it is for the audience to see what’s happening, so make sure to use the biggest balls that you can. You should have a pouch for your balls held on the right (one of the Ferret’s pouches is perfect – as him about them at contactjuggling.org). The effect is that you show a coloured ball in the left open fist hold, wipe your right hand over it, and it is suddenly a different colour. The method is simple, but you must practice it to get it smooth – the tiniest sound or pause in the wrong moment might break the spell. First off, you should have a bit of body movement in your routine, so it doesn’t look strange when you turn 90 degrees to the right and your right hand is not visible. When you have turned to the right, the first ball should be in the left hand – bring it up into a long hold, such as a stretched 3-Finger Hold. Keep your eyes on the ball while doing this, this distracts the audience while you dip your right hand into the pouch by your right side and bring out ball two in a Thumb Hold, keeping it hidden. Now, turn 180 degrees to the left, bringing the first ball down into the Open Fist Hold. To the audience, this is a stylish thing, so they still don’t know what’s going on. The right hand is held so it’s ball is hidden. Keep the hand kind of loose, so it looks like a natural empty hand. Looking intently at the first ball, bring the right hand up, and sit its ball right next to it, further up towards the wrist. Push the second ball towards the first, and pick up the first ball in the Thumb Hold as the second ball reaches the first ball’s original position. All the action is done with the palm and thumb muscles – the audience should see no finger movement. Continue the wiping motion to reveal the “magically” colour-changed ball, and immediately swing it around to show the audience closer, giving you a moment to drop the original ball into the pouch. Alternatively, you could keep the original ball hidden, to reveal it momentarily, as if you have just produced two balls out of one.

[edit] Scarf Balance

This is an adaptation of the “Zombie Ball” trick (a magic trick) that needs nothing other than a ball and scarf (and a lot of perseverance). The original trick involved a stick with a ball stuck to the end of it. It could be worthwhile looking it up to see if you can get a better adaptation out of it than I did. Basically, the zombie ball involved a ball that rolled along a scarf, ducked under it, and seemed to float at some points. I haven’t found a way to emulate most of it, but the rolling along the scarf can be done. Get a loan of a scarf from an audience member. It should ideally be very strong, and made of a thin material. Just in case, keep one with your other props. The secret to balancing the ball on the edge, is that you don’t actually balance the ball on the edge… you create a flat area that you can see but the audience can’t, and you balance it there. Hold one corner of the scarf at the base of the left thumb with the left ring finger. The left edge of the scarf is then held stretched between that point and the extreme tip of the thumb (between the thumb and index finger), and the rest of the edge dangles down. Hold the right side of the scarf in the same way in the right hand. When you stretch your hands apart, you will see that a large flat area, about three-four inches in width appears. With a lot of tension on the scarf, you can roll a ball back and forth along this area. Ideally, the scarf should be plain (no pattern), so the audience can’t see that there is part of it not shown to them. With a lot of practice at this, you can narrow the width needed, by holding the corners further up towards the thumb. With an extreme amount of practice with the above method, you can use a different method using a string and a scarf…

[edit] Sleight Of Hand

The effect with this one is that you have a ball in the left 3-Finger Hold, you take it with your right hand, and then you open the right hand to show that the ball has vanished. You should practice this in front of a mirror in order that you get the angles and actions right. Hold a ball in the left 3-Finger Hold. The hand should be held in such a way that the palm of the hand is not visible to the audience. The easiest way to manage this is to face the audience, and hold the holding hand straight out in front of you. Reach over with the right hand, and cup the hand around the ball. Carefully drop the ball into the left palm, and hold it there with a Thumb Hold. You should be extremely careful not to move the left hand while doing this (to continue the illusion that the right hand has the ball), so maybe you should use the right hand to nudge it so it drops (otherwise, you’d have to move your left fingers). Make sure that the ball is not visible to the audience, and pull your right hand towards you, still cupping the hold. The initial version I saw of this revealed the illusion by bringing the cupped hand up to the mouth, and “blowing” the hand open, to reveal the disappearance. That doesn’t give a hint of what to do with the hidden ball, though. A number of options sound good. You could forgo the revealing, and bring your right hand behind the back, going into the “Through the Body” trick. A better one, I think, would be to reveal the disappearance, then reach into your ball pouch (or box, or whatever), and take out an identical – now you can somehow reveal the hidden ball in a “multiplying balls” type trick, ending up with two balls where the audience thought you only had one.

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