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Topic: Doves for a one man show
Message: Posted by: Tony S (Jul 24, 2004 08:23AM)
I'm putting together a new show and am considering using doves for the first time. The target market for the show is schools and libraries. I do not use an assistant in my show. Before I go down this path I'd like to get your thoughts on the length of time the doves can be in a body load at the beginning of my act and/or in the vanishing birdcage (after it's vanished).

I certainly don't want to hurt the animals. My concern is that the doves won't like being confined for the length of my show - about 1 hour. I don't have an assitant to 'unconfine' them while I'm performing.

I'd like the routine I'm building to end with the vanishing birdcage and then continue on with the rest of my act. I am willing, however, to do my dove act, put the birds in the vanishing birdcage and let them sit on stage behind me for the rest of my show. I could then end the show by vanishing them.

I'd appreciate any thoughts you may have on this.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jul 24, 2004 09:54AM)
A tip for you Tony. Get the bird OUT of the Dove Pan (if using one) quickly as you can. No need to pull a soaking wet, limp damaged bird from the thing.

I once HAD an assistant who loaded the bird a bit early...when I pulled her, she was a mess, nearly dead (the bird, not the assistant) and not the same ever again. My worst moment on stage. So being 'alone' up there is not all bad!

The Vanishing Cage, at least the one I had leaves a VERY small space for the doves as well. It was designed for a 'Finish'.

Message: Posted by: Tony S (Jul 24, 2004 09:59AM)
Thanks for the tip, Doug. I thought this would be the response I'd get. I'll work the show so that I open with my dove routine, put the doves into the vanishing birdcage and let them stay there until the end of my show. I'll do the vanish at the end and get them out of there as quickly as possible.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Jul 24, 2004 10:10AM)

Welcome to the world of dove magic. You will not be the Lone Ranger as a one-man dove act. Most of my life I have done dove magic without a consistent assistant. Often I get one from the audience or work without one at all.

A full hour is a long time for a dove to be loaded. Ventilation will be much more important than temperature. A human runs just over 98 degrees while a dove is about 105F degrees. Yes, you can do that indoors. (In the days before 9-11 etc. We would routinely fly from show to show with doves in our pockets for extended periods.

The body-loaded doves should be OK. Hanging your coat over a chair before show time might help too. For a one-man act we often have to load that way anyway.

I am more concerned about the birds in the vanishing birdcage. I don’t like my birds to stay there more than five minutes and mine is a very safe prop. (We have done forty miles of hard road together, but it is a very safe prop!) I routinely toss a 36” silk (The End, Goodbye, Thank You!, etc.) over the table at the end anyway to kill vision and keep people from stacking things on the top.

In over four decades of magic I have never lost a dove or even a gold fish in the act. Every dove I ever had die, died at home in his/her cage. Other animals have killed more of my doves than anything else. They are pretty tough partners when given the most basic of consideration. They plan to live. They like the folks that feed them.

The greatest worry to me is where you are working. Libraries seldom have very good stages and schools are getting to where they don’t have working curtains. It means that everything is left sitting out. That burns extra time. I never use vanishing dove cage in the flat. (There is nowhere to get away. The audience can either see through the cage or down on the tabletop afterwards. Without a stage, do some other dove vanish.) With children, I always like for them to see that the doves have reappeared and are fine. Therefore, I prefer using Chalet Doves to Rabbit (I keep three of them.) for the vanish in a children’s show. It is easy to set the cage back up and turn it around to show the kids that the birds are back. Then you can toss a 36” silk over the works and roll it to the back of the stage and step forward to shake hands etc.

My other concern is that specifically, libraries and schools often prohibit live animals in the show (especially if food is served there in the room). Ask first! Many do not allow fire, flash paper, flash powder, smoke, etc. in the building. Again, ask!

Also, make sure they have a place to put the animals indoors so that the animals do not spent long in the parked car. If you are not oriented toward the needs of your animal partners, use inanimate objects. There is no stigma attached. There is stigma attached to mistreated animals.

Go for it and enjoy!

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: fccfp (Jul 24, 2004 12:29PM)
Good advice Bob (as always)

I was seriously thinking about adding doves, I think you convinced me not to. There are several good reasons not to get started:
Not having the time to train
Having a scheduale so erratic that you can't stay on a scheduale.
Not performing in venues that can accomadate the special needs of the animals and the loading and unloading of same.

I realize that I will not be able to load immediatly before, or necessarily be able to release them, a show.

I guess you need "wings" to perform with Doves. ;)
Message: Posted by: Tony S (Jul 24, 2004 03:04PM)
Thanks for some very helpful advice. You bring up a very good point about libraries not typically having stages. I'll keep that in mind and work on a second ending.

Your point about some venues not permitting livestock as well as other magical items is something I have thought about. I am including a section in my performance agreement for the booker to fill out specifically stating whether these items are permitted or not.

Just curious, which type of vanishing birdcage do you use?
Message: Posted by: Dave Scribner (Jul 24, 2004 03:16PM)
Tony, all of the above advice is right on the mark. Assuming the school has a stage which many do, you can always have someone on staff open the vanishing cage for you. I use my wife in my show but she handed off the birds to a stage hand instead of trying to get them into a travelling cage. Anyone trustworthy back stage should be willing to help you.

As for load time before a show, while you can preload as Bob suggested, I load mine just before going on. The last body load is well into the act. I wouldn't recommend any longer than 15 minutes once you put you coat on. A typical dove act runs anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes so you should be fine.

You idea of leaving the birds in the vanishing cage is very doable as well. I start out with a dove act, go into silks and manipulation, finish up with a large silk production and then produce a cage of doves. It gives a nice rounded edge to the act.
Message: Posted by: Tony S (Jul 25, 2004 05:36PM)
Thanks for your reply. As I continue to think about this I like the idea of starting the act with the dove routine and ending the act with the vanishing birdcage. I think you're right about this giving the act a 'nice rounded edge.'

Let's see....now I just have to get some doves, a large birdcage for home, a smaller birdcage to travel with, a vanishing birdcage to perform with, harnesses, pockets, build a routine....... My wife is going to love this!

Actually, before I do all that I'm going to purchase one of the many books or DVD series on dove work. I've been reading the posts here to try to figure out which one I'll go with, I just haven't decided yet.

Thanks again for the help!
Message: Posted by: Dave Scribner (Jul 25, 2004 05:54PM)
Tony, sounds like you've got your hands full. I always recommed the Tony Clark vid's "Unmasked" but there are others equally as good. Andy Amx "doves 101" is good and if you really want a complete instructional series, Greg Frewin's newest release is great. It's a 3 DVD set and costs $150 but it covers just about everything.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Jul 25, 2004 08:15PM)
Tony and Bruce,

I'm not here to talk anyone out of dove magic. I'm just the wong guy to do that. It's great stuff and I love to do it but you have to have Plan B. Some places simply will not allow live birds around food (especially better hotels), some will not allow them outside the cages, and some will not allow animals in the building. My strategy is that I am a visitor and I want to be a welcomed one. It's their house and house rules apply to me too.

Frankly, I hate to work in the flat. Many places today have nothing else to offer. Trade shows often don't even block vision from the rear. They will put you center isle. (Plan C is required!) This is also why you buy Jetsets and hope you never use them.

Our job is to entertain where we are. Sometimes that means no doves, no fire, no playing cards, no blank guns, no microphone, no introduction (I think this is David Ginn's pet peeve while mine is a poor introduction to overcome!), no designated performing space, and there are interrupting announcements about misparked cars over the building PA system in the middle of your act. Once at a medical facility I even had a weather alert that took part of the audience away. (They didn't trust me, I guess!) It's life!

My automatic Plan B is usually to do more silk magic because it is easy to bring and plays well. But I've been surprised there too and ended up doing magic out on a pier with high winds and a sticky mist. (I won't tell you what that did for Lucy's Zombie routine.) The sun is really great for unwanted backlighting and bothering the eyes of your audience. Then there was an outdoor chapel where I did magic for more mosquitoes than humans. Perhaps it should have been a blood drive?

There are fun times to do dove magic when it is least expected. At a company Christmas Party, Lucy and I did a dove routine that appeared impromptu at the dining table. No entertainment was expected! My last show I threw a dove out into the audience to pick my volunteer. (He always takes the highest hand.) Often you are allowed to have fun. Just be prepared.

As for the vanishing dove cage I use, be prepared to sell your car. It was not made for library shows. I think today it would have to be custom made. It is all metal with two floors, is extremely adjustable, was made for six real doves with full tails, will pack flat, and it has no plastic, flat springs, or fringe. I do carry a can of flat black spray paint and a roll of prism tape for decoration. The road is just too hard for a bargain. Yes, it also fails nearly 10% of the time but recovery is easy and no one even knows what went wrong. Some of the cheaper ones really need an assistant available for recovery when they fail. (On an open forum, I won't discuss how these props fail. Always test a used one first. Many do not age well.) I have not seen a new one I would trade this one for without boot. Yep, it is cayote ugly up close! (We probably belong together.)

Do all the dove magic you can but be prepared to use other effects when doves are not practical. Don't miss a show just because you can't use doves.

Magic By sander
Message: Posted by: Tony S (Jul 26, 2004 06:51PM)
Thank you for your reply.

You bring up many valid points about performance locations and difficulties. I absolutely agree with your statement that house rules apply to me too.

I wouldn't consider missing out on a booking because I can't do a dove routine or any other routine for that matter. As a professional it is up to me to modify my show to suit the needs of any particular venue or client.

Thank you, again, for your reply.