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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » I think this could help some of us. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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magic_man204
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Hello guys, I thinks this could be very beneficial at least me, and probably a lot of us.

Ok here it is, I can't figure it out. I see a lot of manipulators doing some of the same moves and have sort of the same style as Lance Burton. But none of them seem to compare to his manipulation act, so what makes this act better? I think if some of the more knowledgible people here help ****yze what makes this act so charming and delightful.

I don't want anyone to copy Lance, enough people have that covered already, but just to see how his Karisma and the like can make a good act great.

I think I have made myself clear so if you don't know Lances act then here is a quick version.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRfOPW0liHE

Thanks a lot everyone I hope to here some great thoughts on this subject.

-Aaron
C Christian
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Economy of Motion!!!!!
magic_man204
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I'm not really sure what that means?
graywolf
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His character,his setting,his music and his props.Most important is the FLOW of the routine...Cordially,Howard
magic4u02
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What it comes down to is that Lance was not trying to be anyone he had seen before. Lance became a character he developed himself that was as unique and different as you and I. He did not look inward at magic to develop ideas, but instead looked outward to develop a theme for a manipulative act that was different and that people could relate to.

Too many manipulators today look towards magic for their ideas for their acts. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you are using it simply to learn the basics. However, when it comes down to being creative, one must look away from magic to look for creative outlets that allow you to think more creatively. Instead of going to your magic videos and DVDs for ideas, look elsewhere. By doing so it makes your act so much more different instead of a clone of someone else.

You may also notice that Lance has a very different approach to manipulative magic. A lot of manipulators decide to take a fast and "in your face" approach to their performances. There is also nothing wrong with this apporach either. However it is done so much and so often that what they are really showing the audience is skill alone. If you are shoiwng skill at a fast paced for a simple "wow" factor, then you better be flawless in your execution. The reason is that your act has no "layers". If the skill fails to entertain, then the audience is left with nothing else to grab on to with the act.

In Lance's act, he has added these "layers" to the act and because he has done so, he gives the audience so much more to be entertained by then just the magic alone.

Kyle
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magic_man204
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Thanks kyle, I was hoping you would chime in. anyone else?
C Christian
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I have to some what disagree with Kyle which I am sure will lead to a 3 page rebutt ( I say that as a joke ). I do Agree that Mr. Burton created his own Persona on stage. But how differnt is his manipulation act from say Channing Pollock as far as style is concern not much and their have been many many others before Mr. Burton that have used that same ease and zero props. (You only have to look into the Cabaret act's of the 50's-60's) I am quoting somebody who is much wiser then I. "It is easy to watch Lance Burton do is Manipulation act because he is so darn good" Know why is he sooo good?
Economy of Motion!
Not one move is wasted he turns to the left for a reason he plays with his hair for a reason every move he makes has a reason and purpose to fuel the next move.
There also is Lack of movement or should I say movement that nobody sees. Combine all this; wined Lance Burton up and let him go and you got a Great Act!!
You can talk about layers, staging, persona all you want but when you strip it all down to the bare knuckles what you have is....
Lance Burton is an Expert not only in Slight of Hand Manipulation but also Economy of Motion.
Take a look at your act see how many times you bend over to drop something in your case and see if you can't cut it out. Even if you cut out just one move your act will go faster and smoother...Economy of Motion. Thank you for reading this far and now I must go to work cheers Chris
magic4u02
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Hi Chris,

I first was hoping you would chime in here as I do appreciate and enjoy your posts as well as your thoughts and ideas. Thank you my friend. You know I would have to chime back in on this and lets hope I can keep my response shorter then 3 pages. Hmm maybe just 2 will do just fine. hehe

I agree with you that a part of it is the economy of motion. I do agree with you on that and the fact the every movement is done for a reason and helps to really sell the magic that is taking place. Every movement guides the eyes of the audience to where they need to go as a music director guides the music.

However I would still have to agree to disagree that the layers that I mention so often are not important or not prevalent in Lance's act. If you really study his act and watch it, you will see they are there and they are working for him beautifully.

In fact you may even state that economy of motion is really a layer for a successful manipulative routine or act. It certainly fits the definition well and when added to an act gives the audience that much more to get interested in.

I think we closely are agreeing here on this and we both would agree that economy of motion is something lance does very well. He certainly knows how to move on stage with the act and allow the movement to flow with the music and the magic so all becomes one. There is not a movement done that is wasted.

Kyle
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C Christian
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Thank you for seeing the Humor in that hehehe
I'll tell you the truth Kyle I agree on lots of aspects of almost all of your posts (that's saying something)
And I do agree that One needs Charm, Charisma, There Own Identity all those layers. To me that is a given All the Top Pros in any field have those same Layers, they have to in order to be on Top.
But to ****yse the act and strip it down. Lets pretend we never new Lance Burton and saw just his manipulation act for the 1st time at Fism.
Stage Pressence-Yep, he got that...
Slight of Hand-Flawless
Music-Yes it sets the mood and fits the character
Props- Yes Fits the character
Lighting-Perfect helps the mood and helps the audience see
Economy of motion-Flawless (there is not one move you cannot take out or put in for that matter)

Now think back to The Last Competition you've been to and think of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners
All the 1st place winners that where separated from the pack is not because of the music, props, Stage lighting or Stage Pressence. Granted these qualities had to be great (I would hope that they all had Stage pressence) It's Because their Manipulation was Flawless One and Two their economy of motion was flawless or near flawless.

This is a subject matter that many folks don't talk about much. Or find it difficult because it is not as tangable as say a back-palm and I was trianed by a few that Believe Econmy of Motion goes hand in hand with Slight of hand. Read John Carneys Books and you will see an Expert on Economy of Motion at its best.

Last: I wish everyone who reads this to do what I said in their Act find one wasted movement and take it out. And see the differnce it will make. Trust me.
Last comment I promise... Kyle I think your starting to rub on me this may very well be the longest post I've ever written. Now off to bed....
cheers chris
magic_man204
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Thanks a lot you guys, you have brought a lot to my mind andnow I am going over and over my act, going through every movement and asking myself why? if I don't have a good answere then I revise and I thinks this will help a lot of people, take it to hart. I appreciate both your guys posts alot.

Thanks
-Aaron
magic4u02
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You are most welcome Aaron. Chris and I are essentially speaking the same language and thoughts here and basically agreeing that there is way more to an act then mere skill alone. I wish you all the best with your act and please let us know how we can help.

Kyle
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ufo
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A very worthy and stimulating exchange gentlemen!
"What's your drug?" she asked. "Hope" he said, "The most addicting one of all."
Bob Clayton
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Kyle and Chris, both of you have raised excellent points and I'd like to thank the two of you for sharing these thoughts with the rest of us. On the economy of motion, I recall Fritzkee touching on this subject, but have to admit not giving it its due attention like I should have. All good stuff to think about.
Professor Piper
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Agreed guys, THIS is the kind of exchange of ideas and insight that I come to the Café for!!

I would, humbly, add that I find Burton's act to have a certain amount of PURPOSE...for me, this is what makes his work stand out from the others that I have seen.

When all of your actions, and economy of movement, and character, and all the other very important layers is coupled with a Purpose...Or read that: There is a REASON I am doing this; a STORY I am telling...

That is what puts the shine on the diamond.

Just my 2 cents.

Prof. Piper
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Flying Magus
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While we're on the economy of motion topic, I'd like to extend your thinking on it a little. (Actually a little outside the scope of this forum so I'll keep it brief.)

Economy of 'Stuff' is at the heart of genius. In mechanical design simplicity is almost always the goal. The best designs appear so simple yet take years to perfect.

The best inventions make you think "Why didn't I think of that?" They look so simple.

The best jokes are short and punchy. If you want your writing to improve, trim down your words. Chisel away until all you have is the absolute essentials and you will begin to approach perfection.

And finally, think of the classics of magic. Solid steel rings - simple. Billiard Balls - simple. An Egg and a Bag - simple.

Me - simple Smile
Magically yours,

Michel Fouché
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magic_man204
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Thanks for the great input guys, this topic is turning into just what I hoped it would. Thanks guys and keep it coming.

-Aaron
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Well, here is a bio of Lance: He first became interested in magic at the age of 5, when he was one of the volunteers at a performance of Harry Collins during a Christmas party at the factory where his mother worked. The trick was The Miser's Dream, where Collins "pulled silver dollars out of the sky", and Burton's ears. The young Burton was fascinated, and a neighbor, hearing of his interest, gave him a book, Magic Made Easy, which her own (now-grown) children had used. It contained ten tricks, all of which young Burton quickly learned. His first performances were for neighborhood children, charging them a nickel each.

Collins, a full-time magician, noticed the interest, and became his mentor when Burton was in his teens, teaching him the fundamentals of the trade. In 1977, as a teenager, Burton entered his first magic competition, and won first prize. In 1980, shortly after his 20th birthday, he was awarded a "Gold Medal of Excellence" from the International Brotherhood of Magicians. After that, he moved to Southern California, where within a week he appeared on The Tonight Show. Host Johnny Carson watched him in rehearsal, and allowed him to do an unprecedented 12-minute routine. Through the course of Burton's career he was invited back for a total of ten performances while Johnny Carson was host, and another five performances during Jay Leno's tenure. Burton has also appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.

He performed an initial eight week trial at the Folies Bergere show in Las Vegas, and this was then extended for a record-breaking nine years. In 1982, he competed at the international Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques (FISM) competition in Lausanne, Switzerland, and won the "Grande Prix" prize, (the main event of the FISM competition) the youngest person to ever win the main event, and the first American to do so.

In 1991, he produced, directed, and wrote his own show, which opened at the Hacienda Hotel and ran for five years.

He was married once, to magician Melinda Saxe in August 1993, but they divorced a year later. The wedding was performed by Rabbi Appel, a conservative rabbi in Las Vegas.

In August 1994, Burton signed a 13-year contract (the longest contract given to any entertainer in Las Vegas history) with the Monte Carlo Resort in Las Vegas. The 1,274-seat "Lance Burton Theater" was built to Burton's specifications for his show, cost $27 million US, and opened on June 21, 1996. Entertainment Today magazine lists it as the #1 family magic act, and according to USA Weekend, during the 13-year run Burton is expected to have earned more than $110 million USD.

In one television performance entitled "Top Secret", Burton performed a stunt where he appeared to be tied to the tracks of the Desperado roller coaster in Primm, Nevada, "escaping" within seconds of the roller coaster train hurtling past him. The stunt either went wrong or the time cut too close, and the train came within about a tenth of a second of hitting him at high speed as he lept out of the way. He stared at the camera with a shocked look and repeated "That was stupid. That was really stupid." before cutting to commercial.

Lance Burton will be celebrating his ten (10) year anniversary at the Monte Carlo by introducing his newest illusion entitled "Solid Gold Lady" in which he utilizes $10 million in gold.

His full name is William Lance Burton.
C Christian
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Gosh I am glad Halloween is over....Now to focus on Christmas, Yikes...
Yep I agree with Flying Magus and Terry...The only issue you have to be somewhat careful in a Manipulative act is, sometimes the shortest or easiest way is not neccesarily the best way. This is where knowlegde of sleight of hand or having another set of eyes is so important. Aslo you are Correct Magus that if you think of the classics say egg bag, it is very simple. But in todays Society (and this really is my opinion so don't anyone start jumping the guns Because I do love the trick) I think the Audience is looking for something more, more sophisticated. I am not sure if that's the correct word but it does fit. Hence, why it sometimes falls flat no matter what routine you use and I have seen some great performers close with it and yet falls flat.
I think I am changing my mind on the Layers thing....I still think Economy of Motion is just as important as sleight of hand but you do need all the others to be Great! and knowing when something is not working or working the way you want to is another layer one needs to be aware of.
Good luck to you all in your manipulation act. If anyone needs to hash stuff out you know where to find me. thank you for the kind words. Best wishes Chris
magic4u02
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Thanks guys. This is indeed a great sharing of thoughts and principles and ideas and I am really excited about all the ideas expressed and shared openly here. Thank you all for that.

I feel that when all of the "layers" are placed into the act and working the eay they should work, then these "layers" beocme invisible to the audience. They merge together to create an overall entertaining impression without the audience ever really realizing it is happening to them. In essence, if it is done well, then the act speaks and works for itself.

My whole "layer" principle and approach came about from seeing so many manipulators being what I refer to as one-dimensional. Too many take their manipulation on to the stage and as a demonstration of mere skill alone. It becomes a thing like telling them, "watch this cause it is aamazing the skill I possess." In a way it is like a juggler demonstrating his or her most amazing feat.

There is nothing wrong with skill. Certianly skill plays a large factor in any manipulative act. I just feel too many manipulators focus on this ONLY without giving any thought to so much more they can add to their act to make it more entertaining to the audience. This is when I seriously started thinking about what it is that we can add to an act of a manipulative nature that can give the audience that something extra. hence the birth of my "layers" approach to what I do.

the interesting thing to me is that this thread has really brought about and brought up several new "layers" that I had nbot really thought of before and his has me thinking even more about it. For that I thank you.

I just feel our audiences deserve more from us then many of us are willing to give. I feel a manipulator can and should open themselves up to being more creative. There simply is so much out there that has not been tried before and that is just waiting for someone to explore it.

Kyle
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Suppo
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For all the Kentuckians out there...

Lance once worked at Tombstone Junction. I got to see a small part of that being in the town after the train ride as his show was wrapping up. It was my first time seeing a magician.

For the motion discussion, I would only suggest not so much as trying to eliminate movement as to make sure every movement is important, even to ensure you have all the movements you need to really present what you are trying to convey. It is, afterall, a choreographed series of motions just like a dance routine, a song, even a march of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. Each one of those can work at the ol' heart strings pretty well. Each movement is designed to create and build a story.
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