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Darwin Ortiz
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I’ve never done a DVD review before. But I want to do everything I can to bring attention to Michael Vincent’s extraordinary project The Classic Magic of Michael Vincent.

There are three volumes sold only as a set. The first volume is devoted to parlor magic. Michael presents a beautiful parlor act consisting of:
- A wonderful stand-up coin routine that includes a production of three coins followed by a version of Three-Fly and finally a vanish of the coins. The latter is particularly breathtaking.
- The Cups & Balls (A specialty of Michael’s.)
- Slydini’s Knotted Silks
- Intuition Speller
- Kismet, a two-person sympathy effect.
- My Card, Your Card, Everybody’s Card, Michael’s version of a Robert-Houdin classic.
- Roy Walton’s The Smiling Mule
- The Amazing Discovery, Michael’s multiple location routine.

Interestingly, we usually think of most of these as close-up tricks. This makes the performance a lesson in how to stage and block close-up effects so that they will play to a larger audience. In particular, Intuition Speller, Kismet, and The Smiling Mule are effects that most would think of as “small” but that here play big. Even if your interests lie solely in the close-up realm, you’ll find this volume worth studying since most of the effects can be performed for small audiences.

High points of this volume include the amazing Intuition Speller and My Card, Your Card, Everybody’s Card. (Just listen to the audience reaction to both.) However, every effect is a pleasure to watch and worth learning. Perhaps most importantly, each is worth studying. Not every effect on the DVD is explained. To me, this is almost beside the point since you can learn so much just by watching the performance and considering why Michael says and does what he does at each point.

Those effects that are explained are thoroughly taught with every nuance covered. In the explanations, Michael is joined by Chris Harding who asks some penetrating questions and makes sure that no important details are missed. One of the striking things about the explanations in all three volumes is how much extra material is offered almost incidentally. In this volume, for instance, Michael also teaches his handlings of Harry Lorayne’s Foursome and Larry Jennings’ General Card. He also provides excellent tips on the handling of various utility moves. For instance, note the touches he offers on the underspread force in the course of teaching Kismet.

The second volume is devoted to close-up magic. The performance includes:
- A two-part coin routine consisting of Coins Across and Chinese Connection. (These are the only items not taught in this volume.)
- Vincent’s Aces. This is actually a routining together of five different ace effects: an ace production, Elevator Aces, Collectors, Aces for Connoisseurs, Henry Christ Aces, and an exceptional transposition, each with Michael Vincent’s excellent touches.
- Brainwave, My Way
- Pandora’s Paradox: Michael’s card-in-ring-box routine based on Roberto Giobbi’s version.

I know that it’s usual in reviews to pick out favorites. I think that’s pointless in this case since each effect is truly outstanding. I will say that Brainwave, My Way is about as perfect a close-up card prediction as you’ll find. It’s that rare effect where, if you did it by real magic, it wouldn’t look any different. And it leaves you with an ordinary deck.

I should also stress that each of the five effects encompassed by Vincent’s Aces can be used separately and each could constitute a feature item. At the same time, they mesh together beautifully. The combination of Aces for Connoisseurs and Henry Christ Aces works particularly well. Michael has added a touch at the beginning of the Henry Christ routine that illustrates how a small change can make a big difference in impact.

Once again the explanations offer wisdom and insights of value beyond the individual effects. As a bonus, during one explanation, Michael teaches how to perform Vernon’s Matching the Cards from an Aronson stack. There is also valuable advice on handling the interpersonal interactions that close-up magic involves. As with the first volume, there are as many lessons to be learned from the performances as from the explanations. For example, Michael’s spectator control in his coin routine is extraordinary. The routine may not be taught but the performance should be studied with that point in mind.

The third volume is entitled “The Pathway to Excellence.” It focuses on providing a foundation for becoming a better magician. Michael spends time on teaching many of the fundamentals of artistic card handling. This is the kind of information that many tend to skip over. If, however, after seeing Michael perform, you aspire to the same elegance and artistry, you can’t afford to overlook this volume. It contains insights that might otherwise take years to acquire. It also promotes a way of thinking about card handling that is a prerequisite to becoming a true expert.

Michael also provides some biographical information here. It’s clear that his intent is not merely to talk about himself but to give the viewer a sense of the magical tradition of which we are all a part.

This volume also has rewards for those who think of themselves as advanced card men. There is an excellent routine called Prologue to Triumph. Michael also teaches the one-hand bottom deal, a move that he does masterfully.

Whether this DVD set is for you depends on what you’re looking for. The emphasis here is on impact, not novelty. (Just pay attention to the audience reactions to appreciate the impact of this magic.) The magic is classy, classic, and classical. Alakazam’s production reflects this. They strike the right tone throughout, from setting to music, editing, graphic design, and packaging.

Michael Vincent is clearly committed to helping you become a better magician. His sincerity and conscientiousness in this regard is evident throughout these DVDs. If you’re committed to becoming a better magician, you should own this set.

Sincerely,
Darwin Ortiz
TAJ
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I’ve become a fan of Michael Vincent after watching several performance videos on youtube. What really strikes you about Michael is his enthusiasm, he enjoys every second of performing and entertaining an audience .

His polished routines shine with the luster of his warm and charming personality. The performance of these classics is truly an exercise in application, dedication and presentation. Thank you Michael for releasing this DVD set.

Taj
Peo Olsson
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Great review Darwin, looks like I have to buy the set.
Pictured to the left my hero and me during FISM 2006 in Stockholm.
John Carey
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Worth many times the price to the serious student. Wait till you guys see the next set Michael has coming out pretty soon...


John
El Mystico
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I've had this set of DVDs for a couple of weeks now. They get my highest recommmendation.
UK magicians will probably be familiar with Michael. Three time winner of the Magic Circle Close Up Competition. Those in the US will probably be less familiar, unless you subscribed to Apocalypse and read Lorayne's raves about him.
Michael's sleight of hand is smooth as silk. You may have dismissed a Marlo technique as impractical...then you see Michael use it, and realise how deceptive it can be. His handling of cards is better than almost anyone I can think of.
I've been in magic for about thirty years now, and I learned maany new tips and wrinkles.
Additionally, Michael THINKS. and his thinking is guided by the people he travelled to spend time with; people like Vernon and Slydini. (He has taken Slydini's principles and adapted them to his own personality - which isn't true of everyone who studied with Slydini).
Even if you don't adopt any of his routines, there will be ideas that uo will want to use.

Any criticisms? Yes.
The setting isn't ideal for the explanations: several times Michael says, "I'm not used to doing it at this angle" or "I'm a bit uncomfortable here". But, overall the explanations are clear. There are a few sleights that could have been explained better - for example, I'm not sure people could learn the Future Classic palm from this, but - you are referred to Card Finesse for the details.
I was unconvinced by his approach to the four for four switch; while the action was covered, the delay made it clear that something was happening. (Cervon has sme great work on this switch, but I guess it will have to wait until the material on his videos is released)
Perhaps most contentious, given its popularity (and the rave from Darwin above!) - I'm not convinced by the ending of his Brainwave My Way. The first half, showing the red card in the deck is the card they named - is beautiful. But why, then, pull the blue duplicate from the zipped wallet? Michael stresses elsewhere that he is trying to streamline effects, not combine several effects into one. He also talks about trying to understand the way the spectator thinks. Well, here, to me, is an example where pulling the card from the zipped wallet is completely unnecessary - you've already convinced them that you had anticipated their thought. By this stage, if it were real magic, you should surely just be taking the regular card from your pocket, to "tidy up" the deck; the psychology is akin to the Vernon Mental Card Miracle from Stars of Magic. Since the card is not signed, it seems to me to waste the "Card to Wallet" effect.
I also think that currently, Michael puts emphasis on sleight of hand to solve problems rather than subtlely. Didn't Vernon used to say that he spent his time trying to eliminate sleights? I don't think Michael is there yet, but I'm sure it will come.
But bear in mind with these criticisms - I've not won the Magic Circle Close Up competition once!
It is clear from the third DVD that more DVDs are planned, and, despite these minor reservations, I will be buying them.
I recommend this set for both the beginner and the intermediate magician. And, come to think of it, for the person who considers himself an advanced magician!
michaelvincent
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Thank you for the great review Darwin.

I am deeply touched by your insightful evaluation aad consideration.

To Taj,Peo, John and EL Mystico,thank you for your taking the time to post your thoughts, it is very much appreciated.

I consider myself very fortunate to come into magic at a point in time when mastery, excellence and striving for perfection were valued commodities.

Dai Vernon, Cy Endfield, Slydini, Harry Lorayne, Darwin Ortiz, Larry Jennings, Rene Lavand, Mike Skinner, Roger Klause all pointed the way for us to follow.

Let's pay homage to their legacy by continuing the great work, we are all part of the chain of excellence.

Thank you all

Mike Vincent
Magic for the 21st Century
"Why be mediocre, when you have excellence as an option"

Mastering Magic

Elegant Decpetions

Learning Tools

The All Cards Blog

The Vincent Academy of Magic
shomemagic
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I LOVE Brainwave My Way. Thank you for sharing. Any new projects in the works Michael.
Magically,

Mike King - Sho-Me Magic

You can e-mail me at: shomemagic@gmail.com
motown
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It's always nice to read the comments from the likes of Darwin Ortiz. Thanks!
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
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IDOMAGIC2
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Hi here is a link for promo for the next Michael Vincent project entitled Rhapsody in Silver and other mysteries http://vimeo.com/4792413
Hope you enjoy
Darwin Ortiz
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Quote:
On 2009-05-25 08:25, El Mystico wrote:
I'm not convinced by the ending of his Brainwave My Way. The first half, showing the red card in the deck is the card they named - is beautiful. But why, then, pull the blue duplicate from the zipped wallet? Michael stresses elsewhere that he is trying to streamline effects, not combine several effects into one. He also talks about trying to understand the way the spectator thinks. Well, here, to me, is an example where pulling the card from the zipped wallet is completely unnecessary - you've already convinced them that you had anticipated their thought. By this stage, if it were real magic, you should surely just be taking the regular card from your pocket, to "tidy up" the deck; the psychology is akin to the Vernon Mental Card Miracle from Stars of Magic. Since the card is not signed, it seems to me to waste the "Card to Wallet" effect.

I don’t want to derail this thread by turning it into a debate about a single effect. So I’ll just offer a couple of brief observations and leave it at that. In Brainwave, My Way, Michael does not “combine several effects into one.” There is no “‘Card to Wallet’ effect.” Removing the blue card from the wallet is the resolution of the one and only effect being presented, that of a prediction.

As to understanding the way spectators think, I’ve always thought that the most important step in that process is to listen to how they react. Anyone who pays attention to the audience reaction when Michael reveals the blue-backed card in his wallet will be hard pressed to maintain that it doesn’t add to the effect.

Sincerely,
Darwin Ortiz
MJ Marrs
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I had the pleasure of seeing Michael Vincent perform at the Magic Castle several years ago. He is very smooth in his card work and his show is high class.

It was easy to see why he is admired so much in the UK. (I seem to recall that he won magician of the year from the Magic Circle.)
in flames
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I am a huge fan of Mr. Vincent. I am definitely purchasing this set. Thanks for the review Darwin.
Andi Peters
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Why does he have such a long, Steve Dacri style, thumbnail?
rnaviaux
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I recently acquired these. If you want to learn how a professional solve problems before and during a performance then I'd recommend these.

If you just want to learn some cool tricks then I'd have to recommend these as well but that wasn't my motivation. I'm more interested in understanding a viewpoint or attitude towards the craft of magic. This series is full of insights into our art.

Currently it's my favorite set of DVDs out there for teaching a approach to magic.

Randy
Bertrand Thornley
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Pulling the card out of the wallet proves, really proves the card they picked was already predetermined. Richard Osterlind does a similar routine(different method) with the exact same convincer at the end--the card that belongs is in his wallet and has been to be returned. Osterlind is a mentalist,which is why he chose to show the original card. He knows its Strong. The spectator doesn't know about card to wallet so wether he pulled it from his pocket or wallet makes no difference to them. Indeed, a perfect prediction.

I just realized after reading yours again El Mystico, you understand the first part of the above paragraph. Its the card coming out of the wallet and not the pocket that threw you.
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ASW
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Quote:
On 2009-05-26 19:16, Andi Peters wrote:
Why does he have such a long, Steve Dacri style, thumbnail?


Probably plays finger-style guitar.
Whenever I find myself gripping anything too tightly I just ask myself "How would Guy Hollingworth hold this?"

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El Mystico
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I think it is great that we have differing opinions - otherwise we'd all be performing the same material!
MagicSanta
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This reminds me....time to listen to my Chase the Ace CD.
Andi Peters
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Quote:
On 2009-05-27 05:00, ASW wrote:
Quote:
On 2009-05-26 19:16, Andi Peters wrote:
Why does he have such a long, Steve Dacri style, thumbnail?


Probably plays finger-style guitar.

Good thinking!

Watched the set again. One thing I noticed is how many times he plugs future DVDs. I'd rather he concentrated on explaining the material on the current dvd properly rather than blatantly pre-selling.
reese
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[/quote]

Watched the set again. One thing I noticed is how many times he plugs future DVDs. I'd rather he concentrated on explaining the material on the current dvd properly rather than blatantly pre-selling.
[/quote]

Hi Youngster!

I see you're new to magic. You might want to use your new purchase to learn how to
practice magic.... perhaps you'll eventually be able to perform it too.

You've made an excellent investment. I'd pay attention to the third dvd. Remember...
learning from dvds takes more than passively watching them. You have to actually
practice the material. And then you have to test the material in front of live
audiences.

I know you haven't had time to do any of this yet. You have a wonderful journey
ahead of you, filled with discovery and hard work.

Practice the material, try it on real people, and then...
come back and tell us your real world stories.
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