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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Is a hoop necessary for levitations? (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Lou Hilario
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Just curious is it always necessary to pass a hoop during a suspension or a levitation? Is this always a convincer to the lay audience? Smile
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AllAboutMagic
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I wouldn't do a levitation without one. It is great convincer, and I think would be expected.
Bill Hegbli
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Not manditory, remember Grant's Flying Carpet uses the swords. Abbott's Suspension used a rope hoop, had a big knot in it. I used the rope hoop with my Abbott's Chair Suspension. Went over very well. Nice thing about this style hoop is that all one has to do is untie the knot and then roll it smaller for packing. Easy to carry.

The Broom Suspension uses the broom. The only thing that is questionable is just using the arms like some illusionist have done. Swing arms is not that convincing, in my opinion.
Dougini
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Walt Anthony should put his thoughts here. He has a unique perspective on WHY using a hoop as a "prover" IS A VERY BAD IDEA. I'll contact him...

Doug
Kent Wong
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The answer to this lies in WHY the hoop pass is used in the first place. It eliminates in the spectator's mind, any possibility of a connection or support to the person who is floating. In that respect, it adds substantially to the effect. The only time it should be eliminated, is if something else can be added to achieve the same result in the spectator's mind. Just my two cents.

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SpellbinderEntertainment
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“To Hoop or Not to Hoop that is the Question!” If you read my book know my fundamental theory, you’re familiar with my rant about right versus left brain thinking. Few examples drive the point home as well as does relentless use of The Hoop… supposedly the Holy Grail to prove the magic of levitation.

A hoop (in addition to any magical “proving”) converts a Mystery offered by a Conjurer into a Puzzle perpetrated by a Trickster.

When you perform are you choosing to present:
A puzzle to be solved?
Or a mystery to be appreciated?

It’s an addictive game of “running when we’re not being chased,” trying in our dysfunction to become honest charlatans. Imagine an actor portraying Hamlet suddenly turning to his audiences and shouting “This is a rubber dagger I didn’t really kill him!”

Well– are you a “Trickster” or a “Conjurer”? It seems we magicians love to “prove” things to our audiences, and those proofs often kill the Wonder and Enchantment for the audience.

If it is a truly well thought out and executed levitation, the audience is enveloped in the wonder of the moment; they should only care about the beauty and mystery, not your method.

What could be more poetic and delicately beautiful than an elegant lady, defying gravity and floating above the stage floor? Yet, at the moment our spectators are delighted and enchanted by the sight, Mr. Magic feels compelled to pull out a shiny hoop and prove something… maybe only to himself.

We do many things in magic “because that's the way it's always been done!" All I ask is that we examine our magic in a new light and in new ways. Look at it from a stance of Wonder and Enchantment, not trickery and doubt …with endless proofs and caveats.

There is a part deep in us that does not want to know there is NO “happily ever after” and the beast eats the handsome prince after he’s ditched the cheating princess. I truly believe the moment a hoop is brought on stage, the magic is killed and is replaced by a puzzle to be solved in the spectator’s minds.

It becomes a “how is she up there” or “if not wires, then what?” Your spectators are back in an analytic (left brain) mode, after you’ve worked so hard to put them into an accepting right-brain mode.

If you were really a Magician– for instance if the great Merlyn himself were performing, would he need to prove anything? Would he dare even let his audience think him less than powerfully magical?

No–
He would say: “%)(#*@%$ You!”
I’m Merlyn! It’s Magic!
–And that would be that.

A hoop has become a crutch rather than a tool “Look she must be up there. I have a hoop” is the unspoken message, rather than “We are here to astound and move you.”

If you have a concrete- logical- theatrically-viable reason within your premise/plot that makes it imperative for the magic to be believed, by waving something around the lady, and you can make a point for doing it, then you are perhaps the exception to this ludicrous rule to hoop supine assistants.

I know many disagree (I’ve had chairs hurled at me during workshops when I brought up this sacred cow) If you assume magic is real (like the actor playing Hamlet) they will assume the fact as well, mirroring the acting phrase, “if you believe, they’ll believe.”

Magically, Walt

http://www.leapinglizardsmagic.com/aaa_n......ales.htm
Kent Wong
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I understand what Walt is trying to say, but it is a very complicated psychological issue. When an audience goes to see Hamlet, they know intellectually that no one is really being killed on stage. But, if the actors, producers, and directors have done their job properly, the audience gets sufficiently drawn "into the moment" and they forget about what their mind knows. That's the temporary suspension of disbelief as seen in a play.

The problem with many magic shows, however, is that the production lacks any semblance of plot and character development necessary to draw the audience "into the moment". In fact, many magic shows are simply the equivalent of a skilled stunt person performing a series of special effects. The audience comes into the show willing to suspend their sense of disbelief, but without the key elements needed, that suspension of disbelief never happens. They never forget about what their mind knows.

IMHO, there are only two ways to make this happen: First, the magician can create an environment where the audience is so swept away by the theatrical meaning of the presentation that they don't care about how the magic was achieved. Copperfield was incredibly good at doing this during his very early television specials. From staging to costuming, lighting and music, every act was a theatrical vignette and the magic just added to it.

The second method is to subtly bash away at the spectator's intellect, by disproving method after method. The magician finally gets to the point where the spectator gives up trying. It's basically the Sherlock Holmes approach to magic: when every possible explanation has been discounted, all that remains, however implausible, must be the truth (magic). When presented properly, this is not perceived as an overt challenge to the audience and it isn't experienced as a win/lose scenario. The methods subtly allow the audience to subjectively "realize" that certain methods just aren't possible.

Is one approach better than the other? No. I think audiences are extremely diverse. Some people come to get swept away by the moment, whereas others come with an analytical mind. Unless the show is marketed specifically towards one type of audience (ie. as more of a theatrical play than an illusion show), the performer needs to recognize that the diversity within his/her audience is a fact of life. Each approach serves the needs of a particular type of spectator.

I also believe that both approaches should be combined within the same show. Theatrically performed pieces of magic are incredibly entertaining, but they can also be very emotionally draining for the audience. Even in Copperfield's early television specials, he combined theatrical vignettes with hard-hitting, direct magic. These pieces allow the audience to catch its collective breath before moving on to the next theatrical piece.

If we now come back to the "hoop" question, we have to first ask how the levitation is being presented. Is this a theatrical piece, or is it a "breather"? If it is a theatrical piece, the hoop (or whatever the person floats through) must have meaning and relevance within the piece. However, if it's a "breather", the hoop serves the purpose of subtly disproving potential methods.

Respectfully,

Kent
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SpellbinderEntertainment
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WE AGREE on so many levels, and depart on only a few, mainly the time-honored error of substituting proof for hard work.

Kent:
“When an audience goes to see Hamlet, they know intellectually that no one is really being killed on stage. But, if the actors, producers, and directors have done their job properly, the audience gets sufficiently drawn "into the moment" and they forget about what their mind knows. That's the temporary suspension of disbelief as seen in a play.”

--RIGHT Kent!
and my contention is if the magician (and his creative team) have done their jobs properly the same thing will happen, but they have to think out of, and break out of their “box.”

Kent:
“The problem with many magic shows, however, is that the production lacks any semblance of plot and character development necessary to draw the audience "into the moment". In fact, many magic shows are simply the equivalent of a skilled stunt person performing a series of special effects. The audience comes into the show willing to suspend their sense of disbelief, but without the key elements needed, that suspension of disbelief never happens. They never forget about what their mind knows.”

--EXACTLY Kent!
And the problem is we magicians have become complacent, follow the leader, and con ourselves into thinking our audience can make that leap on their own.

Kent:
“IMHO, there are only two ways to make this happen: First, the magician can create an environment where the audience is so swept away by the theatrical meaning of the presentation that they don't care about how the magic was achieved. Copperfield was incredibly good at doing this during his very early television specials. From staging to costuming, lighting and music, every act was a theatrical vignette and the magic just added to it.”

“The second method is to subtly bash away at the spectator's intellect, by disproving method after method. The magician finally gets to the point where the spectator gives up trying. It's basically the Sherlock Holmes approach to magic: when every possible explanation has been discounted, all that remains, however implausible, must be the truth (magic). When presented properly, this is not perceived as an overt challenge to the audience and it isn't experienced as a win/lose scenario. The methods subtly allow the audience to subjectively "realize" that certain methods just aren't possible.”

--WOW Yes again Kent!
Create Theatre and/or a bubble of impossibility. BUT not through proving, this only makes them work harder at the puzzle, it’s through thoughtful creation, skill, and confidence, not proof.

Magically, Walt
Kent Wong
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So the question really is NOT the use of the hoop, but WHY the person is floating in the first place. If you had real magic powers, WHY would you cause a person to float? As I recall, Doug Henning presented a floating illusion during one of his specials, but instead of passing using a hoop pass, he flew through an archway that formed part of the scenery.

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pkessler
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Respectfully, and in deference to those who know far far more than I do or likely ever will (and Walt, I am profiting enormously this last week from searching out your amazing and generous posts on floating spheres), I have an additional observation. Many tricks involve a sequence of reveals, and it sometimes feels that in the more successful tricks, the final reveal decimates an intelligent audience's expectations of how the trick was performed. Novice that I am, it seems to me that tricks involving the intersection of two or three gimmicks work so well precisely because the audience, without quite knowing how, is serially deprived of one solution after another to the effect at hand. It is too much to ask that an audience come unarmed with skepticism. Even a dog will look to your hand when you palm, rather than throw, a ball. Rather, a successful trick will engage that audience skepticism and, reveal by reveal, decimate it so that when the trick is finished, the audience is cornered, left with no alternative whatsoever except to embrace the inexplicable and magical. The best tricks do not force a magician to overemphasize the destruction, because the destruction is built into the structure of the tricks themselves.

I have been considering levitations for a while because sometimes I want a breather from thinking about five of the other genres of deception and am too weak-kneed to think much about "torture," the seventh. One of the drawbacks of Levitation is that there are limited opportunities to demolish audience expectation because there are limited reveals. The big reveal, haha!, is the levitation itself. Respectfully, I do think the hoop adds a lot. I say this in part because a year or so ago, I was utterly untutored in magic, and the hoop was the moment when the magician really stabbed it into me: "Look, this body is levitating, and you my dear know that is impossible but you have NO idea how it is done. QED: Magic!"

Unfortunately, there are only two reveals in straight-forward levitation-- and the first reveal, the levitation itself, begs many, many questions, of which the hoop is expected to answer ALL.

A few days ago I saw Steinmeyer's "Hot Air," on youtube -- it was linked by one or another poster on this forum in the last few years, and I have been looking into the Super X. I write this off the cuff without actually having been able to dip into the source Steinmeyer volume on my bedside table that even now is calling out to me with reproach. (So forgive me, sir.) But upon watching the youtube rendition, it seeems that "Hot Air" is an effort to add power to the levitation by increasing the number of reveals. (It also gestures toward solving a "problem" and limitation with, say, the sword suspension -- that the third sword must remain). Along these lines, the broom suspension feels more powerful than the sword suspension, at least in my opinion, because you have first the 45 degree, then the 90 degree -- more moments that progressively defy and demolish audience expectation.

Back to the question of the levitation itself, and to repeat myself: the hoop is weakest if it is used in a manner that is "off the cuff," without respect for its vicious and violent simplicity. It should be a deliberate illustration by the magician that, yes, my dears, this person really is floating, and all your guesses as to how it has happened are but chaff -- submit!!! But, again, dependence on the hoop in what is otherwise only a two reveal illusion underscores a limitation in the trick itself.
jay leslie
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(quote)If you were really a Magician– for instance if the great Merlyn himself were performing, would he need to prove anything? Would he dare even let his audience think him less than powerfully magical?
(quote)


If the magician believes that the magic is real, and the audience therefore adopts his attitude then why is it necessary to show a box, any box, empty before you produce something? Why not bring-out an opaque box, a person jumps out, and you get your applause. Why is it necessary to have a box?

Answer; because we don't perform real magic, it's pretend. And while the audience may suspend their disbelief they still know there's a trick to IT - IT being any kind of mechanical device- Mentalists however, can create a different mind-set where an audience may really believe their act. Granted, there are people who really believe someone can talk to the dead and read their mind but no one believes someone is floating unaided.

People will often describe DC or Thomas floating in space as though it's ethereal and almost a religious experiance. then they say "I wonder how they do that?"


The asrah does not use a hoop because of technical issues however, the person vanishes which trumps the floating effect. But there is a backstory involved too. Not to mention that the table is removed as is the chair on the chair suspension. If you were doing real magic why bother removing the table or the chair? Why does someone need to lay down? if you were doing real magic, you should be able to make someone rise, recline or do twists without first laying down.
The chair suspension does not require a hoop but if you've ever seen someone perform it the audience usually Oohs and Ahhs and some strain ther neck to see better.
So the hoop does not diminish the effect whether you are performing a levitation or suspension as a puzzle, or as if the levitation it's really magic.

I like to think of of this way, When a salesman sells me a car, I don't believe what comes out of their mouth, It's all trick. It may look good, sound great and the arena we are in may be spactatuclar but it's all smoke and mirrors... When they give me the warrantee, in writing... that's the hoop.
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Hello Pkessler. You wrote: “It is too much to ask that an audience come unarmed with skepticism.”

Yes, they automatically come armed with skepticism, even watching a play they are skeptical if it will be well staged and meet their artistic expectations. Probably more so with magic.

The trick is (no pun) to systematically coax them out of their puzzle-solving left brain and into their creative mode right brain as soon as possible. I can’t go into all that here, it took 270 pages to get the point across in my book.

However, if the magician does his job of left-to-right brain transference, monitors them, and holds them there, they are virtually incapable of skepticism, until they leave your show.

Most magicians either have not heard this is possible, is a learnable technique, don’t think it applies to their magic, or are just to uninspired to learn how to achieve this balance.

To see young Yu Ho Jin, not on video, but LIVE …it is impossible (even for the most jaded magician) to think of his work as card “manipulation” or technique, or skill.

It is at its very essence pure magic. NO proofs, only heart, humility, and magic. He is one of today’s Merlins. His level of skill, discipline, and creativity allow him to give a right-brain experience even without words.

My hands stopped applauding, my mind stopped guessing, my mouth was open, my eyes teared, and I was four years old on Christmas morning again. For the first time in my life I genuflected to another magician when we met after the show.

I cannot even imagine what this young magical genius could bring to a stage show should he want to attempt a levitation. No hoops I’d guarantee that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVT_OM94vTg

Also as an aside to Pkessler,
A Super-X is probably only good for a still publicity photo, not for performance. There are far better options, but everyone, please remember there is no “holy grail” of smaller suspensions and levitations, they all have their flaws.

Magically, Walt
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Hi Leslie, we are all merlins with feet of clay.

Merlin would probably not use a box or tube, but there is always away to theatrically justify props, if those props are carefully chosen, presented in a context, and used with care. We have to settle for second-place in any contest with Merlin. That does not mean we can’t constantly think like him, and challenge ourselves to step out of the past and the been-there-done-that magic legacy and do everything within our artistic and technical powers to fight the urge to take the easy way out. It’s not easy, but I think it’s a noble calling.

Mentalists are really magicians, and some people believe what they do is real, yes. As Burger says “there are many rooms in the mansion of magic” mentalism is one room. That does not mean those of us in the multitude of other magic rooms cannot attempt (and sometimes succeed) at getting the same result. I have not mastered this, but I feel triumphant every night in the Parlor when a guest totally believes in me and my magic (until they get in their car hopefully.)

I am not saying to toss out the baby with the bathwater and do away every magic prop and illusion we own. However se can set a goal to *think* like Merlin. At least try to give up your “proofs” in you’re your magic for Lent and see what happens. I think you’ll amaze yourself as well as your audiences.

As I said, I’ve on more than one occasion, had folding chair hurled across the room at me in my magic workshops when I talk about this dramatic a level of change, and dare to question the wisdom of more than 100 years of floating lady traditions …and hoops.

In our stressful and horrific world, where every atrocity instantly appears on a screen or our phones, where we are bombarded with stress, trauma, worry and pain. We ADULTS need to believe in the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa far more than our children. So I find my guests enter my theatre to escape, and they are grateful and more than WILLING to let go of their outside reality and accept my magic, as truly magical. Not all, but the majority.

So, think out of the box, even if you use a “box.” is my belief.

Magically, Walt
Eldon
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I'm with Walt on this one. I used a hoop for many years but quit a few years ago for the very reason he posted.
Dougini
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Wow. Walt...I knew I did the right thing contacting you! Eloquent. Classy. Incredible. That's why I recommend your book. You have changed me. I no longer "do tricks". My whole attitude has changed. I do MAGIC. However, the spectator and I, we go down the rabbit hole TOGETHER.

Yu Ho Jin blew me away! For a short time there, I started to believe in MAGIC!

Thank you.

Doug
pkessler
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Walt,

Thanks so much for the thoughts, and especially the word on the Super X. This forum is an incredible resource, and I've been pouring through pages upon pages of discussion of the Super X, etc.

Undoubtedly a good chair suspension will thrill me.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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You can get a lot of mileage out of a good Chair Suspension.
Jim Sommers (through Klamm Magic) is much better than the MAK, McDonald’s rated it high for safety and used it for Ronald shows.

If you want the best, that will last for years, and is very deceptive go to Jay Leslie!
It is so well made, lovely, and the Tiffany of them in my opinion.

Whatever you get Kyle Peron's book is a MUST have. http://kpmagicproducts.com

There are techniques to make the magic more logical, one being finding motivation to tie a balloon to the unsupported end. Think about it, don’t just do it by the book.

And PLEASE don’t use a hoop, even lamer because of the remaining chair.
Magically, Walt
George Ledo
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I'm going to chime in here and offer a slightly different take on the question, totally from the viewpoint of a guy who's in theater and sees magic strictly as a form of live entertainment.

For me, it makes no difference whether there's a hoop or not -- as long as the hoop is in character. I've said this many times before about white tie and tails: for many years magicians wore this uniform, but, from what I saw over and over, most of them had no idea why they were wearing it, never mind how to wear it. I wore it myself when I did my cards and doves act, and sure it looked classy, but it was totally out of context in a lot of venues. I could have done exactly the same act wearing something else.

The hoop goes right back to the time period it was created. In Kellar's hands, with his presentation and personality, it probably looked totally in character as a way to prove there was nothing there. Same for Thurston, Blackstone, et al. But then, somewhere down the line, the presentation got lost and the only thing that remained was the hoop -- and all the time audiences were changing. Fitzkee got some mileage out of this in SFM in 1945. I saw any number of levitations (long before YouTube) that looked like they just came out of the box: do this, do that, do something else. And pass the hoop.

If I wanted to do a levi today, and present it as a tribute to Kellar, or as a flashback, then I'd use the hoop the way he used it. If I were doing a levi as myself, I probably wouldn't -- but only because the presentation wouldn't call for it; in fact, it would just slow things down. If I were doing it in Vegas, there would not be a hoop because there wouldn't be any place for it. On the other hand, many years ago I was working on a presentation that involved a rope (actually more of a long silk cord), and at one point I would have tied it into a loop and passed it over her.

For me, it's not a yes or no question -- it's a question of how the whole thing fits together.
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Kent Wong
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I'm really enjoying this topic and all of the valuable insights being presented. As I just read George's post, a question popped into my head: Assuming the SAME presentation for both effects, is the use of a hoop more important for a suspension as opposed to a levitation?

Kent
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magic4u02
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Walt,

Thank you my friend on the kind words on my Chair Suspension Ebook. I am glad it has been a great resource and help to so many.

To Kent's question, it is one reason why I choose not to use a hoop during the chair suspension. I feel it is overkill and trying to oversell something that does not need to be sold. It is a suspension and so you are telling the audience that the body is supported in some way yet should be impossible for the body to suspend itself like that.

Kyle
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