I have been a student of Eastern philosophy most of my life. I started studying martial arts when I was 8 years old, and have been influenced deeply by Asian culture. Not only have I collected magic and masks from the East, but I also love to collect magical wisdom, quotes and aphorisms. The following is one of my favorites: “The one who can do the most magic with the least amount of stuff wins!” I am blessed to have good teachers in my life, guides who have prevented me from making costly mistakes. When I first started performing, I had a big show to do and little inspiration. I was feeling insecure with my ability to deliver the goods. I would throw lots of money at props and high tech gadgets to puff up my show. I have learned over my many years of performing that you need not fill the stage with props and boxes if you can fill the audiences’ hearts and minds with real magic. Much of my inspiration for magical minimalism has come, in part, from a few of my friends and teachers. Eugene Burger, Max Maven and Jonathan Pendragon all have something in common. They are all masters of the magical arts. All of them can work huge theaters with the minimal amount of stage clutter. They make the magic. They ARE the magic; not their props! This has a lot to do with the attention they have all put into other areas of theater. I am a student of their work and they are an inspiration to all of us who seek magical artistry. I am fortunate to be able to spend time with Max, Eugene and Jonathan; they are in my special inner circle of friends and magical heroes!
I feel that audience participation is what makes a magic show different than traditional “4th wall” theater. When a performer steps out over the footlights and has the audience join him onstage, or has someone pick a card, the 4th wall is broken and the environment shifts from being theater to that of an initiatory ritual. Is that what makes a magic show into ritual theater? Almost ALL of close up magic is audience participation on some level. I know that most of my favorite stage routines are audience interactive.
Many folks seem to think that our Master Classes are only for experts; this is not the case. Many of our students are beginners wanting to develop new skills. Some of our students are serious enthusiasts, wanting to take their magic to the next level, others are full time pros. Master Class is for everyone, from beginner to expert.
I have been blessed with having many great magic teachers in my life. It is an honor to continue the tradition and be a part of many young performers’ success stories. Matthew Stanly writes us in a recent letter. “I applied your advice to my act and it has really made a difference. Not only did I take the 2003 Lance Burton Award, but I also received the 2003 IBM Stage Champion Award. Now instead of competing at conventions I am appearing.” Thank you Matt, you make all of us here at the Las Vegas Magic School proud to be part of your success! Lance is also a great mentor and teacher. He often visits the school to help our students with illuminating advice on how he creates his magic. Lance has done much to nurture the future stars of magic.