The question, "Where I learn my tricks" comes up frequently. Like any trade out in the world, magic is taught. Only a few move on to becoming professional magicians who create magical moments on a daily basis. Some of the things I do are hand me downs or variations of existing tricks that I have worked out for myself. Others come right from my own mind and those are my favorite.
Here's a interesting story behind how I created one of my current favorites and how I found out that someone els had the same idea. The reason I choose the following is, it's the one that gets the most questions after the experience.
From 2008 - 2010 I had nightly shows on The M/V Discovery Sun and found myself with a lot of time on my hands during the days. So I decided to challenge myself and learn the Rubiks Cube. It seems random but it's true. It took some time, but once I understood the basics of solving the cube a spark went off in my mind. The engine had started and the gears were turning.
What if I become efficient at the nostalgic puzzle and solve it while wearing a blindfold?
So I went on a three and a half month journey to learn all about it.
It took me a month to learn the basic algorithmic sequence to solve the cube in a reasonable amount of time, 10 minutes. After a few weeks I had sequences and algorithms memorized, so now it was all about developing the speedy technique. The techniques for speed rely on the the cube being lubricated properly as well as correct finger position when holding the brain twisting puzzle. Once I became efficient with my technique I began studying other blindfold routines. For many years magicians and mentalists have used blindfolds to add a layer of suspense to their performances. It's one thing to solve the Rubik's Cube and it's another to be blindfolded doing it. Challenge accepted.
During the research and development phase it came to my attention that a magican in England had the same idea. "WHAT? REALLY?" I was a little discouraged, I thought that I finally had an original idea. I eventually decided that I would continue my work on the routine, after all I had already come this far. Our techniques are similar, but our presentations are different. Nothing new under the sun... right!?
After putting all this work into the routine, finally I was ready to put it in the show. So began the journey of the routine I came to name Blind Cubed, as in Blind to the third power. For a couple weeks I was doing well, but was still taking a lot of time to solve the cube. The whole routine was taking up to 8 minutes. I wanted it down to 5 or less with the actual solving only taking 1.5 minutes and the rest being the presentation and build up.
During practice sessions the routine was fine. Unfortunately as soon as I hit the stage where the lights and pressure were on, I had more things to juggle than any other routine I'd ever done. I would run into unexpected problems, which was normal. Getting nervous was a big one here because, I can't see how the audience is reacting. Not seeing the people was not normal. Remembering sequences and their order was harder with my blood pumping a million miles pre hour. I knew it was just a numbers game, the more I did it the more comfortable it would become. The 10,000 hour rule really applies to this one.
After a month of working out the routine something happened, in the middle of the show I got lost in my algorithm and couldn't find my way back. I was under pressure and the people were waiting. I tried and I tried to remember and I failed to solve the cube that night.
It was crushing and embarrassing. The next two nights I made sure I would solve it to get my confidence back and I did. After that I pulled the routine from the show. What I did next was practice the hell out of the cube with and without a blindfold. Every free chance I had would be filled with solving the cube smoothly and efficiently. I did this for Three years.
In 2013 I had already been with Disney for a year and I felt It was time to change up my act there. Blind Cubed came to mind as the perfect closer, but was I ready to do it again? The past 3 years I had explored so many possibilities, angles and combinations of scenarios that I could potentially run into. Like most things I do, I dove in headfirst and gave it a go. My first night with the cube I was super nervous. Wiggling my way through it just to get the first one out of the way. I did it and it was a extreme success. It went way better than I had ever anticipated. The routine had now officially come to life and a new journey was a foot.
That journey is still going on today as I write this. One and a half years later the routine has grown and evolved tremendously. I'm happy to say all the hard work has paid off on this one.
The creative process is different for every trick or routine. Some take as much as 4 years of work and some take four weeks. The the real growth come from performing the trick every single night. It will go wrong and there will be something to learn, every time. Failure can generate progress and ideas flourish in its shadows. Interestingly enough sometimes more than one person comes up with the same idea. Funny little universe isn't it?
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***Kardenni - A magician in Orlando.