It’s A Kind Of Old World Magic

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The Illusionists during a performance in Dubai

Illusionists wow their UAE crowd

BY Anna Yazijyan

In a progressive world, where 3D printers have the ability to design houses and even human organs, it would seem that magic has lost its charm and faded from memory. However, a team of well known illusionists proved critics wrong with their performance in Dubai, showing that magic today is as popular as it was in 1903: the Golden Age of Magic.

Thommy Ten and his partner Amelie Van Tass, the show’s clairvoyants and the 2015 world mentalist champions, spoke to Newsweek Middle East about their performances and inspirations. The show comprises three installments: The Illusionists, which is currently performing in Broadway; The Illusionists 2.0, depicting the future of magic and the Illusionists 1903, which refers to acts from the Golden Age of Magic and is inspired by such magicians as Harry Houdini. “There are always different shows and different casts,” said Ten.

The two-act show created an air of excitement among the audience, many of whom wondered about the breathtaking tricks throughout the entire performance.

The group of eight artists including the Showman (Mark Kalin), the Eccentric (Charlie Frye), the Conjuress (Jinger Leigh), the clairvoyants, the Escapologist (Krendl) and the Charlatan (Dana Daniels) took everyone’s breath away.

To make the distinction between real magic and mere tricks, performers called on volunteers to join them on stage and see things for themselves.

The highlight of the entire evening was the clairvoyants’ performance, during which a blindfolded Amelie was able to describe every object held by the audience without moving from her spot on stage. Apart from “seeing” how many cigarettes remained in a packet and narrating the serial number of the five-dirham bill, she was able to tell the expiry date on an asthma inhaler, which left the audience speechless.

To the question on how they do it, Ten replied: “It’s all about our connection. If the connection between us is strong, the act is much better. It’s like [being] in a relationship.”

“Magic is our life,” said the couple almost simultaneously, demonstrating the special connection between the two. “We travel the world with magic, we’re seeing all these different countries, we have friends from all over the world and we share magic,” they said.

The world champions can practice anywhere and any time. “Thommy [secretly] takes objects and I’m trying to figure out what’s in his head,” she said. “He’s challenging me all the time.”
Magic plays a big role in both performers’ lives influencing every aspect of their day-to-day routine. They say they enjoy figuring out new stuff together and challenging themselves.

In Dubai for the first time, the couple found their audience to be receptive to magic. “They were very fascinated and so interactive,” said Van Tass. “They want to hand Thommy their objects, they want him to guess their object, and they can’t get enough. I think we could have done that [trick] for hours and people wouldn’t have gotten bored,” she said enthusiastically.

With Arab Gulf states prohibiting and even criminalizing sorcery and black magic –since it is banned in Islam– the mentalists refuted claims that they resort to that source of magic. “We don’t do black magic, what we do is show,” both Ten and Van Tass contested.

So how does magic fare in a world filled with technological wonders?

Magic performances have come a long way since 1903. Most of today’s shows not only rely on the slight of hand, but also make use of new age technologies to wow their crowds. According to Ten, there are two types of magic performances: The 21st century magic such as the ones you see via multimedia outlets and are highly viewed worldwide. Then there is the conventional form of live performance for those who enjoy living the moment and feeling that magic in the air.

After mesmerizing the crowds in UAE, The Illusionists 1903 installation will be concluding their Middle Eastern tour in Doha this week.

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