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According to Dictionary.com, a virtuoso is “a person who has a masterly or dazzling skill or technique in any field of activity.”
Originally, though, the word refers only to a highly accomplished musician. Today the meaning of the word has expanded to include other fields of arts, especially the performing arts.
Wikipedia has this to say about the evolution of the word: “Once more commonly applied in the context of the fine arts, the term has since evolved and can now also simply mean a “master” or “ace’” who excels technically within a particular field or area of human knowledge—anyone especially or dazzlingly skilled at what they do.“
It is in this modern definition of virtuoso that I present to you the videos of three virtuoso performances by three virtuoso magicians.
There are many other magicians out there who may also have virtuoso qualities. They possess the same skills and mastery of the art, but these three that I offer to you as specimens of virtuosity are, in my opinion, the finest of the lot.
This Peruvian magician and Illusionist is arguably the most dynamic performer of his time. His presence alone excites audiences. His gestures and stage movements are sometimes florid, but they are always so fluid they never fail to dazzle those who are lucky to catch his performances.
In contrast with today’s young performers’ slam-bang style (fast, furious, and ear-splitting music), Lance Burton performs his winning FISM act to Vivaldi’s Four Season, a melodic, swaying, classical music.
He moves oh-so slowly but with the elegance of a royalty. He does not attempt to outpace the eye with speed. He rather dazzles the audience with the exquisiteness of his movement.
The day I went to see Blackstone when he came to Manila many years ago, he performed several big, spectacular illusions, elevating his show into a magical extravaganza.
But among the acts he performed that night (and he performed them all impeccably), the most unforgettable to me was The Floating Light Bulb. He did it with such elegance and panache that his performance stayed etched in my mind like an engraved tableau many years after I saw it. The Floating Light Bulb had been playing in my mind over these years repeatedly like a long-running show.
Indeed, any magician worth his wand knows how the trick works, yet Blackstone’s performance always enthralls the connoisseurs of the art. It’s not the secret but the magic he created through his artistry that fascinates fellow magicians. The way Blackstone charms the knowledgeable when he disproves the method transforms his performance into a piece of art and wonder.
As I remember it, Blackstone first floated the light bulb onstage. Then he upped the ante by going down to the audience, allowing random members to handle the light bulb. Immediately after taking it back from them, he floated the light bulb just inches away from them—while he was in the middle of the floor surrounded by the audience!
The ultimate miracle, of course, happened when he went back onstage. He told the audience he’d show them something really amazing provided they promised not to touch the light bulb.
Thereupon he released the electric bulb from his hand. It then floated away from him and, impossibly, into the awe-struck audience. It hovered over their heads for a moment or two before it slowly floated back to the stage. On it’s return trip, the light bulb passed through a ring held by Blackstone before it finally rested in his waiting hand, just as the closing notes of the background music faded.
A masterpiece of magic, movement, music, theater and artistry!
When Blackstone took his bow, I remember the audience’s reaction was near pandemonium. I think it took close to a minute for people to calm down and be ready again to watch the rest of the show.
It was the most amazing and magical spectacle I had ever seen in my whole life. I felt like a little child again. Over the years, every time that performance plays in my memory, I always feel like a child once more.
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