'I am having difficulty with making my hands and arms look natural when performing. When I perform a magic trick involving showing or holding something, my arms tend to squash up and seem too close together.'
No quick fix for that I'm afraid Matthew, but it's awesome that you have identified it and want to take steps to fix it too.
That's 'performing tension' and is quite common Matthew. You need to learn to relax whilst performing.
One of the biggest causes of stiff arms or hunching up of the body, whilst doing a magic trick, is thinking about what you are doing whilst you are doing it.
It's an instinctive response from the time when we all lived in caves. When you feel insecure and need to concentrate, your brain thinks it's in danger. It's sending signals to your body to get ready to escape. Your body tenses up, like a spring, incase it needs to take sudden emergency action. But how do you get rid of it?
It's not easy, is it? You have to pay attention to the audience, remember the moves, check you are doing it right, and say something interesting whilst you are doing all this!
The cure is switching over to routining your magic rather than practicing. That means you need to go through the whole routine, including patter from start to finish. You do this in a slow, natural way, over and over again. Over time, you become very familiar with the WHOLE performance and your body will relax.
Seriously consider filming your performance of the trick to an imaginary audience. Do this 15 times. Don't stop or tweak the performance mid way through. Pretend the footage this is live going out on TV. Afterwards, watch it back and see how much you have relaxed the tension in your arms between the first few full performances and the end ones. That will show you the power of routining rather than practicing just the moves.
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