When we perform, we all tend to have a constant rhythm or tempo that we stick to most of the time. Some of us are full of energy and run at a fast pace. Many magicians present their magic at a more thoughtful, steady speed. The tempo and rhythm of your magic depends greatly on your performing character and persona, but being aware of it, and in a position to control it, can greatly help your performance.
Back in 1918, Stanislavski realised the usefulness of physically and emotionally adding richness to your act by the creation and control of tempo-rhythm. Stanislavski saw the tempo-rhythms of anything physical or vocal to be similar to that of music. Music has a range of movements like legato, staccato, andante or allegro structured in a progressing line. In just the same way, how you present your magic tricks, and the patter of your act, should have it’s own tempo-rhythm. This will make your presentation much more natural, motivate a more emotional performance, and have a dramatic impression on your spectators.
It’s about how you feel.
Often, the tempo of a performance is linked to how the magician feels. This is one of the reasons why The Merchant of Magic doesn’t recommend doing Jazz magic (working without a script or planned act) unless you are a very experienced magician. Sometimes at a gig, we are full of energy, other times we may be bored, tired or distracted. Most of the time, we are not aware of our emotional states, and don’t see that we may be performing in the wrong tempo. Being aware of our tempo-rhythm means that we can switch pace, pushing forward more energy and in doing so, feel more positive. Controlling the tempo and energy of a performance communicates to the audience, which in turn feeds back to us and reinforces our behavior.
Choosing a Tempo Rhythm.
Sometimes a particular rhythm is a deliberate choice. Dynamo Magician Impossible and David Blaine present their magic tricks in a slow steady paced tempo-rhythm. David Williamson or Gregory Wilson are the opposite, doing magic tricks in a manic state, full of energy. Choosing your performing persona isn’t just about the clothes and magic tricks you will perform. You need to choose a level of energy and pace for your magic.
You don’t need to stick to a single tempo-rhythm. Derren Brown changes tempo quite often in his stage show. Changing from a slow thoughtful or emotional presentation, to a fast paced trick that moves around the stage and has plenty of comedy.
DO THIS: If you arrive at a gig feeling tired or have had a bad day. Be aware that this may reflect in your performance without you being aware. The speed and lack of energy in your show could be signalling this negativity to your audience. Change the pace. Be an actor. Create more energy and positivity. As a result, you will find this changes your mood and the act becomes the reality.
Examine your own act and performing persona. Does it have a single tempo-rhythm? Is it right for you? How could you change a magic tricks tempo-rhythm to compliment your character?