Archives for posts with tag: Demo Team

Good Yester-morrow!

Over the last couple of months, on weekends, I’ve been working with two of the students at my dojo, Scott and Hayden, on developing some demo routines. The first we decided to tackle was expanding and refining a sequence of knife defences that they put together one class. It brought me back to the days when I was just starting on the demo team at Dynamic Arts, and reminded me of how far I’ve come (in a less prideful way than that sounds). My first practices were spent sitting and watching as the students who were already on the team practised their routines and got more help from Sensei Lachapelle than the rest of the school. Eventually the other newbies and I got to join in on the fun, starting off learning their foundational routines in which places would be found for us, to eventually being integral parts of an exciting new routine, to finally performing individually, or at the front of a group. It was quite a journey, and its sad that it ended the way it did.

But maybe I shouldn’t say ended, since now I’m getting to pass on what I learned there, and what I’ve learned other places to a new generation, and maybe build a demo team that’s as good as what we had there- or even better!

So, with that in mind, here’s a slightly outdated video of Scott and Hayden performing their knife routine:

Looking at it now (a few weeks after actually filming it) little things are starting to bother me, many of which we’ve already fixed or improved. I’ll post an updated one next week, showing where they’re at now.

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How you doin’?

Anyways, I’ve been well at least. Glad to be coming to the end of this term. The hour commute has been somewhat of a drag, and I’m finding it very hard to make time for the things I enjoy. However, I am appreciating the free time I do get more than I used to. My plan of getting up early to do my workouts is going somewhat alright. I’m still sleeping in some days and having to make it up that night, but I think overall I’m getting more rest and freeing up more time (somehow) which is good.

This week, I’d like to talk about something off topic (at least as far as this blog has been concerned), and that’s performance. I’m currently preparing the demo team for their first performances, and reminding myself of some of the important aspects I’ll need to take into account when designing their routines. I have more experience performing magic (at least lately) so that’s the angle I’m going to take on it.

I’ve had an interest in magic since I was rather young, and I first started learning it with some seriousness when I was 9. Of course, this seriousness was no more than learning the mechanics of an effect and practicing in front of a mirror. It took me quite a while for that interest to develop into any sort of talent, and I still would not say I’m particularly talented, at least compared to other performers. However I am getting better, and Ienjoy it more every time. In fact, I had a performance on Dec. 3 which my lovely assitant (and girlfriend) was also a part of. I feel it went quite well. The reasons behind a show going well or not, are often difficult to discern, especially for the performer. Things that we think will go over stunningly, fall flat, and occasionally we miss an opportunity to amaze because we don’t realize the effect we’ve had on the audience.

One thing that is tremendously more important than the magician is the audience. If they’re not in the right mood, then the show will bomb. No matter how impressive the magic is, the show will bomb. That is not to say that the performer is not responsible for this. It’s up to the performer to get the audience into the right mood for some hot, hot lov- err magic. The best way that I’ve found to do this, and which I have blatantly stolen from other performers, is to make them clap. Literally. I go up, I make a joke about audiences being so amazed that they forget to clap, and then I tell the audience to applaud three times: first for a small trick (their polite applause), second for a regular trick (their regular applause), and last for an absolutely mind-blowing trick (their thunderous applause). The thing is, I don’t do any tricks. I just tell them to clap as though I had. Most of the time they’re perfectly content to do this, and even enjoy it by the third time. This puts them into a mood to enjoy the show, and puts me into a more comfortable mood to perform.

The cute factor can play enormously well, in a similar way to making the audience clap. When I tell the audience to clap for me, there is something fishy about that. However, when I tell them to clap for the young man who has volunteered to be a part of the next effect, there is nothing negative for them to feel. It is a little kid who is probably quite nervous, and the audience is more than willing to assuage that by applauding. Every little bit of applause improves the show, and this is no different.

Another thing is knowing how to pace your show. It’s very tempting to rush, especially when you’re unconfident in your material. This is something I used to do, where I would do probably twice as many effects, and none of them would get as good of a reaction as a single effect does now. The audience’s interest will follow the pacing of the show, and if they’re curious about something, then allowing a  time delay before revealing it can build their interest higher. Moving too quickly can lose interest before it’s been built..

Similar to pacing, is structure. If I go out, and conjure a cloud of smoke, from which a dark entity appears, and reads the minds of everybody present, that would be impressive. If I follow that by finding a card, it will fall flat. The order that effects are done can have a large impact on how they are perceived. An audience can only be so impressed, and if they’re less impressed than they were a moment ago, they will show it. Each effect needs to build on the previous. That is not to say that every routine begins better than the last ended. It will follow more of a wave, where overall the impression should improve, and within any one routine the impression improves. This is also why its important to clearly show when you are done with one effect, and when you are beginning something new, because the audience expects  a certain amount of lull between effects and will forgive that, however they will not forgive a lull inside of an effect.

Lastly, music is important. It gives the show a more professional feel, and helps to allow silences without losing the audience’s attention.

So, what does this have to do with the demo team?

Well, applause can be used in a similar way, having effective cues for the audience to applaud. Some of the members of the demo team are younger, and their youth will be fully exploited… for the cute factor. The pacing and structure of the show will need to be carefully planned out. Lastly we’ll need a rocking soundtrack: all Katy Perry, all the time!

Anyways, here’s my weekly recap:

Monday:

  • 190 push ups
  • 160 sit ups
  • 22 rounds of Seipai
  • 10 minutes meditation
  • 11 acts of kindness
  • 6 rounds of sparring

Tuesday:

  • 130 push ups
  • 160 sit ups
  • 10 rounds of Seipai
  • 11 acts of kindness

Wednesday:

  • 160 push ups
  • 160 sit ups
  • 16 rounds of Seipai
  • 20 minutes of meditation
  • 8 acts of kindness

Thursday:

  • 160 push ups
  • 160 sit ups
  • 16 rounds of Seipai
  • 50 minutes of meditation
  • 10 acts of kindness
  • 8 rounds of sparring

Friday:

  • 160 push ups
  • 160 sit ups
  • 16 rounds of Seipai
  • 18 acts of kindness

Saturday:

  • 9 acts of kindness

Sunday:

  • 320 push ups
  • 320 sit ups
  • 32 rounds of Seipai
  • 9 acts of kindness

So, for Week 7, I did 1120 push ups, 1120 sit ups, 112 rounds of Seipai, 80 minutes of meditation, 76 acts of kindness, and 14 rounds of sparring.

Cumulatively, I’m at 7010 push ups, 6840 sit ups, 685 rounds of Seipai, 725 minutes of meditation, 339 acts of kindness, 69 rounds of sparring, and 30 km of jogging.

I fully expect to spend the last few days before my grading focuse almost entirely on jogging and meditation, though it would help to take care of some of that sooner rather than later. I just find it so hard to justify sitting and trying to avoid actively thinking when I have so much else on my plate. I suppose that’s really no excuse though. Ah well.

Oh, I almost forgot! Here’s what I’ve been listening to lately, eagerly anticipating their new ablum in the new year:

So, until next week, cheers!