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Open Sesame: Whiff of European magic in Indian capital
Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS
New Delhi, September 03, 2009
First Published: 10:52 IST(3/9/2009)
Last Updated: 10:54 IST(3/9/2009)

They make cars disappear, walk through levitating people, make butterflies fly out of TV screens...You guessed right - they are magicians! And they are here from Germany with a trick or two up their sleeves.

"One has to turn a trick into a magical act to touch the viewers' heart by weaving a meaningful story around it. Good magic needs skill, power to communicate, technology, imagination and glitz," master illusionist Julius Frack, the winner of the World Magic Championship 2009 in Beijing, told IANS.

Frack is part of a team of six award-winning magicians from the German Magicians' Circle who are in the capital to showcase the best of European magic at the Magic Gala Sep 4-5 at FICCI Auditorium.

The young magician is known for his "Walking Through a Girl - Levitation Act" that earned him the world champion's title this year.

"My stage partner Cindy levitates in the air in a supine position and I walk through her. This complicated magic requires special theatre and props. But the act is original," Frack said.

Contemporary magic, observes Frack, relies heavily on technology, manipulation - the use of hands as a magical tool, mind power and the gift of the gab, as he shows a simple "illusion act" with a candle and thread.

"Dream is a fantasy - and fantasy is illusion," he told the audience at a preview as he passed a "white length of cotton thread over a candle flame".

"The thread burns because it cannot resist the flame," he said as the cotton strand snapped into bits. "But this thread also gives us an idea about eternity," said the illusionist as he bunched up the burnt bits and "joins them again into one whole strand".

Frack, who has been in the trade for the last 17 years, has trained under German master Eberhard Reise.

Dr Marrax, a portly wizard dressed in a black top hat, long black coat, black medieval riding breeches, matching boots and an ancient pocket watch chained to his vest, is a "parlour magician", specialising in 17th, 18th and 19th century European street and boudoir magic.

"I usually perform in markets and in private drawing rooms. Parlour acts are very popular in the West because I weave funny stories around my tricks," Marrax said.

"Modern magic is fusion of fun and therapy. I often hammer nails into my head for my street shows like the Indian fakirs. It cures depression," says the aging wizard, who will perform his vanishing tricks at the Chandni Chowk market and the New Delhi railway station.

"I also want to talk to Indian street magicians," he said.

"We may not be able to make an elephant vanish like Indian master P.C. Sorcar does because Germany does not have elephants, but we often make cars vanish on Germany's streets," Marrax, a resident of Stuttgart, laughed.

Alexander Sofalvi, an amateur magician, says Stuttgart is Germany's magic town with more than 50 resident magicians. "It is also the country's most popular hobby," he said.

Andy Haussler, a leading mental magician, said: "Name any date and I will tell you the day," he said.

"Sep 4, 1948?" asked magician Ashok from the Indian Brotherhood of Magicians who was present at the conclave.

"Saturday," replied Haussler. The Indian magician confirmed it saying "it was his birthday".

Then there are Uri Geller and Timo Marc.

Marc, a visual magician and abstractionist, fuses art and television with magic. "Two of my shows, Crazy Shadow Act and Blue Visions, are famous across the world.

"I paint my dreams, mostly butterflies, on the television screen. After some time they start moving on the screen and eventually fly out of it. It is a bit of illusion, visual abstraction and manipulation - and a great stress-buster," Marc said.


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