Some Personal Highlights from EMC Day 2:
There's so many, but it's late, so I'll limit myself to 10:
10. Steve Cohen, Guy Hollingworth, and Eric Mead: Steve and Guy generously shared 2 utility techniques from their own acts that are going to be put to use immediately to solve two problems in mine. Eric magically treated me to something I'd thought I'd never see: Tim Conover's Cylinder and Coins routine--it rendered me speechless. Thanks, guys--you're brilliant!
9. Bill Kalush: When you find out that the roots of "Unshuffled" go back to the 16th century, squabbles over "I invented this" or "I invented that" seem a little void of context. (Like that disrespectful poster who kept trying to embarass a presenter some goofy claim that he invented the technique the presenter was lecturing on). Great, scholarly work in an all too short talk. More please!
8. Luis de Matos: Like Berglas, NOTHING is too much trouble! Simply stunning.
7. Graham Jolley: spilling the beans over some small (but really, really important) touches on Countdown that didn't make it into print. Was scribbling into my copy as he spoke. Also, his handling of the crib shows the difference between magician thinking and how laypersons think--excellent lessons here.
6. Max Maven's admonition to the lazy to look up the definition of "panache" themselves, since they apparently couldn't be bothered to pay attention during his set. You tell 'em, Max!
5. Bill Malone: He got right up there and said: "I've been doing magic for 32 years, and I've learned so much." That really made an impression on me: if a master performer like him is learning stuff here, how much more should I be learning?
4. David Williamson: The Quacky the Duck saga left me in stitches, but there was a very poignant message there if folks were listening. It also factored very much in who he is as a performer. "There could be worse things..."
3. Gaeton Bloom: If you couldn't tell, I LOVE these sessions where creators share how they create their masterpieces. Here, he showed the development, hard work, and lightbulb moments that resulted in his baby, the Intercessor. It's true what they say 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. He also gave one killer unpublished application that I ain't gonna tip because I'm going to fry you with it if we run into each other.
2. Eberhard Riese: Herr Riese went through his systematic way he helped some of his award winning students develop their acts (Franklin, Topas, etc.). His exploration of stagecraft for magicians was a systematic, practical introduction to a very meaty subject. I know this stuff is old hat to those of you with acting training, but for this close-up kinda guy, it was a revelation how much of it I can apply right now. Liked it so much, I ordered his book right after the talk.
1. Tina Lenert: As I wrote above: her talk on the development of her famous "Mop Man" act was the BEST, most inspiring magic lecture I've ever attended. It's just amazing the level of thought, the attention to detail, the blood, the sweat, and the tears she has put into birthing such a classic. She even went through the specific beats of how she intentionally inhales and exhales during particular points in the act. How many of us can say we've through through our own performances like that? And that's only, but one example of her commitment to the art by someone who didn't even consider herself a magician. She closed with a moving quote from Maya Angelou that should be engraved on every performing artist's heart, as deeply as it so obviously is on hers. Do yourself a favor and see this lady give this talk at your earliest opportunity and/or order her "Connecting the Dots" lecture notes. Just can't say enough good things about this experience: Bravo, Tina, BRAVO!
On the (slight) downside: technical problems persist, but with nearly 2,000 attendees, it's amazing they aren't worse.
On a more mixed note: I really like the chat function: it's neat to see the immediate enthusiastic reaction by the crowd to what's going on. However, due to video lags, sometimes you end up reading comments about what's going to happen in 90 seconds, which sometimes spoils the fun. In addition, the chat function does encourage a lot of kibitzing, which is also fun. However, it is distracting to see people commenting on everything but the act that is currently going on. It makes me wonder if some are just missing out on the gold that's being passed along in the interest of lame jokes and less-than-respectful comments. Hint: when the camera cuts away and you see the pros there paying rapt attention, maybe we should too. I'm not perfect at this either, but maybe we could limit comments to what's actually going on (although with the lag that may be hard.)
Finally, I just feel priveleged to be a part of this. A few years ago, all of this wisdom would have been wasted on me. However, as I've matured as a person and as a performer, I've become more obsessed with looking for ways to improve what I already do rather than chasing the next big thing. To me, that's what EMC provides: a room full of experts talking about what experts talk about amongst themselves. I'm just giddy to be a fly on the wall and absorbing lessons that I can use in my quest to be better.
Thanks for your patience with this long post (and thanks to Damien for describing everything--and for passing along my earlier comments to Tina :) )