A Recent Performance 'Breakthrough'

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Jay Sankey

So the other night, I was hired to entertain people at an engagement party happening in an elegant bistro in Toronto's West End.

And instead of 'getting right to work' the moment I arrived as I usually do, I arrived a little early, and while sipping (half!) a glass of wine I truly just 'hung out.' I chatted with people, nibbled hors d'oeuvres, and really felt like I was just another guest at the party.

Then after about 20 minutes, I was chatting with a few people and (right in the middle of the conversation) I slipped a pack of cards out of my pocket and started doing some flourishes in a VERY low key manner. And the entire evening really just built from that small, 'unintroduced' and 'unperformed' magical spark. I can't express to you the degree to which I did NOT feel like a hired entertainer!

I gave myself more permission than usual, just to follow conversations away from my unusual skills, and towards whatever people really felt like chatting about. Even during the magic and mentalism effects, I would open things up for other small things to happen.

I also performed more flourishes, and dared to create much longer pauses and silences around 'magic moments,' than I usually do. In addition, I found myself digging deep into my repertoire and really mixing-up my sets. And the variety warded off that all too familiar feeling of a 'walking through a routine.'

And even when I made a few 'mistakes' ("There are no wrong notes."-Miles Davis) I responded in a totally chilled fashion. When I forgot to load a card into my pocket for Carlyle's 'Card To Pocket,' I loaded the palmed card into the pocket while pretending to show people an 'invisible card.' And when I linked a borrowed finger ring onto a borrowed spoon 'Stirring Silver') and BIG TIME flashed a few people looking over my shoulder, I just turned to them, winked, and said, "That was for you."

The result? I felt closer to the people, and further from the idea of a 'Magician.' And I guess ultimately, more like a fuller version of...me! And as for the responses to the magic, people screamed more, laughed more, and asked for more business cards than usual. It was so exciting!

Looking back, I think it had a lot to do with how UNdramatically I first slipped my toe into the 'performance waters.' It was also a reminder about the dangers of having too detailed an idea of what exactly I'm supposed to be doing, and how I'm supposed to BE at a gig.

More than ever, I really focused on being relaxed and helping people FEEL GOOD. And the magic tricks, well, they were just one of many tools I used to make that happen.

It was a great night!