David Blaine is not the originator of this illusion.He has made the illusion popular, once again, with his recent televisionspecial, "David Blaine: Street Magic." The unfortunate realityis, however, that we neverreally get to see Blaine performing the BalducciLevitation. We watch severaltimes as Blaine performs it for others, butwe never get to see it for ourselves.
For the television special, Blaine performed the Balducci levitation in front of several different groups of people, and the camera was thereto catch their reaction. The method he used for this is the Balducci method, described below. While videotaping these various performances, the producers keyed in on the audience members with the most visual reaction. After the Balducci levitation, the producers of the show had these same people stand by for another taping of the illusion - this time the camera would shootfrom behind the audience members to get a
clear view of Blaine in action. The audience members were told that thissecond performance was to show them how magicians could use wires tolevitate.And this is exactly what happened. A small harness and rig (justout ofcameraview) was set up and Blaine performed a standard wire-suspension.
What Blaine did was a camera trick - known as a post-productionedit.The audience at home watched the second (wire suspension) levitationperformance,with the audience reaction of the real levitation edited in.It was said,in the television special, that no strings or wires were usedto performBlaine'slevitation. This is true, no wires or strings are required.
Other than a few camera edits, Blaine did a wonderful job with his firsttelevision special. This is one magic special worth owning on videotape. http://davidblaine.com
The Balducci Levitation is an illusion that can be performed almost anywhere, anytime. It uses no wires, strings, rigs, camera tricks, etc.
The illustrations at the right show you the audience point-of-view.
This is a highly restrictive, angle-sensitive trick. You have to practiceyour angles over and over to get used to them. One bad angle or position and the illusion is blown!
In the television special "David Blaine: Street Magic" theyshoweveryone having 'cows' over Blaine's levitation. What they don't showyouare the countless times Blaine screwed the trick up. It is easy to geta badangle - even more so when you're performing for several people.
Figure 1 shows the start of the illusion. Stand about 8 to 10 feet awayfrom the audience at a 45° 'backward' angle (as shown in figure 1). You pause . . . and then slowly start to float (figure 2). You rise 3 to5 inches off of the ground before you suddenly "crash" back downto the ground.
When performed correctly, this is about as close to "real"magicas you'd ever want to get.
Balducci Levitation - Solution
All you do is pretend to "float off of the ground while you tippee-toe on just one foot (the foot furthest from their view) as shown below. Believe it, or not, this looks GREAT! The small audience can not see your supporting foot because it is hidden by threethings: your pants, the angle of the trick and your closest shoe (whichhides their view of the foot being used to "levitate" you.) You might onlyrise 3 or5 inches off of the ground, but it's all in the presentation! Youwill want to slowly rise off of the ground . . . wait just one secondandthendrop fast. Stay up too long and they will probably figure it out.
This is what the Balducci Levitation looks like during performance. The position
on the left is the start of the illusion. The position on the right shows the climax
of the levitation.
Another thing. Don't just walk up to someone and say, "wanna see me float?" You must first show them, say, a bunch of card tricks. This will let you know if you can perform the Balducci Levitation for them, or not. If they tend to grab at the cardsor seem to go out of their way to make magic life difficult for you, thenyou do not want to show them this trick. They will blow it for you, andeveryone else. The Balducci Levitation requires a respectable, responsiveaudience - people that like, and want, to be entertained. Part of beinga good magician is knowing who not to show a trick to - no matterhow much you want to show it to them. You show them a few card tricks first(or something of the like). This establishes a "magical" mood, lets yousee if they are 'in the mood' and sets them up for the big one. After seeinga bunch of "small" stuff they will never
suspect a levitation. This is what blows them away! After a few card tricks, simply have them stand together and then set up for the illusion. "Can everyone see my feet?" is something good to say at this point. "Everyone watch me while I float!" is probably the crappiest thing you could say.Never tell them exactly what to do (this way, they won't be trying to figureit out before you even get started).
Practice in front of a mirror, or better yet, in front of a video camera on a tripod. Set the camera at eye level and perform for the camera several times. This will help you learn your angles much faster, and better than a mirror. Better yet, let a friend in on the trick and have him/her videotape your performance.