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  • Writer's pictureMadison Hagler

Deep Magic Seminars: Winter 20/21

If you haven’t heard of the Deep Magic Seminars, you’re not alone. After reading Less is More (reviewed last week,) I found myself wanting to learn more of Ben’s material. I quickly found his website and saw that he has close to fifty hours of teaching in video form in his Deep Magic Seminars. These Seminars last for a season and include 4 different topics. Each topic has 6 hours worth of magic teaching across four sessions. The sessions were originally streamed live on zoom.

This is a review of the Winter 2020/2021 package which is their most current season of seminars at the time of writing. The four topics for this season are: Brilliant Basics 2, The Art of Palming, Deep Coin Work, and Nothing but Effects.

Brilliant Basics 2 -

Session #1: Controls and Additions - Basic card control, riffle shuffling to retain a stock, additions to packets from the top and from the face, the Braue Addition, The Vernon Addition, additions with a palm, the Elmsley count, the squiggle, an Ascanio open display, and then two effects: a memory test and a streamlined Hofzinser Ace Problem

My favorite points here were the top and face additions and the Vernon addition. I never thought I would be excited about adding a card beneath a packet, but his touches will forever change how I approach it. His Vernon addition is a small touch that makes a huge difference. Instead of feeling studied and stiff, he makes the Vernon addition feel incredibly casual and relaxed. These are the types of small details that take your magic up a notch. If you’re a beginner, you may not appreciate the value of this section, but if you’re a pro, you’ll immediately understand how effective all of these changes are.

Session #2: Switching - Tip over change, Fred Kaps switch and variations, Ben Allerton switch, a simple switch, a single card muck, four for four packet switch, gamblers switch, variations on the Jinx switch, Le Temps/Talazac switch

I have used the tip over switch for years while doing Ben Earl’s triumph routine from his old "Past Midnight" DVDs. His triumph is my go-to effect and has been for a very long time. Part of what makes it so effective is his use of the tip over switch. It always flies over everyone’s head. The first variation of the Fred Kaps switch fooled me badly on first viewing. It looks totally natural. If you’ve ever been afraid of mucking, the version taught here is easy to do and doesn’t have any of the jerky motions usually associated with with hand mucking. Plenty of useful information here. It’s up to you to figure out where to use them.

Session #3: Multiple Card Control and Switches - Le Temps/Talazac as a multiple control, Multiple Toss Control, an effect “The Anywhere Deal,” Marlo Elias multiple shift, lift shuffle to control multiple cards, The Grismer cut, casual open placement/mischief control

The stand out on this for me was the Talazac control and the Toss Control. These two controls each feel natural and totally unstudied. I think the Talazac control is one of the most deceptive multiple card controls I’ve ever seen because of the fact that it’s over long before anyone knows anything has began. It gives you a ton of freedom and allows for any number of cards to be controlled making it perfect for any multiple revelation routine.

Session #4: Control Revisited - Side steal, the side steal to full palm, the side steal from a break, the triple dribble pass, the invisible pass, and the shuffle pass

The work taught here is more challenging than previously, but that’s the point. I truly believe that Ben doesn’t use these techniques as much as the others in his own work because he seems to prefer more of a psychologically invisible control rather than a physically invisible control, but once again, he does a brilliant job of adding subtleties to make all of these physically invisible controls as psychologically invisible as possible.

The Art of Palming -

Session #1: Welcome to the Art of Palming - Palming positions and techniques, holding out, natural movement, Deck position and framing, initial practice drills, and psychology

Ben has one of the most natural palms I’ve ever seen. There are many times while he’s teaching that I couldn’t tell if he had a card palmed or not. There’s a lot of valuable information here even for the most advanced palming artist. Ben’s refinements give you naturalness like I’ve never seen from someone palming a card.

Session #2: The Top Palm - Vernon/Erdnase top palm, natural action palms, gesture palming, one handed top palm, the berg palm, the Erdnase multiple top palm, the Loewy palm, the ruffle turnover palm, replacements

This is the best teaching of the Vernon top palm that I’ve ever seen. These are the details which are so often missing from other teaching sources. With knowledge of these techniques, you’ll always be able to find the perfect palm for your needs.

Session #3: The Bottom Palm - Invisible Bottom Palm, Turnaround bottom palm, end riffle bottom palm, swing cut palm, paintbrush palm, one handed bottom palm, the cop, right handed bottom palm, replacements

I have never seen the bottom palm explained in this way, but finally, it all makes sense to me. The method Ben is using isn’t difficult to understand the basics of, but practice will certainly be necessary to get it to a workable place.

Session #4: transfers, Steals, and effects - palm to palm transfer, small packet palms, the diagonal palm shift, the side steal to full palm, and effects

The effects taught here are A+ material. They are a little too “hands on” for my personal liking, but I think many people will get a thrill out of performing them because of the very fact that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than those watching will ever realize.

Deep Coin Work -

Session #1: Coin Fundamentals - An approach to magic with coins, Fingertip Rest, Classic Palm, Finger Palm,Thumb Clip, Fingerclip Palm, Downs-web Grip, JW Grip, Edge Grip, Purse Palm, Back Clip, Deep Back Clip Practice Sequence, Coin Roll

Effect: Gorilla Coins

You can see from the sheer volume of things taught that this is an epic masterclass in coin work. Ben starts the session by exclaiming he dislikes coin magic, and then goes on to show wonderful coin moves. It was funny, but also it is something that resonates with me. He says he doesn’t do coin magic; he does magic coins. That’s a philosophy I can stand behind. The teaching here is second to none. This is perfect for a beginner just getting into coins; it provides a solid foundation for everything to come.

Session #2: Vanishes and Steals - The French Drop, La Pincette, The Retention Vanish, The Ramsay Vanish, Goshman Toss Vanish, The Flo Pitch, Hybrid Variations, The Robinson Vanish, Bertram Steal, Simon Steal, Isolation

Effects:The SDS Vanish, Pocket Time Machine

The nuances here are to die for. The small shifts in the “why” behind the vanishes make something truly remarkable and the SDS Vanish is by far the most magical coin vanish I’ve ever seen. It looks like real magic. This coin vanish wins the WTP Award.*

Session #3: Switches, Loads, and Transfers - Vanishes as Switches, Roth Shuttle Pass,Thumb Palm Switch, Thumb Palm Toss Switch,The Palm Switch, Bobo Switch, Open Switching, L’Homme Masqué Load,Transfers, Holding Out

Effects: A Coin Bend, Metal Switch

The two effects in this video are merely an examination of all the principles taught. You can pick and choose from any of the discussions in the session to make the two effects your own. There’s a ton of methods to choose from when deciding how YOU would do the two effects that are taught here.

Session #4: Evolving Coin Magic - Evolving and simplifying coin magic through three effects: Three Fly, Exhibition Coin Across & Primary Movement

The thoughts in this session are the most inspired of all. This takes you through Ben’s evolution of three fly and how he kept simplifying and kept simplifying until he has an effect which is the pure essence of the original. This is the kind of work happening in magic that excites me. His coin across is a thing of beauty and his way into it guarantees it will be a moment the spectator will never forget. This is something I will remember and use often when the moment is right.

Nothing But Effects -

Session #1: Choice Effects - New Four Card Impossible, Selected Time Travel, Findlay Finish

These are three incredibly simple effects which are strong, but not particularly memorable. I would say these are three effects that belong in the middle of a set. They are simple workers that will fool any lay audience, but they aren’t going to get you terribly excited.

Session #2: Impossible Outcomes - Red Herring, Face Value, Memento

Red Herring is so simple any beginner could do it, but it is structured in such a way that it will fool almost any magician that sees it. It has a simple plot and a clean structure. It’s an almost perfect piece of magic. Face Value is THE BEST two card monte out there. The timing here totally changes the game. I have been using the two card monte for a long time, and I have already implemented these changes to shocking results. The reactions have quadrupled after making these changes--it's that good, and it is another piece of almost perfect magic. Memento isn’t as much my style as the others. It involves the spectator signing both sides of a card. After some magical moments, one of their signatures changes to the performer’s signature.

Session #3: The Shift Sampler - Deep Transposition, Octopus, Slow Roll

Deep transposition shows the difference between showy sleight of hand and invisible sleight of hand; the latter being impossible to separate from magic. It’s a great presentational framework for a two card transpo. Slow roll is a principle which only comes in handy with a certain type of deck. It’s a great tool for when you want to utilize this technique, but it isn’t the type of trick you can do FASDIU. Octopus is my favorite from the group it’s Ben’s take on Out of Sight Out of Mind which is one of my favorite card tricks and one that I often use. As Ben often does, he has added subtleties and nuance to simplify the effect and make the lasting impression significantly stronger in the spectator's minds. He has taken all of the weak points of OOSOOM and replaced it with psychology. Now that said, these changes mean that the end of the trick MAY go a different direction than you intend, but 90% of the time, it will go exactly as you hope thanks to the psychological components that have been added. Octopus wins another WTP Award.*

Session #4: Ace Overture - Simplified Ace Cutting, Hand Built By Trees, No-Motion Ace Assembly

Simplified Ace Cutting is exactly that. It looks like you’re genuinely doing what you say, but it uses a method that involves little more than holding a break. It’s wonderful. I have already talked about my thoughts on No-Motion Aces. Check it out in the Less is More blog post. Long story short: I love it. Hand Built by Trees is Ben’s take on Joel Given’s wonderful Ace cutting routine that ends with a kicker no one will see coming. I was familiar with Joel’s routine, but Ben’s handling still fooled me. The biggest benefit this offers over Joel’s is that you don’t have to switch anything. It’s great and I’ll be making it up to play with for sure.

Overall, these seminars are a welcome addition to the magic world. I love to learn more about Ben’s way of thinking; seeing his meticulous attention to detail is inspiring and can take any performer—regardless of ability—to the next level. I hope there will be more of these in the future. Until then, I’ll be away watching the 24 hours of material in Season 1: Summer 2020.

*The Worth The Price Award, or WTP Award for short, is a new system I will have in place when reviewing products. Look out for the WTP Award(s) to know which routine(s) or principle(s) is my favorite.

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