For thousands of years people have seen magicians take inverted cups and make little balls appear, vanish, penetrate solid metal, then end with the suprise production of large fruits or even live birds.
It has long been said that you can judge the skill of any magician by the way they perform the Cups and Balls. Sadly, many modern magicians have never felt the joy that comes from mastering this classic effect. I ought to know; ten years ago I too would have fallen into that category.
I mean, certainly I could do the simple routine with the little plastic cups, but I thought the “true” effect with metal cups and final loads was too bulky for close up. If it weren’t for the fact that my job as a magic instructor forces me to learn things outside of my comfort zone, I might never have experimented with these concepts, and that would have been my loss.
Since then I have been obsessed with the underlying principles at play, and I have made some significant discoveries that have completely changed the way I look at the effect. I would now say that it is one of the most practical effects I do, even impromptu. Part of the reason is because I no longer bring my own cups…or balls…or loads. I have found ways to improvise everything.
You can break most routines up into some very straight forward categories: Transfers, Loads and Steals. Once you understand these fundamentals you may find yourself looking at many everyday objects as potential props for your act.
Before I continue, here’s a number of classic fallacies magicians use to stop them from learning this effect:
Q. I’ll never be able to do it because there are too many moves.
A. While there are many possible moves, you can get by with just three. Seriously.
Q. I never perform anywhere where this is practical.
A. As long as there is a surface with a 6″ square of space, you’re good. Also, there is no rule that says you can’t go all primal and perform it on the floor.
Q. Everybody knows how the trick works because it is in every beginner’s book or kit.
A. While the basic trick is popular, it offers little help in deciphering a professional routine.
Q. It’s obvious how the trick works, if you know where to look.
Q. Cups and Balls routines are always too long and confusing.
A. They don’t have to be, but there are some awful versions in existence. (Hint: Don’t do them.)
Q. The props are not “natural” and are too much work to lug around.
A. While carting around a wand, metal cups, knitted balls and final loads may be a bit off-putting, many of these items can be improvised in such a fashion as to improve the sense of magic. After all, they see you just grabbing stuff off the table and it becomes magical. Also, it is a misconception to believe it must be a 3 cups routine; you can work wonders with 2, or even 1.
This is a Clinic, so you do not need any prior knowledge or ability. The main point is to give you an overview of what the world of Cups and Balls has to offer:
- Covered Object = Massive Power
- Harnessing the Single Strongest Strategy Available in Magic. (No joke.)
- Seek And Ye Shall Find: The True Value of Teleportation Effects
- Build Your Own Routine: Understanding Cups and Balls Structure via Inductive Reasoning
- Dice, Grapes, Bills, Pen Caps…Covering the Small Stuff
- Bowls, Hats, Napkins, Shoes..All the World is a Cup
- Fruit, Fowl, and other Final Loads: How to get the most from your Finale’
As an added bonus to this Clinic, feel free to play “stump the band” by bringing items you would like to use in a Cups and Balls type routine. I’ll see if I can make them work.
Again, the goal of this session is not to teach you moves, but to show you possibilities. Once you see the full range of options, I can’t imagine you won’t want to immediately incorporate these ideas into your working repertoire.