The Magic of Lance Burton
One of the finest magician / illusionists I have had the privilege of seeing was multi award-winning performer Lance Burton. He will earn his place in the history of magic for his fine contribution to our craft. He won his first ‘Gold Medal of Excellence’ award at the I B M convention in 1980, then went on to win the prestigious ‘Federation Internationale des Societes Magiques‘ (FISM) Grand Prix in Lausanne Switzerland in 1982. I was privileged to witness that presentation where he performed a beautiful, classic dove act. This led to his becoming a star performer in Las Vegas where he had his own show that ran for 9 years at the Hacienda Hotel, followed by his 13 year run at the Monte Carlo Resort. He performed over 5000, shows for 5,000,000 people just during his Las Vegas career.
Lance Burton had many television appearances, appeared in Knight Rider, and many late night talk shows with Jay Leno and 10 times with Johnny Carson. Lance was always the consummate, gentleman performer whose magic tricks and shows attracted family members of all ages. He could be described as a fine, wholesome performer, and may be remembered for his daring escape from the tracks of one of America’s highest and fastest roller coasters, Desperado, with only a fraction of a second to spare that could have spelt disaster. It concluded with him saying to the camera, “I must have been stupid”. But what a magic trick that was. During his career he earned millions of dollars that goes to show that with will and determination, drive and talent, it is possible to learn important magic lessons through lance Burton’s magic.
So many lessons come to mind from performers like Lance Burton. His magic interest began at age 5 that led to 11 years of study and diligent practice before he became semi-professional at age 16. This shows what dedication to an art form can achieve, provided we have the energy and drive to follow through with our dream and working towards that dream as Lance did. While his boyhood friends were out playing baseball or football, yet not completely neglecting sport, Lance put in many hours of practice. This suggests that we may have to sacrifice something we like for success as performers. In his early years he had a mentor, a magician named Harry Collins who guided and instructed him with different aspects of magic.
Working with a mentor can certainly help, so never be afraid to ask a fellow magician if they would be happy to mentor you. Most magicians are prepared to share their skills and knowledge provided you are committed. Magicians share a unique worldwide fellowship and help each other with the development of magic tricks.
In my teens I also had a magician mentor briefly whom I used to meet at the Wellington Public Library in N. Z. (while cutting night school classes – but don’t recommend this) Alan Norman would take me through different moves and sleights that I would have a week to practice before the following meeting. It was during these mentoring sessions that I learnt all about magic etiquette. The importance of always having clean fingernails and hands, clean polished shoes, neat appearance and pressed trousers. One only has to see how Lance Burton always appeared on stage, immaculately turned out in traditional gentleman’s attire, complete with top hat and tails. This gives the impression that you respect the audience and yourself. They will in turn respect you and your art. It was Shakespeare who once said that “Clothes maketh the man”, an adage that is as current today as it was then, a lesson for all magical entertainers to follow. Always be the best dressed person at every show you do, develop a dress sense commensurate with your performance. Following Lance Burton’s style could put you in a class of your own, yet allowing you to choose a costume that suits your own act and your personality. Looking good gives you confidence just as it does for Lance Burton. One of the best lessons I learnt from Lance Burton is how to dress well for my show and it’s a lesson you can learn too.
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