Cups and Balls Execution Theory and Practice

By Rafael Benatar

This three volume video set from A-1 MultiMedia showcases the magic of Rafael Benetar, a Venezuelan who now lives in Spain. Rafael is a professional magician and musician (his Baroque lute playing is featured as the segue music on the video), and he is a colleague and confidant of two of Spain's finest magicians: Juan Tamariz and the late Arturo de Ascanio. Rafael's thinking is superb, and his card handling is exquisite, especially his handling of double cards. The technical material on these videos will be of immediate use to the intermediate and advanced card magician, but the theory behind the routines will be useful to all, regardless of skill level.

The two Elegant Card Magic videos form a post-graduate course on elegant and intelligent card handling. Many routines are taught, my favorites being "Devishly Invisible" (Volume 1), an excellent handling and presentation of the "Devilish Miracle" plot, and "Right Between the Eyes" (Volume 2), a stand-up showpiece in which two spectators seem to do all the work. Many subtleties and stratagems are discussed within the trick explanations, but there are also in depth instruction for some extremely useful sleights, such as Ascanio's "Rubbed Laydown" and "Scattered Laydown," and Rafael's "Slippery Double." The latter move is one of those that looks impossible, but you will find yourself doing it almost immediately.

The Cups and Balls video focuses on Rafael's commercial routine for this venerable prop. It is obvious that Rafael uses his routine in the real world (notice, for example, his ploy for determining whether he will have problems with "grabby" spectators), and he has constructed a three-phase routine which is clear-cut and to the point. More important than the routine, however, is the theory lesson which accompanies the explanation. Whether or not you ever perform the Cups and Balls, you will gain information that you can apply to every routine you perform. For example, Rafael's explanation of Ascanio's "Acciones In-Transito" (Transition Actions) is the best I've ever seen, and it sent me back to my own routines looking for ways to apply it. In addition to the Cups and Balls routine, Rafael also explains a clever handling for Charles Waller's "A Visible Penetration" from Greater Magic (Rafael eliminates the need for a bottomless glass), and an Oil and Water routine combining ideas from Ascanio and Roy Walton. The Waller trick is a good one for stand-up, and Rafael has come up with a very funny presentation.

I think these are great videos, and I'm sure you'll want them in your collection. (By the way, check your file of the Linking Ring. Rafael had a One-man Parade a while back, and this will give you an insight into his thinking.

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