Monday, July 31, 2006
Sweden - Cards sailed through the air to the rhythm of Chopin, and a rabbit - predictably - was pulled out of a hat as contestants from China to the Virgin Islands on Monday kicked off the World Championship of Magic.
The prize: lucrative contracts for stage shows in Las Vegas, Paris and Monaco.
Some 156 magicians from 64 countries are taking part in the main event, while thousands of others are performing in public shows, street acts and even workshops.
The performers each get 10 minutes on stage to impress a panel of judges, with the best advancing to a final session on Saturday, when the winners will be decided, said Dag Lofalk, president of the organizing committee.
Seth Engstrom, 18, is competing for Sweden in close-up magic, where magicians use slight-of-hand and small objects such as cards and coins. The other section of the main event is stage magic, with grand illusions involving humans and other props.
"It is always the creative ones who win," said Engstrom of his idea of mixing card magic and Chopin's piano music. "They want you to come up with new ideas."
The contest is closed to the public, but followed closely by the more than 2,500 magicians - from as far away as China, New Zealand, Macau and the Virgin Islands - who have gathered in Stockholm for the event.
The championship began in 1948 and has lately been held every three years.
Magicians use the event to learn from each other - but keep their closely guarded secrets to themselves. The public will get their share of magic, nonetheless, with hundreds of magicians taking part in shows, lectures and workshops, and doing tricks on the streets and in parks, Lofalk said.
"This is the first time we try to open the event up a bit more to the public, to give them a chance to see the acts as well," he said.