Monday, March 30, 2015

Students learn disappearing acts upon other tricks

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
673d ABW Public Affairs

3/30/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A magician pulled out a deck of cards and asked an audience member to shuffle the deck, choose a card and shuffle again.

During the performance, the audience member wanted to shuffle the deck himself, thinking the magician would cheat.

What the magician didn't know was his assistant from the audience had a plan to sabotage the trick.

The man gleefully shuffled the deck, but half of the deck was face up and the other face down with the intent of making the trick difficult for him to perform.

The magician knew what he had to do.

He waved his hands over the cards and split the deck in half.

What the crowd saw next would fill them with awe.

All of the cards were in perfect order, and the card the man had chosen was the only card face down in the deck.

The magician is Richard Kennedy, an information specialist working with the 59th Signal Battalion, and this is one of many magic tricks he teaches to children during his magic class.

Any child interested in magic can participate in Kennedy's classes organized through the Youth Instructional Program on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. With only a few children participating when Kennedy began teaching the class, today more than 10 attend the class regularly.

"This class I am teaching here at the Illa School Age Program has been an ongoing commitment since 2012," Kennedy said.

Kennedy has been teaching his skills to others wanting to learn magic for more than 25 years.

"I teach the children the fundamental principles of magic," Kennedy said.

Blaze Byrne, son of Brent Byrne, an Amerisafe safety engineer, is one of Kennedy's current students.

"I found out about the class through Cub Scouts, and Mister Kennedy did a magic show for us," Blaze said. "I like the class, because we are learning about all these types of magic tricks I have always wanted to know how to do."

Blaze said he especially likes working with cards.

"My favorite part about the class is performing for my other classmates when I do my card tricks," Blaze said. "I recently won a trophy during one of our magic contests for my card tricks, and Mister Kennedy has nicknamed me the Card Man."

Three times per year, Kennedy allows all of his young magicians to star in his magic showcases.

"I pick those who I believe to be the most thriving and passionate students of mine to perform with me at the Frontier Theater," he said. "A lot of the show is made up of stage illusions, which I have a set up to teach my classes how to properly execute the magic tricks we will be doing."

Although he is a professional magician, he said he wouldn't be where he is today if he hadn't developed a penchant for magic at a young age.

"My interest with magic began on my sixth birthday," Kennedy said. "My grandmother bought me a magic puzzle kit, but I knew it wasn't magic because at the time magic wasn't supposed to be a puzzle. At a young age, I knew magic was supposed to be mystery and not puzzles."

Following his first encounter with magic, Kennedy became a self-taught magician.

"I would go to the library and check out magic books," he said. "In the magic books, they always said not to tell anyone the secrets. I would get in trouble, because I would never return them so no one would know those secrets. I wasn't a thief by any means, I was just trying to protect the secrets of magic."

At the age of 14, the young magician met his mentor through a high school friend.

"He was doing a simple card trick and told me his dad was a magician," Kennedy said.

He decided to visit his friend's father to show him what he can do.

"I performed the only good trick I could do at my age and he was really impressed," he said.

From that encounter Kennedy had a mentor to help him improve his magic.

"I learned a great deal from him," Kennedy said. "And he helped me start performing magic, professionally, at my young age. It grew from there, and I have been performing for the past 33 years."

Since becoming a professional magician, Kennedy has been performing all over the world in Europe, Canada and throughout the U.S.

"I think the biggest things magic teaches, and what I have learned throughout the years of performing magic, is it helps children gain self esteem, creativity and using critical thinking," Kennedy said.

For more information about the magic class or other classes, contact the Youth Instructional Program at 384-7482.

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