The show starts with an applause, just like all magic shows do.
On the stage is an unassuming scruffy man, with his curled hair hanging messily down his forehead like he just woke up. He has a shirt on, a plain one, standing as a stark contrast with Las Vegas bred performers who usually don their Victorian-era tailcoats. Or at least if you are not a street magician, in which case, you’ll be wearing black.
On the table, there’s a pitcher, a cup, and a ball. Not the bouncy one, but enough to stand like a firmer version of a ripe tomato.
This routine is called the “Baltass”, and French magician Yann Frisch perfected the combination of moves that garnered him a total of 4 million views just for this video alone.
He opens the show with patterned movements like he was practicing what he was about to do. He does this over and over, in rhythmic succession before he finally grabs on the pitcher and pours water into the cup.
The water spills into the smaller container, and it goes on and on.
The cup should have been filled at this point but that’s not even what the trick is all about.
Frisch grabs the ball and tosses it out of the frame before taking a swig from his water-filled cup. His expression sours as he puts down the cup, only to reveal that the ball is now in his mouth.
If it looks dazzlingly clever, you should stay awhile and see the rest of the performance.
Frisch then starts to wonder how to get rid of this red bouncy menace that was intruding on his drink.
He began to toss it out, only for the ball to end up in his cup once more. He tried throwing it down the ground but only helplessly watches as it bounced back to the table.
The whole charade picks up in pace as Frisch’s performance began to resemble a cross between mime and circus juggling.
The more you try and figure out where he is hiding the ball, the more you get lost in movements and the sleights-of-hand that click like clockwork.
You can pause it, slow it down, or dissect it frame by frame, and you still won’t figure out where the balls come from or disappear to. It always just ends up in his mouth, or the cup, or with three more friends instead of one. His seemingly plain shirt now plays a part because, at this point, it was clearly showing that it has no extra sleeves or pockets. Actually, Frisch hasn’t moved from his chair but somehow he could still pull the balls out from thin air.
But what makes this routine so enticing to watch?
The Baltass became one of his signature acts and has catapulted him into the ranks of award-winning magicians.
In a talk in 2012, he shared the creative process the entire routine underwent.
For him, it was not just making the ball appear out of nowhere. It’s about combining elements of mime, character, body position, snappy choreography, context, and rhythm. And it elevates his performance not only as a magic show but a whole theatric experience.
Watch the routine that gave him 4 million views and try to figure out how he’s doing the trick.
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