Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"The World's Great Magician"

An adieu to Carl Ballantine (1922-2009)

As Orson Welles wisely stated: "every magician is the greatest magician in the world".
The Great Ballantine (born Meyer Kessler) presented himself as such at the beginning at his act. Just to follow seven minutes of the worst possible exits for a magician's act. And in doing that, he consecrated a star on the stages of dying vaudeville and rising television: the rubber chicken.
As a zen priest, he dedicated 60 years of his life doing every day the same act: until his fictionary character sculpted himself on his face, body and voice, becoming more believable than truth. Until every smile and laugh from the audience became a sure-fire turning point of a little piece of art through the minimalist craft of the repetition in front of the most unpredictable audiences. Of his generation, only giants as Mac Ronay and George Carl can be compared to him.

When a magicians passes away, a wand is traditionally broken by colleagues on his grave.
What is broken here is not just the prestige of a glorious magic wand. It is also another link to an era and style of perfection in performing arts that never will be back again.

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