One of the most beloved, difficult, and all-around intriguing tricks that any magician can do is levitation.
Making objects levitate, making people float into the air unexpectedly; it’s all fascinating stuff that brings out the best reactions from your audience. It’s simply mind-blowing to most people.
So, how do magicians actually make people and objects levitate?
There are still some trade secrets for specific performances that we don’t know everything about, but in this short guide, we’re going to tell you everything that we do know about making people levitate, and how to make yourself appear like you’re levitating.
Do They Really Levitate?
No, of course not. They’re either using mirrors or machinery to levitate.
While a magician can use a simple mirror and the right angles to make it appear like they’re levitating off the ground by a few inches, there’s a bigger spectacle at play here, and that’s making other people levitate.
We’re going to go over a step-by-step guide on making someone else levitate, and explain the magic behind it, right after we discuss how to make yourself levitate with mirrors.
You’re Smoke in Mirrors
Seriously, you’re going to use mirrors.
With a box and a mirror positioned on the side of it, you can project a reflection from a nearby wall or building to give the appearance that there’s nothing underneath you.
This might require a bit of positioning to get it right, so it’s best to start in an indoor space.
Lay with your stomach on the box like you’re going to lean in to do a push-up. Position all of your weight on your abdomen, and slowly raise your hands and feet off the ground at the same time.
The main trick here is to ensure you aren’t letting your shirt hang over the mirror and ruin the illusion. Push up, “levitate,” and then lower yourself back down.
How to Learn the Levitation Trick
You have to have specialized machinery.
You can use a tall and slender mirror to make yourself levitate off the ground a few inches, but you’re here to make something larger than life, so we’re going to raise somebody else off the ground.
The main thing with this is knowing where to move your hands so that nobody suspects a thing.
You’re going to have to master this technique in the step-by-step guide while knowing how to operate a mechanism with your feet. Don’t worry; we’ll explain it all.
Why do You Need the Levitation Trick in Your Magician’s Arsenal?
It always makes the crowds over the moon. They love this, because visually, it’s completely impossible to detect anything wrong. You’re making a person
Have you ever noticed that all magician’s assistants are usually wildly attractive, slender women?
These girls weigh about 90-100 lbs in total, which is much less than a grown man weighs at an average of 160-180 lbs. It’s all for a reason.
In total, you need three assistants. Because you’re using a good amount of misdirection here, you want stunning women to be your assistants, wearing as little as is allowed.
A beautiful woman always draws attention, and in this instance, you have three. Your assistants need to be trained on what to do here to make this work.
The hardest part of this trick beyond the choreography is your own movements. You’re going to be in control of directing the attention of the crowd and maneuvering a hoop.
If we’re being totally honest here, the assistants are doing just as much as you are.
Step-by-Step Guide on Levitating for Magicians
First, before we explain the steps, we’re going to explain why it works so you know the reason behind each of these movements.
First of all, you need an S-shaped metal tube on a series of hydraulic lifts, which can be operated from a floor pedal. Don’t have that lying around?
Yeah, we didn’t think so. It’s not an inexpensive piece of equipment to get, which is why professional magicians are usually the only ones doing these tricks.
You hoist someone up on a platform that’s connected to this conveniently designed metal tube and hydraulic lift, and cover the stand with your own body and a sheet.
You operate the lift with your own feet, and at some point, you very cautiously bring a hula hoop over the girl and back around to “prove there’s nothing holding her up.” Ready to actually break this down?
You’ll have a platform to stand on that’s about one foot off the ground (sometimes just 8”).
This will have the hydraulic lift coming out of it, which will be controlled by foot pedals. The lift then has a horizontal S-shaped piece of metal that’s connected to a board-like table.
This goes around you and where you stand, but also provides a spot for where our hoop is going to go later.
The board will look like it’s behind held up by the backs of two chairs, and you will also have a chair positioned in front of the lift at the same time, giving the illusion that these chairs are holding up the board.
You should have three assistants. Two will come out and distract the crowd (just for showmanship, not for any tricks just yet).
The third will come out, stand on the center chair, and then sit down on the board.
She will wave to the crowd and act identical to how your other assistants act so that you can see a change in her demeanor in a second.
The magician then walks up to the assistant sitting on the table, who will act accordingly. You put your hands up in a Vader-like force position, and she will immediately stop moving, and her smile will drop.
The magic is that you’re the one controlling the ebb and flow of the night, so people believe you will also control the levitation.
Walk around the table to the back of it and stand in the right spot at the hydraulic lift.
Keep your hands up. Your assistant will then lay down flat like it’s a bed, and her eyes will close when you drop your hands.
No More Chairs
Your other two assistants will now remove the chairs. Ideally, one of them will quickly remove the center chair while you’re walking around the table and putting your third assistant into a trance.
Once they come back over to your table, have them each lift one end of the tablecloth over the entranced assistant. This cloth was previously used to hide the hydraulic lift.
After this, your assistants will remove both chairs at the same time while you’re putting your hands up, giving the impression that the table is suspended in mid-air.
Rise, My Assistant
Slowly raise your hands at the same speed as the lift will raise. Using one of the two-foot pedals, you will press down on your platform and begin lifting the table via the metal.
Once the table is completely lifted, one of your assistants will appear with a hula hoop. People often think that this is just a trick with suspension wires, so it’s time to prove them wrong.
Hoop, There It Is
Run the hoop around the girl on the table, all the way through to the other side. On your end, the hula hoop will go into the divot of that S-shaped metal.
When you reach the end, you’ll twist the hula hoop around and pull it back over that piece of metal in the opposite direction. Hand the hoop back to your assistant.
Now, perform the same rising trick but in reverse. Use the other pedal, and use your hands to lower the table.
Once your table is about ⅔ of the way down, your assistants will calmly reappear with the two chairs to “prop up the board.”
When they place the chairs down, the table will ideally descend on top of the chair backings.
Now, you use your magic to break the trance on your assistant that’s on the table.
While you’re doing this, your other assistants will pull the cloth back down so it can cover the lift when you’re done. Once your assistant “wakes up,” she will sit up and wave back at the crowd.
That’s the entire levitation trick in a nutshell.
A More Diverse Magician’s Playbook
You need an arsenal of different tricks to get started.
Coin tricks, card tricks, and levitation are enough to get you started and get people interested in your act(s).
While it’s going to be significantly harder to try out levitation tricks on the street, you’ll still be able to stun a crowd if you get a small gig and have some amount of stage area for some mirrors.