What is Balducci Levitation


Artist rendering (with the background removed) of the Balducci Levitation,
named after Ed Balducci

The Balducci levitation is a levitation illusion first described by Ed Balducci. Its inventor is unknown. It is a spontaneous magic trick popularized by many magicians such as David Roth, Paul Harris, and David Blaine.

The actor stands at an angle away from the audience. The actor seems to be floating a few inches above the ground. The effect usually does not last longer than five seconds. The performer's feet return to the ground and the effect is complete.

Advantages and disadvantages [edit]

Other levitation methods allow greater heights, longer durations, and better viewing angles (see definition of angles from list of incantation terms) for performance; However, most of these methods can only be done on a stage because of the need for special equipment or settings (such as wires). Balducci levitation does not require any preparation and can therefore be carried out spontaneously - anytime, anywhere. Although variations have been made to enhance the illusion of true levitation, they are generally more difficult to perform and some require gimmicks or adjustments that make them less practical than Balducci levitation.

Misdirection [edit]

Like many magical effects, this illusion is mainly based on a subtle misdirection and the actions of the performer.

These psychological subtleties increase the likelihood that viewers will believe the illusion:

  • The viewers are informed in good time if the performer wants to float.
  • The performer pretends to be careful in choosing a location to perform levitation.
  • The performer pretends that performing the levitation is difficult and physically demanding.
  • The performer emphasizes the fact that no gimmicks (wires, etc.) are used and recommends examining the performer's area and clothing.
  • The performer provides a reason for the audience's position: a warning that they may fall and will be asked to catch it.

These physical subtleties make levitation seem more amazing:

  • Viewers are misled by the performer's method because they focus on the movement of the feet and the space that appears between the feet and the floor.
  • During the “landing”, the actor hits the ground hard with his feet and bends his knees to convince the audience that the actor's feet are higher in the air than they actually were.

The effects of these subtleties can be seen in David Blaine's televised performances of this illusion. For example, a viewer is asked how high Blaine was floating. It points to a height that is obviously a few inches higher than the illusion can create, and shows that subtleties can often lead to a viewer's interpretation of an effect being better than the effect itself.

The magician positions himself at an angle to his audience, a little further away, so that the audience can only see the back of one foot and most of the other foot - and hides the toe end of the "distant" (backstage)) Foot. The target audience needs to be small enough that they can be grouped closely together. The magician lifts the “near” foot off the floor with the back of his feet held together and stands only on the front of his “far” foot (which is partially hidden) while he lifts the back of the “far” foot and hold the whole "near" foot and ankle together. The audience sees only one foot and the other's heel (the “distant” foot) appearing to rise from the ground. The hidden part of the "distant" foot (backstage) bears the magician's weight as it appears to float an inch or two.

Simply put, the wizard stands on the front of one foot while lifting one foot and the visible part of his other foot and blocking the view of the front of the support foot with the other foot and the back of the support foot.

The Reverse Balducci The illusion is similar to the Balducci illusion, but the wizard watches the audience at a 90-degree angle instead of looking away. The wizard slowly stands on the heel of his "far" foot while lifting his "near" foot and the front of the "far" foot. To improve the appearance of the effect, the magician tries to keep the near foot parallel to the ground.

Another variation that is sometimes shown on TV shows is to play a normal “Balducci”, film the audience's reaction, come back later and perform the illusion with the help of wires to get more height or a front shot or to make below. These recordings are incorporated into the footage of the original performance, exaggerating the levitation effect while still using real viewers in the recording.[1]

There is a principle in theater magic: "The audience will often remember or describe an exaggerated effect."[citation needed] - Therefore, when viewing the combined footage later, viewers may not notice the increased height caused by the “fake second shot” (if the extra height is no more than a few extra inches) because they believe they are a real replica of the see performance. This is all the more likely if, during the original performance, the cameras are in the same location as those from which the “fake” footage was later captured.


Ed Balducci published the first known description of the illusion in July 1974 The Pallbearer's Review (Volume 9, Number 9, p. 755) under the name “Impromptu Levitation”. Balducci ended his description with the words: “Originator unknown. It was shown to me many years ago by one of the Harmonists, a cousin of mine, Erwin Levine, known as the Baron. "

Despite Balducci's disclaimer, the illusion has since been known as the "Balducci Levitation".

Known variations [edit]

Appearances in popular media [edit]

  • The "Reverse Balducci" is performed by Wade's crew members in the film You were served.
  • The "Reverse Balducci" is listed and mentioned by name in issue 25 of the comic series Y: The last man.
  • Hotel Babylon S3E7 shows a character (Dan Black) loosely based on David Blaine performing the illusion in the elevator. later one of the main characters (Anna) shows the other hotel staff (but not the viewer) how the illusion is carried out.
  • In the movie John dies in the endWhen Dave goes to a party and hears a girl gasp with a man just floating off the ground, Dave asks how high and mocks, “Let me guess, about six inches off the grass, right? Balducci levitation? "

References [edit]

External links [edit]