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November 11, 2011

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Modest 'King of Magic'

CHINA'S "King of Magic" is 70-year-old Fu Tenglong who appears on state television galas, but he prefers to call himself just a magic "enthusiast," not a master.

Fu was born into a family of famous magicians in Beijing. His father Fu Tianzheng was a celebrated conjurer who taught him basic magic. Over the years Fu has created more than 100 programs and feats of escape and illusion. His family's magic is considered part of Beijing's intangible cultural heritage.

Fu attended a magical forum last week at the 7th Shanghai International Magic Festival and competition. He and famous conjurers from around the world looked into the crystal balls and discussed trends in magic, challenges and opportunities for China's young magicians.

Q: Magic has a long history in China and despite pop entertainment, magic remains compelling. Why?

A: Curiosity is a universal human characteristic and I think magic has flourished because people are curious. I am proud to draw on Chinese culture for inspiration in new magic programs. The future of magic is partly rooted in its past, especially the Han (206 BC-AD 220) and Tang (AD 618-907) dynasties. Fireworks, paper and pottery were used in many traditional magic performances.

Q: Many people are keen to expose the secrets behind magic on the Internet. Is that a problem?

A: Exposing the secrets of magic is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the beauty and charm of magic lies in mystery - that's an important part of the art form and should be retained. On the other, exposing some secrets about props and skills of magicians can generate enthusiasm among young people. It can encourage creativity.

Q: What makes a good magician?

A: It usually takes a long time to become. First, a magician should first perform with all his heart. He should not focus too much on the trick. He should know what the audience really want sand form a relationship with them. He should also enrich his life experience, broaden his vision and understanding of the world. A good magician should always have a passion for the art form when he performs.

Q: What's are the trends?

A: I believe magic shows will continue to emphasize their connection and interactivity with the audience. Magic shows will feature more elements from other genres of theater and the arts.

Q: What's your advice to young Chinese magicians?

A: Young conjurors need all-round familiarity with Chinese culture and arts before they perform magic on stage. It's not easy to rise to fame. They should be patient and never lose faith in creating original and entertaining programs.

Q: What are your plans?

A: My son and I preparing for next year's CCTV Spring Festival gala. It will include animals and plants.


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