Up close with an award-winning HK magician

September 05, 2015 08:05
Henry Harrius fell in love with magic at the age of 7 after watching illusionist David Copperfield on TV. Photo: HKEJ

During an interview recently with magician Henry Harrius, he asked us to give him a coin.

This prompted my colleague Walter to quickly fish a one-dollar coin out of his pocket.

Before handing it to the magician, Walter marked his initials on both sides of the coin to make sure that Harrius cannot replace it with other similar coins.

Harrius then took the coin, placed it back in Walter's palm and wove a spell.

"Can you feel any heat? Can you feel the coin kind of moving a bit?" asked Harrius.

Walter wasn't so sure but when he opened his hand in a few seconds, the coin was bent.

It was quite astounding, but for Harrius this was just child's play, especially when compared to some of his other tricks, which include one that has won a big FISM honor.

FISM stands for Federation International des Societes Magiques, or International Federation of Magic Societies, whose prizes at an annual event are considered to be the Oscars of the magicians’ world.

Harrius fell in love with magic at the age of seven, after watching illusionist David Copperfield on TV.

Initially he started with magic books and magic sets made for kids. He then became an apprentice of Antonio Almeida, a famed magician in Macau who also happened to be a relative of Harrius.

Though he pursued Social Work studies in college, Harrius' true love has always been magic. Two years ago, he decided to turn pro.

Magic is in fact much more than Harrius’ profession. In reality, it has changed his personality.

He used to be a quiet boy, rather unwilling to talk. But a good magician is as much about clever hands as good communication techniques with audience. And without audience, magic has no meaning.

"You need to interact with the audience, build up the atmosphere. There's a lot of communication and eye contact in presenting a magic show step by step," he explains.

Harrius also learnt to perfect his timing as he performed on stage and during social gatherings.

It's always hard for young magicians to start out in the professional magic business.

"Nobody knows who you are," Harrius says.

To gain recognition and get his name out, he started to join competitions. He began with local events initially, but later moved to major international tournaments.

In the Parlour Magic group category at the FISM championship this year, Harrius won the third prize, which is no mean feat.

When talking about the work of magic legends, Harrius can go on forever.

His enthusiasm for the craft is evident in the way he waxes eloquent about various feats.

"A Korean guy shows a piece of white cloth which is slowly folded into a pigeon-like item, and then it suddenly turns into a real bird," he says. "Another guy can turn a stick into sand.”

When magicians gather, they like to chat about all the crazy ideas they have seen and discuss how they are possibly done. But when they see something truly stunning, there are moments when even professionals may just want to sit back and enjoy being surprised.

For Harrius, his performance opportunities mostly come from festival seasons and annual dinners. At other times, he holds classes. He also has a special therapy project going on that uses magic to help the elderly who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

"When practicing the moves required to do magic routines, they get to use their hands more in a fun way," Harrius says.

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EJ Insight writer