I pick the nine of diamonds and throw it back in Camilo Dominguez’s deck of cards. He shuffles faster than I can see.
He asks if my card is the 10 of hearts and I’m struck with worry – either he’s a lousy magician or I can’t remember anything beyond four seconds.
He flips the 10 card under the Bicycle playing cards box, and somehow, of course, it’s flipped into my nine of diamonds moments later. Even under the all-seeing eye of a video camera, it’s hard to spot the cool sleight-of-hand of the 21-year-old magician.
The young son of Colombia has come a long way since wowing students in the halls of Belmont secondary with his preternatural talent to make the cards dance.
Since graduating from high school in 2008, he’s honed his magic show at the Havana Club in Vancouver and is launching his first professional performances in Victoria, tonight (June 29) at the Belfry Theatre.
“I’ve tried to move my magic to a different level,” Dominguez says. “I use two projection screens and a camera so the audience can see the magic close up.”
He was drawn to sleight-of-hand as a child and attended the Bogota School of Magic as a teenager, before moving to Canada for high school. He learned the secrets of pulling rabbits from hats and sawing people in half, but he prefers the simplicity of a pack of cards.
“At Belmont I was challenging myself with the language and getting in front of people,” he says. “Now it’s more about surprising the audience with two hands and a deck of cards.”
His four Belfry performances are titled “Continuum,” based on the theme of time and connections. His setup is simple and intimate: chairs for him and an audience member, a table, a deck of cards and video projectors to make sure the crowd doesn’t miss a beat.
“For Continuum, I do tricks that are a challenge in 10 seconds or 20 seconds, whatever the audience asks for,” he says. “It’s about surprising the audience and surprising myself. Each show I try to make it fresh, but a show is set by the mood of the audience.”
His parents are travelling to Victoria to see his show, the first time they’ve seen him perform outside of Colombia. That’s a big thrill, Dominguez says, and he hopes his friends from Belmont will also come out to see him on stage.
Dominguez says despite the thematics, every performance is different and evolving. New tricks come during interactions with audience members and friends, many who just throw out odd ideas.
“My friends will say ‘make a card appear in a soccer ball or some different object,’” he says. “I go home and try to create it with the tools and skills I have.”
He is in his final semester of theatre production school at Studio 58 at Langara College in Vancouver, part of his larger strategy to make a career as a working magician. Understanding the nuts and bolts of stage management – lighting, sound, set design – can be as critical as stage presence. It all must come together before the cards come out.
“That is the most fascinating thing about magic. Anything you want, you can make it happen – with practice, of course.”
Continuum shows at 8 p.m. tonight and Thursday, and 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $20, available at the Belfry box office or by calling 250-385-6815. For more details, visit www.camilothemagician.com.