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DVD Review: Xtreme Beginnerz

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DVD Review: Xtreme Beginnerz
If you want to learn flashy card flourishes to dress up your magic routines or establish a foundation in xtreme card manipulation (XCM), Ellusionist's latest DVD, Xtreme Beginnerz, offers an excellent teaching tool. This two-DVD set offers hours of first rate instruction and tips from experts De’vo, Jerry Cestkowski and other pros. And beyond moves, talks about hand care and fitness and even promotion.

With no tricks or routines, Xtreme Beginnerz teaches a wide variety of card flourishes-a virtual and visual encyclopedia of flashy moves for beginners and intermediate performers. The Charlier section teaches the basic one-hand cut, and then serves an amazing array of variations that include the Double, Running, Open Book, Double Book, Double Flop and Triple Flop, along with special “closes” (methods of bringing the deck back together).

Moving onto the table, the DVD presents variations on all manner of cuts: Square, Scissor, Thumb, Flapjack, Swing and Pivot, along with Ribbon Spreads. There’s also the Flick and Pop Opener, an eye-catching way to pull cards out of the box and present them. The Utilities section offers variations on Deck Twirls, Deck Divisions, Cross-handed moves, Packet Throws, Turnovers, Trips and Flipbacks.

I was intrigued with the Flipbacks where the hand is turned over and the deck is laid to rest on the back of the hand. From here, you can toss the deck in the air and catch it, or reverse the procedure. Either way, it’s a flashy and unusual move. There’s also a chapter on Perching-techniques. Here, you extend cards from the deck and then throw or rest other cards on top of them, which result in amazing and visual combinations. Perching is something that I had never before seen.

On the second DVD, the Fanning Workship discusses cards and their condition and then explains the various fans: Thumb, Pressure, Twin, Giant and Production and various closes. There’s also in-depth discussion on the weave or Pharoah, which serves as the foundation for the Giant Fan.

I’ve been performing card fans for years in my stage and close-up acts and often receive compliments from audience members about them. But Cestkowski embodies perfection in his fanning work that is downright intimidating. Looks like I need to practice and polish my fans. Cestkowski provides a standard for all to shoot for.

The DVD shows how to perform card springing and armspreads and related catches. I was particularly enamored with the Flash Drei move and its associated Impossible Stack Close-something of a multi-part, “Sybil”-style cut, but flashier. I’ve been practicing this one. Jeff McBride makes an appearance and teaches his Salamander Combo and Daryl also presents his Hot Shot Cut. McBride’s contribution is flashy while Daryl offers an eye-catcher that has real-world application.

Wind Elementals involve spinning cards over fans (the electronic kind that physically move air). Elementals have little practical performance value, but provide fun diversions. The DVD says that the pros use Elementals to spur their creativity.

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