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UI alum brings magic to RiverFest

BY JOSIE JONES | APRIL 22, 2010 7:30 AM

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Nate Staniforth doesn’t get inspiration from fellow magicians. Instead, he gets it from filmmakers and such musicians as Bob Dylan.

“I don’t want to be the next David Copperfield or the next David Blaine,” the professional magician said. “I don’t want to do what’s been done before in magic. I want to do my own thing.”

Staniforth will perform his magic at 9 p.m. today in the IMU Main Lounge. The Campus Activities Board is sponsoring the free event for RiverFest 2010.

The University of Iowa alum graduated in 2005 after studying history and religion, but he says he knew he was going to be a magician even before beginning at the university.

“Once you love something, and you know that’s what you want to do for the rest of your life, you have a responsibility to do it,” he said. “And do it as well as you can.”

Staniforth’s interest in magic took off when he was 10 after he wrote a report on Harry Houdini. The assignment, he said, opened his imagination to the things magicians do, including their ability to astonish an audience.

“It was like I was struck by lightning or something,” he said. “I became obsessed with it.”

Growing up in Iowa, the magician didn’t have anyone to teach him the art. But he doesn’t see the lack of magicians as a hindrance — he enjoyed being able to create much of the magic on his own.

His first trick was a simple disappearing-quarter act. Even with an easy illusion, Staniforth was still able to get the reaction he wanted from his audience. That hasn’t changed.

“One of the incredible things about magic is that it can reach anybody,” he said. “Anywhere in the world, people react to magic in the same way.”

Staniforth compared his shows with performing street magic for 600 people. And when it comes to such a large audience, the UI alum feels his magic isn’t focused on fooling the audience but more on sharing an experience with them.

“It’s not about the magic trick. It’s about what you can communicate with the magic trick,” he said. “It’s a way of connecting with people.”

Jim Arns, the Campus Activities Board’s variety and entertainment director, believes Staniforth’s best quality is his ability to interact with the audience through a diverse range of tricks.

“What’s nice about him is he does a variety,” said Arns, a UI senior. “He likes to get people involved with his shows.”

Staniforth’s ultimate goal is to share the passion he has for the art.

“I’m not doing magic to save the world,” he said. “I’m doing it because I love it. And if I could honestly communicate how much I love this and how much it means to me to the audience members, I feel like they have to like it, too.”

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