By Lisa Henderson and Nicole Veenstra
Who knew that a magic wand and a magic marker could serve the same purpose? About 425 Rider students learned this is true during illusionist Leon Etienne’s performance Monday in the BLC’s Cavalla Room.
Etienne, a 24 year old New York native who has appeared on MTV and Nickelodeon, performed magic tricks for his audience, ranging from a basic card trick to creating electricity with his bare hands.
He remembers when he first decided that he could make a real career out of his passion.
“When I was 12-years-old, I was grounded by my mother and I was bored out of my mind, so I started reading a magic book,” Etienne said. “It really is that simple. After that, I was hooked. All the way through high school I did birthday parties and paid my way through high school with it. When I had to do a project in high school, I put together a community magic show.”
The crowd Monday was very receptive, laughing along and offering applause after every trick.
“I thought it was cool,” junior Mike Hinds said. “He did tricks, but was funny as he did them.”
Etienne also took a moment to share with the audience a story from his childhood. When he was 13 years old, he was struck by lightning. He said he is often asked if that is the reason he has the capability to perform magic tricks. He does not believe so, he says, but the story captivates his audiences.
“He was funny and I really liked how he got the audience involved a lot,” senior Camellia Kuban said.
“I thought his performance was believable,” junior Olivia Santoro said. “I liked how he made jokes the whole time, too.”
Assistants were pulled from the crowd, allowing the audience to get even more involved.
One student was asked to strap Etienne into a straightjacket he had pulled from behind his display. Once secured tightly, Etienne proceeded to force his way out of the jacket and toss it to the floor. The audience instantly responded with thunderous applause.
Etienne also took a moment to teach the entire audience a magic trick. All one needs is an Easter egg with a small hole carved into it and two handkerchiefs of the same color in order to successfully stun his or her family and friends.
“I was pretty impressed with the illusionist,” junior Meaghan McCrossin said. “Some of his tricks left me speechless. I have no clue as to how he does it.”
Throughout the entire show, Etienne shared his life story while encouraging students with talents to never be discouraged, but to pursue whatever interests them.
“Do what you love,” Etienne said. “No matter who tries to stop you.”