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How Do Quick Change Artists Change So Fast?

Ready...Set...Change!

Let's face it – we all know that there's no such thing as magic. Or at least, we're supposed to believe that.

But when we see quick change artists like Dania Kaseeva and David Maasit can be hard to figure out just how people can totally change their outfits quicker than Superman (and oftentimes without a phone booth).

The quick change artist is an individual that changes from one outfit to another faster than you can blink.

While seemingly simple, this magic act creates serious awe in those that witness it both live and in videos.

So what is the trick going on here exactly?

Prepare to join us in an exploration of quick change artistry, part magic, part dance, and full. But first, here's a bit of history on the art of quick change to provide context to the tricks involved with the performance itself.

The history of quick change

The skill of Quick Change dates back many hundred years, and as best we can tell, there's evidence of quick change all the way to the 15th century.

Quick change in kabuki theater

The Japanese kabuki theater began in 1603, with primitive performances by a shrine dancer named Akuna, but the usage of Quick Change was most likely not introduced until 1629 (when women were prohibited from performing kabuki).

You can see remnants of quick change in kabuki theater here in modern performances. While the kabuki version of 'quick change' isn't quite as significant (and fast) as the modern dedicated quick change artists, it still serves as an interesting precursor to the ever-growing phenomenon of late.

Here's an example of what a kabuki quick change may have looked like:

As you can see, this type of quick change isn't trying to pass as magic. In this clip, there are obviously a number of hands from the black-clad kuroko helping the actor change so quickly.

But even in basic changes like this one, one of the key facets of quick changing is clear – the strategic use of costumes that makes lightning-fast changes possible.

Possible origin: Italy

From 1895 until 1922, the finest quick-change artist of his day was the Italian actor and mime Leopold Fragile (1867-1936), who utilized quick-changes on stage and in front of the camera. There are still a few minutes of these videos available.

He was the first musician to turn this unexpected talent into a full-fledged nightly performance. At the height of his career, he was playing 60 different roles in the same program.

That's some serious magic!

What exactly is quick change?

magician

"There are two kinds of performers: the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind and the rock-star, professional kind." Most of the performers you've probably seen are the latter.

Ok, but how do quick-change artists actually do the quick changes you see?

Fine – let's get into the nitty-gritty.

Before we do though, understand this: it's impossible to know exactly how any given quick-change artist does their performance.

Because this act falls under the umbrella of magic, not every secret can be revealed!

Also, every magician does things a different way, so there is no one way that quick change artists do their magic trick. But without further ado, here are some theories we have for how quick-change artists change so fast.

Theory #1: They use special clothes

The secret behind quick change artists could lie in the clothes themselves.
You have probably seen someone who has changed their outfit in a flash. This is due to them having special clothes that are able to be ripped clean off and perhaps clothes underneath them.
A combination with this and some sleight of hand, the artists are able to create an illusion that they are switching entire outfits in an instant.

What do special clothes do?

It's not just the clothes themselves, but the layering of one costume on top of the other.

Snaps or velcro are typically stitched into the side seams, and multiple sections are occasionally sewn together.

A three-piece suit, shirt, and tie, for example, are formed into a single layer that can be torn off behind a tiny raised curtain in one moment by releasing the velcro.

The suit is tossed to the ground and covered by the curtain when the curtain falls on top of it, revealing whatever costume was beneath the outfit.

All these little shortcuts embedded within the clothes themselves help make the trick work!

Theory #2: They have special pockets or a stagehand who helps them

We'd like to believe it's just them switching clothes in an instant but let's not forget that there is a full crew helping with the production of the show.
A stagehand could be helping them change certain parts of the clothes while the actor is using a combination of special pockets or rip off clothing to switch quickly.

Theory #3: There could be MORE THAN ONE PERSON

Okay, we know that this theory sounds kind of crazy, but it has happened before!

Stunt doubles or even twins have been known to share the stage with magicians and do things like 'transporting' or even the classic 'sawing someone in half' is done with another person.

There could be a way that the person is using a double to accomplish the desired effect. And when your whole career is dedicated to magic, you can find some pretty clever ways of accomplishing this in a way that can trick many people!

The fact is we may not find out exactly how they do it

OK, so here's the thing.

While we've given a (we think) solid overview of how quick-change artists change so fast, the reality is that no one really knows how modern quick-change artists like Lea Kyle pull of their act.

There is lots of speculation and theory, but very little empirical evidence to back any of it up. Now we've got new research that says a thing or two.

As noted in the intro, we've known for a while that the ability to make a quick change is a very real thing. What's been hard to understand is why some people are able to pull off quick-change acts and others are not.

Why magicians can't reveal secrets?

tarot, cards, magic

It is important to not reveal too many of a magician's secrets since it is disrespectful to the artists and furthermore we don't think the audience will even enjoy it that much.

The audience wants to have a good time. And yes, there is some fun to learn about how magicians do their work, but it is also just as fun to be dazzled by the show of it all and not worry about the secrets.

Learning magician's secrets makes it hard for other magicians to do their work

A magician’s secrets getting revealed can have devastating effects on the industry if another magician is using a similar tactic.

Once you've spoiled the trick you give the audience a clue to how another trick could be done, which could spoil the whole act of a magician who has been working months on their routine.

The power of magic

@cleytonewerton

Professional magic is still magical in its own way. Yes, we know that the magician isn't actually performing something supernatural. But the mystery has been relegated to a question of engineering: 'How did they do that?' And that can still be very fun to marvel in.

Furthermore, knowing the secrets of magic is not the point of a magic show. There are plenty of other things, such as comedy or music that the magician will entertain the audience with.

We really encourage you to go out and support a live magic show since these shows can be full of awe-inspiring showmanship. We guarantee that you will walk away from the show with a feeling of enchantment with or without knowing the secret!

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