Waltzing Cheek to Cheek (Joshua Jay) - A practical and powerful card fusion effect
OVERVIEW: One of the best effects you'll see with a "card fusion" plot is Chris Carter's Anniversary Waltz, where two signed cards impossibly fuse together. Joshua Jay has always loved Anniversary Waltz, and in Waltzing Cheek to Cheek, he's combined it with Al Leech's Cheek to Cheek. In this way he's created a suitable closer that doesn't require gaffs to be added to a deck, and can be performed without needing a table.
EFFECT: With Waltzing Cheek to Cheek, two halves of a deck are first shuffled face up and face down into each other; from which two spectators each select and sign a face up and face down card. Then all the cards are shown to have turned the same way (Triumph style), except for two cards which are adjacent - the two selected cards. Then as a final kicker, these two cards are magically fused together in the spectator's hands.
VIDEO: What you get for $10 is an instant download, which demonstrates and teaches the routine, with Joshua Jay himself providing the explanation. The entire video is just over 15 minutes long, of which the first four minutes have a performance, and the remaining 10+ minutes are the explanation. The downloaded file is about 100MB in total size, and the entire process of getting the file and watching it proved hassle-free for me. Besides the performance demo, the video recording of the explanation features Josh in a studio explaining the effect, and a variety of camera angles are used to ensure that everything is clear and easy to follow.
ORIGIN: Joshua Jay acknowledges that the origin of this routine lies in Chris Carter's Anniversary Waltz. He also gives major credit to Doc Eason, who put out the marketed version of this effect, and he had Doc's permission to put out this variation. But Josh wanted something more practical. Magicians familiar with the Anniversary Waltz routine will know that resetting the trick is one of its challenges when performing it multiple times in a walk-around setting, and what Joshua was trying to overcome was the need to get gaffs into play and out of play.
TEACHING: The explanation video explains the background behind the effect, and the hurdles that Josh was trying to overcome in the adjustments he was making to the usual Anniversary Waltz routine. He then goes on to explain how to make the deck, which will require your own gaffed cards, which most magicians will already have plenty of. Josh also gives some good tips for how to personalize the magic, for example by asking the couple the right kinds of questions before getting into the performance. It's advice like this that really will help make your performance memorable and create an emotional connection for your spectators, which is key to a successful performance. He's a good teacher, and does a good job of explaining everything you need to know in order to learn and perform this effect.
DIFFICULTY: Even though it's not a complicated trick, because the gaffed deck does a lot of the work for you, this is not a trick suitable for beginner magicians. There are some moves that aren't present in the original Anniversary Waltz to ensure that the gaffed deck remains hidden ahead of a face-up and face-down shuffle. The display of the Triumph effect is super clean and easy, but there are some subtleties that you need to do in order to get the correct cards signed. Josh also uses a different handling to accomplish this than the original Anniversary Waltz (no DLs, for example), which shows that he's done his own development and applied his own thought to accomplishing the effect. On a difficulty scale, I'd suggest that this is suitable for intermediate magicians, who should be able to master it with some practice, especially if they are already familiar with the sleights that are required.
IMPRESSIONS: The card fusion concept is a very powerful one which I've always loved. The Anniversary Waltz effect takes a performance from being just another card trick to real magic, and especially when there is an emotional hook, such as a performance for a couple, it is strong and impactful. Joshua Jay's variation preserves what was good about the original effect, while adding a Triumph effect to set up the final stage, and uses different handling that creates an instant reset. Some might think that adding a Triumph element ahead of the fusion plot takes away from it, but if performed well it can strengthen the overall effect. Most importantly, by adding this element, Joshua Jay has developed the effect into something that is more practical for a working magician looking to repeat it multiple times at a strolling gig. The only down side of getting a video download means you need to provide your own gimmicks, but most magicians will already have their own stash of DFs.
RECOMMENDATION: Certainly the Anniversary Waltz effect is powerful enough on its own, and doesn't need adjustments to strengthen the magic. But the real advantage of Josh's version is a practical one, in that it enables working magicians to use it for table hopping in a much easier manner. So while I love the original Anniversary Waltz, and the beauty of its simplicity, I can appreciate that applying a Triumph element to this routine has the real advantage of creating an instant reset, and that will make Waltzing Cheek to Cheek something worth considering for working magicians. - BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame