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His senior project? A magic show


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By Haley Adams



The Great Jordini has just broken the law of gravity.

Or so it appears.

He’s doing a coin trick, or an illusion, as he prefers to call it. He’s not trying to trick anyone. The illusion took him months of practice to learn, even more to perfect. But he’s not thinking about that now. He no longer thinks about technique. Through the years he’s learned if he’s not prepared now, the magic won’t happen.

But he is prepared, so he begins.

He starts with a warm-up. He holds one hand over the other, about a foot apart. Clasping a coin in the top hand, he drops the coin from the top hand to the bottom.
 
And then it happens. With his hands apart in the same position, the coin jumps from his bottom hand to the top hand.

Jordini watches for the reaction. He’s expecting either a huge, loud response or speechlessness. 

But the fifth-grade girls at the birthday party where Jordini is performing give him a hybrid.

At first they’re shocked. What they’ve seen doesn’t make sense. Coins don’t jump on their own. Gravity is supposed to pull them down. Pennies are always found on the ground, never in the air.

In their amazement, they try to figure the trick out, which they’ve tried to do with each illusion of the night. One girl tries to guess, but the others get annoyed.

“Can we do it and not try to figure it out?” the girl asks.

“Yeah to have fun?” another said.

The Great Jordini smiles. He’s accustomed to this moment after a trick. He’s a magician. He’s used to making the impossible look possible.

***


Known as The Great Jordini to some, Jordan Goldklang is a senior from the San Francisco area. He is the only student at IU, and the only one in the U.S., who is majoring in magic —  a major he created through IU’s Individualized Major Program.

Since then, he has devoted his time at IU to the major.

Tonight Jordan will present a magic show in Alumni Hall for his final project as an undergraduate. He’s hoping to sell out the venue, which holds 600 people. So far, he’s handed out 1,000 flyers, put up 3,000 posters and invited more than 1,000 people to the event on Facebook. 

***

Jordan discovered magic when he was five, following the interest of his then 13-year-old brother who stored his tricks under his bed, which Jordan found.

“Jordan got into all of his brother’s magic tricks,” said Kathleen Jermaine-Goldklang, Jordan’s mother.

Jordan became really interested in magic when he turned 13. In middle school, he was a bit of a distraction to his classmates. He liked doing magic for them, even when the teacher was speaking in front of the class. He remembers one time when an argument broke out after a card trick.

The disruption prompted the teacher to tell Jordan something he would later hear a lot: “You can’t do magic in school because you’re distracting all the other students.”

Jordan was getting in trouble more and more often, so Kathleen had to intervene. “You don’t understand,” she told the school. “You can’t take away magic. He’ll pick up anything and do magic with that.”

And he couldn’t stop. He loved it then for the same reason he does now. With magic, anything is possible, and sharing the wonderment with others allows him to reach people on a deeper level.

A few teachers took a different route with the young magician. One teacher let him do “Morning Magic with Jordan,” where he got to do a magic trick at the beginning of class each day. It was the start of his performances in front of an audience.

But before middle school and around the same time Jordan found magic, he also found the violin. He was eight, his mom said, and he played all through high school.

“For someone who hardly ever practiced, he was an amazing violinist,” Kathleen said.

The Jacobs School of Music thought he was good too, so he enrolled at IU as a violin major. But at New Student Orientation, Jordan heard about a guy named Will Shortz, an IU alumnus and the poster boy for IMP. During his time at IU, Shortz created his own major, enigmatology, the study of puzzles. He went on to become the puzzle editor for The New York Times.

People told Jordan, “Well he majored in puzzles, so you can major in magic.”
By sophomore year, when Jordan didn’t know what he was going to do with a music major, he thought about what else he could do.

He thought about Shortz. He thought about magic.

So Jordan followed all the steps to create the major. He found two advisers and put most of his studying into psychology and performance techniques. He also found other ways to enhance his major. He looked for other resources on campus, such as the Lilly Library, which happens to have books about magic history. He contacted Joel Silver, the curator of books, and the two worked together for two semesters on the history of magic. They read from “Houdini!!!” by Kenneth Silverman, and “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero,” by William Kalush, and Jordan ended the study with a magic show, using what he had learned from magicians of the past.

Silver says he has worked with students individually before, but prior to Jordan, they were students doing independent studies in the School of Library and Information Science, where Silver teaches.

“This is the first one who’s doing an independent major who had the initiative to set something up like this,” Silver says, “and the Lilly had the appropriate collections to support it.”

***

Today Jordan will use all that he’s learned since he went through his brother’s magic tricks. At 8 p.m.  it will be Jordan’s biggest show yet.

“The point of the final project for me is to go above and beyond what I’ve done before,” he said, “and sort of reach a level I’ve never been.”

Magicians at that high of a level, Jordan knows, have options. There are private parties such as weddings and bar mitzvahs, restaurants and bars, corporate events, trade shows and even cruise ships. Jordan has a long list.

“It’s so fun and it’s so natural to me, and I make a lot of money doing it,” he said. “And it’s not even work. It’s like people pay me lots of money to go to parties and do magic for fun.”

***

One week after the birthday party, Jordan wanders up Kirkwood Avenue. It’s the Saturday night before his performance, and he’s hoping to do some final promoting. He plans to spontaneously perform for groups on the street, in hopes they will attend today’s show. 

Because he doesn’t like to go up to groups solo, he enlists the help of friend Emmanuel Borowsky, a senior violin major, and the two walk towards the city square. They walk all the way to Kilroy’s Sports Bar before turning around. They have yet to find the perfect group. 

They pass a trio of two men and a woman. They are not speaking clearly to each other and the woman is slouching and stumbling.

“Too drunk,” Jordan said to himself.

He tries another group as he walks back towards the Sample Gates. 

“Do you believe in magic?” he asks one of the women.

“No, I want to, but I don’t,” she replies without stopping to talk.

But Jordan keeps going. He’s not going to stop until he gets the reaction he wants.

Then Emmanuel and Jordan run into the perfect group outside the Village Deli.
 
“Have you ever heard of Criss Angel or David Blaine?” Jordan asks the group as he approaches.

The group of mainly guys looks back at him.

“Yeah,” replies one.

“Do you have some tricks?” another asks.  

He does. He opens with an effect involving washers and a disappearing hole. It’s impressive. He gets a huge response. 

“Whooooaa!” a guy said.

“Can we get an instant replay?” another asks.

Another throws a dollar at Jordan.

He continues with other tricks, and the group of people grows. The responses do too, and with the last one, a few guys are yelling Jordan’s magic name.

“Jordini!” one yells. “I’ll never forget Jordini!”

Jordan hands out flyers before he moves on. As he leaves his new fans, he’s happy with the response. 

“That’s what I was looking for,” he said to Emmanuel.

He continues the night on Kirkwood, sharing his tricks with people at The Upstairs Pub and Kilroy’s Bar and Grill.

The next day, he sits at Starbucks in the Indiana Memorial Union with his family, who flew in from California for the show. He’s happy with last night’s advertising, and he’s looking forward to his show. While his mom said she’s nervous for him, Jordan is not. He’s hoping for a sold-out, flawless show. 

But he’s not nervous. There’s no reason to be nervous now, he said. He knows he can do it.

For Jordini, anything is possible.

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