Even though magician Billy Kidd was bad at science in school, she says she appreciates it now in her work
If like Arthur C. Clarke, you were to believe that “Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet’, you might want to catch Discovery Channel’s latest offering. Magic of Science 2 which premieres tonight, offers viewers the chance to learn the chemistry, physics and biology powering the world’s greatest illusions. It combines the showmanship and mystery of street magic with the cool facts of science. Among the popular magicians who will be a part of the series is U.K.-based, Billy Kidd.
In a telephonic interview, the award winning magician reveals: “The episodes this season are stronger and come with much better effects.” While magic happened only much later, when she was younger, Billy underwent extensive training in ballet, tap dancing and hip hop. Her extensive repertoire of classical education also extends to music- piano, saxophone, and violin. When she turned 18, she was accepted into one of Canada’s top theatre schools, and later served as the conductor and choreographer of an ensemble dedicated to the nose-flute.
“I was quite the late bloomer as far as magic goes. When a really close friend of mine showed me a magic trick, it blew my mind. I was so keen on pursuing it, he told me what books to read and where to study. Practicing and performing went hand-in-hand.”
Ask her what is the correlation between magic and science and Billy says: “First of all, we are magicians and not scientists. Putting together a show of this nature has not been a cakewalk. For example, while performing magic, we know what our trick is, how it unfolds and what to do if something goes wrong. We’re pretty much in control of the different variables. While you would think science is a lot like that too, in some way it isn’t. You can predict and control only so much.”
“I was really bad at science. I cheated my way through it in school. But I appreciate it now. It’s fun to take something you’re not familiar with and use it to do something that’s second nature to you.”
Having worked with other magicians on this seven episode series, Billy says of her experience, “It’s been a fantastic journey. We get to experiment with the techniques we use and we’ve been able to do things that we can’t otherwise do on our own. There’s been a lot of mutual learning and growing.”
Billy’s versatile style charms audiences and makes her a standout among her contemporaries. Her unique fusion of comedy, close-up magic, and street performances have taken Billy around the world, where she has conducted her walk-around performances in Canada, USA, Japan, Dubai, Portugal, Austria, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. She chooses to describe her style of performing as “casual, interactive, and freaky. I’m someone who is serious about magic but not sombre while performing.”
As one of the few female magicians in this international industry, it has been quite a challenge. “There are obstacles female magicians must overcome. I’ve now gotten used to being around men 99 percent of the time. Given that not many women grow up wanting to be magicians, we don’t really have a female role model or a reference point. In fact, back in the early 1900s, magic books came with separate instructions for male and female magicians but I’m yet to read a book like that! Also, clothing is one of our biggest problems. Women’s clothes have the worst pockets ever! I end up customising a lot of my own clothing. More than anything, female magicians have got to be extremely creative to be able to hold the attention of their audience. The good thing is that with time, we learn to overcome these hurdles.”
Speaking of her love for street magic, Billy Kidd says: “It’s a good ground to practice and perform. People don’t particularly come to watch you as they would if it was a stage show but that’s what teaches us how to grab the attention of a crowd that hasn’t paid to watch a show.”
Looking ahead, it will be live stage shows and possibly different types of TV magic shows that will take up Billy’s time.
Magic of Science 2 premieres tonight and will air Monday to Friday at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.