Nourddine Bellaoui, a.k.a Magicnoor, is an internationally acclaimed professional magician and illusionist whose mind-boggling performances have entertained millions around the globe.
A member of the prestigious British Magic Circle, Magicnoor’s impressive career in magic has spanned for over two decades and earned him the Merlin Award in recognition of his talent and contributions in the field.
Magicnoor has appeared on numerous television shows worldwide. He has performed for major corporations and celebrities. In addition, he is the founder of the Moroccan Magic Circle.
Read on to learn more about Magicnoor’s career which can only be described as…magical!
Noureddine, most of the magicians are smitten by the idea of magic since early childhood. Tell us about your first experience with magic and how it inspired you to further it academically and professionally.
I too became fascinated with magic at the age of 6, when my father took me to Marrakech’s iconic Jemaa-Fna square. As you know, there are all kind of street performers out there, snake charmers, musicians, storytellers… Among them was a magician named El Behja. He performed a magic show, and that was the first time I saw magic live. I was amazed by what he did and I was hooked ever since. It was my first “coup de foudre” (strike of lightning). What a wonderful experience!
I particularly remember El Behja performing some classics of magic as “The Chinese Linking Rings” and “The Egg Bag”. Those two magic effects are my favourites and they remain in my professional repertoire for which I have a particular affection.
On those days (70s), unfortunately, magic information was very rare. However, at the age of 12 I picked up a secondhand book in Arabic about the rudiments of the Art of Prestidigitation and I spent hours and hours poring my new book. I absorbed all the magical content. I was so excited to fool my friends and family with my new simple tricks afterwards.
After high school, I graduated in Fine Arts in Casablanca and then I moved to Milan to specialise in Set Design. After my Master, I was hired by an international company as a Set Designer. As part of my new job, I travelled around the world. It was a great opportunity for me to visit many countries, magic clubs, attend festivals and meet many magicians. I also attended magic conventions where I learned more about this art and bought some magic props. I acquired my background knowledge through magic books, VHS, DVDs… I was determined, I performed as many shows as I could. I was an enthusiastic amateur and finally I became a full time professional magician.
What kind of audience do you think is the easiest and most difficult to impress?
Over the years I have performed magic shows for different audiences and different age groups. I have come to think that the most difficult audience to mystify are children. There is a huge difference between performing for children and performing for adults. The children are direct and their senses must be stimulated to channel their energy. Their knowledge is limited. So they don’t distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality, more importantly, they love to have fun. The adults, on the other hand, know that magic doesn’t exist, so they suspend their disbelief in order to enjoy the magic performance.
You will be surprised to know that the intelligent people are the easiest to fool and misdirect, no matter how smart or well observant they are. The reason is very simple, they don’t see only with their eyes, but also with their brain and mind. They can only concentrate on one thing at time. However, here misdirection plays a particular role of distraction.
During my trips, I became very aware about magic perception, every country has its own culture and beliefs, as magic through history has been seen as witchcraft.
As mentioned in the movie ‘Now You See Me,’ magic is all about deception. How do you practice this art for your new tricks?
I love Hollywood movies especially those where magic is the subject. However, in the movie “Now you see me” they use the power of misdirection and deception to get revenge. The spectators might feel little confused about the difference between being tricked and being cheated.
Magic is the Art of honest deception, it’s like storytelling. I am an entertainer by definition, so my main goal is to share a great experience, make my audience enlightened, amazed and entertained. Obviously, us, magicians, use hidden techniques to achieve our goals; however, the technical part must be invisible to the spectators. So, 10% technique and 80% presentation.
I practice my magic until it is a second nature, so I can have a contact with my audience, connect with them and get them involved. As Michelangelo Buonarroti once rightly said, “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all”.
You have been performing magic for around 20 years. So far, which aspect has been the most rewarding for performing in front of an audience?
My biggest joy is when I perform magic and at the end of the show people come to meet me, they tell me that they enjoyed the show and that I have succeeded to bring out the inner child in them. It’s always a great pleasure and satisfaction to receive this feedback. That’s the real magic.
How does it feel to be recognised by the stalwarts in the magic world Siegfried and Roy?
I feel blessed and honoured to have met the Legendary magicians Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, because they have been the biggest influence in my life and I was delighted to chat with them.
There is something intensely personal and motivating to be recognised by the magic community.
Having travelled the world and being able to perform in four languages, to what extent do you think that magic and illusion has changed your life?
Magic is my passion, for me it’s a human experience, it is part of my life.
I have the chance to travel all over the world, to visit many places, to learn about different cultures and to meet great people worldwide. Numerous personalities from the show business have enjoyed my shows. I also had the honour of presenting my magic show to members of the royal family of Morocco. Magic is simply the biggest adventure of my life.
Have you ever given or had a chance to perform an impromptu magic trick to an audience?
I am a professional magician 24/7, so I am always prepared for any situation. You never know who you might meet! From magical point of view, I always bring some props with me. I can perform great tricks that don’t require special props. I can use the everyday objects, glass through table, spoon bending, vanishing salt, rubber bands, coins vanish, pickpocketing…
As we all know, you are not only a magician but also a painter, photographer, and a playwright. Had illusion not become your profession, which one of the others were you more inclined to as a means of earning a living?
I used to describe myself as a great enthusiast of the Arts in general. First I was passionate about drawing from my early age. I think, if I wasn’t a full time magician, I will be an art teacher.
What has been the best advice you have been given? Who gave you the advice?
I met the Canadian Carl Cloutier, the 1994 F.I.S.M World Champion of Magic in the French Caribbean Islands of Guadeloupe. His advice to me was, magic is more than tricks, illusion or props. It is about experiencing emotions. Make it simple and easy to understand and to follow, he told me. If the audience likes you, he said, they will like what you do.
Thanks to him I learned that magic is a human connection not just tricking people or confusing them. Magic is the art of entertainment.
Not everyone can handle the power that comes with being a magician and an illusionist. What are the negatives of being in control as you perform your tricks?
Magic is an Art, to get to a high level requires years and years of sacrifice and practice. For me a great magician must be prepared and perfectly organised before the performance. However, there is a flip side of magic coin, things cannot go 100% as planned. We are human, or as Jean Eugene Robert Houdin put it, “a magician is an actor playing the part of magician”.
Many tricks can be easily imitated by others in the profession. How do you maintain interest and innovation in your profession?
We have our code of ethics in magic, so it’s wrong to copy others or steal their ideas and works. Magic is a creative Art. I get my inspiration from movies, books, TV shows… I study other forms of entertainment to come up with new ideas. I created and developed many characters, among them El Pasha, for which I was inspired from the Egyptian films of the 1940/50. I participated in Marrakech de Rire in 2012 with my El Pasha character and I had a great success. Ideas all are around us!