Nevada County Magician gives back through mentoring
Know & Go
An Evening of Magic with Nick Fedoroff
The Don Baggett Theater: Nevada Union High School, Grass Valley
6 p.m., Feb. 19
Tickets are available online at http://nickfedoroff.brownpapertickets.com or at the door.
For more information, see Nick Fedoroff Magician on Facebook
Nick Fedoroff was enthralled with the magician who showed up for his fifth birthday party — and thrilled when one of the wrapped presents turned out to be a magic kit. In the weeks that followed, he became completely absorbed in learning tricks and soon was spending every penny he had on magic kits at Mountain Pastimes in Nevada City.
By the time he was 8, he was stumping adults with his sophisticated manipulation of cards and coins. His parents were so impressed that they got him a job performing at a county government picnic.
“I did the basic rope tricks — also the cups and balls trick — but the grand finale was the dove trick, only I didn’t have money to buy a dove, so I used candy,” said Fedoroff. “The adults were amazed and that really gave me confidence. And I made $80. I was hooked.”
Fedoroff began meeting every third Monday with members of the local Magic Guild, where veteran magician Bruce Gauthier agreed to be his mentor.
“My very first time on stage was the formative moment of my life,” Fedoroff said. “It made such an impact — I fell in love with the idea of giving the audience something they could take home.”
Today, at age 25, Fedoroff supports himself solely through his work as a magician. His jobs take him throughout the western United States and abroad, working for such companies as American Airlines, McCain Foods, Genentech and Google, as well as numerous associations, trade shows, and special events. He is known for his elegant, humorous “old school” magic, combined with a contemporary twist. Since his first local stage performance in 2012, he has sold out every show in Nevada County.
Yet without the guidance and mentorship of Gauthier and other Nevada County magicians, Fedoroff says he probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to pursue magic — his true passion — as a profession.
Two years ago, Fedoroff’s chance to “pay it forward” came in the form of an 11-year-old boy, Utah Myers, who approached him at a Christmas party.
“You want to see a trick?” asked the boy, not knowing Fedoroff was a magician.
“He was really good,” said Fedoroff. “I was surprised — he was very skillful.”
Myers, who is now a 13-year-old eighth grader at Yuba River Charter School, has now been mentored by Fedoroff for more than a year. On Feb. 19 at the Don Baggett Theater at Nevada Union High School, Myers will perform for the first time on stage, as Fedoroff’s opening act.
Like any good mentor, Fedoroff knew that a gentle nudge to grow and try something new was key. Comfortable with what he calls “street magic,” Myers said he was very reluctant to get up on a stage in front of a large audience.
“So I said good — we’re going to get you up on stage,” said Fedoroff, with a laugh. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Myers said he has learned the value of presentation — that simply performing a trick isn’t enough. There has to be a rapport with the audience.
“I used to think if you just did the trick, people would love it, but you have to talk about what you’re doing,” he said. “Otherwise there would be this awkward silence. Nick has shared a lot of his secrets, but of course I don’t share them — that’s the magician’s code. I used to do more tricks at school, but too many kids would follow me around all day asking me how I did it.”
“Utah is probably one of three people in the world I would share my secrets with,” said Fedoroff. “But he had to be ready for them — ready to use them. I don’t reveal them all. But magic would die if magicians didn’t reveal secrets to their apprentices, but it’s all in the teaching. Utah takes what I teach him and makes it his own.”
Modern society has not given mentoring its due, said Fedoroff, who is grateful for the inspiration he received from his mentors and has found that guiding Myers is “as rewarding as anything else I’ve ever done.”
In a study published in 2013, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada released one of the largest mentoring studies ever conducted. The five-year study, which tracked the experiences of nearly 1,000 children and teenagers, found that those with a mentor are significantly more confident in their academic abilities and considerably less likely to display behavioral problems. Girls in the study were four times less likely to become bullies than those without a mentor and boys were two times less likely. In general, young people showed increased belief in their abilities to succeed in school and felt less anxiety related to peer pressure.
Fedoroff couldn’t agree more.
“Whatever your dreams are — whether you’re a child or an adult, society has a way of chipping away at those dreams,” he said. “You have to make the choice of whether you’re going to pursue that dream, and mentoring can help. I hate that mentorship is missing in society today. Knowledge from personal experience is not shared in a consistent way anymore. So much of magic is an oral tradition, passed on from person to person. You have to pass on that knowledge — still water goes stagnant, but a river always runs clear.”
So when the curtain goes up at Don Baggett Theater Friday and Utah Myers steps out on stage alone for the very first time, Fedoroff will be there, happily waiting in the wings.
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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