Teacher Spotlight: Liam Malanaphy, Magic Performance

Liam Malanphy 2

This post marks the first in a series focusing on our teachers, their experience, how they approach teaching, etc. First up is Liam Malanaphy, who teaches Magic Performance on Thursdays at PSACC.

According to our catalog, Malanaphy’s class emphasizes “cultivating a performance that is grounded in the wonder one feels when first seeing an amazing trick performed. Children will learn to understand the enormous difference between knowing how a trick is done, and knowing how to do a trick. More than any specific tricks or talents, this class will seek to teach performance. Magic theory, balloon sculpting, and juggling will also be covered.”

I’ve intermittently sat in on his classes; and I’ve been impressed by his proficiency and his ability to convey concepts not only clearly and comprehensively but with infectious humor and enthusiasm, expertly enfolding extrapolations on the art of storytelling within his approach.

Check out Liam Malanaphy’s website, HERE.

Madera: Did you attend an afterschool program as a child? If so, what was it like?
Malanaphy: No, they didn’t have that sort of thing at my school in the 70’s.

Madera: When did you start practicing magic? At what point did you decide to become a magician?
Malanaphy: My best friend’s mother owned an antique store on Coney Island Avenue. We’d confiscate any magic tricks which came through the store. When I was in Junior High at Mark Twain we had a talent show and I wanted to be up there performing my tricks. From there I started to perform on the street in Times Square. I’d work the discount ticket line. It was a challenge to get up in front of strangers who hadn’t asked for entertainment, but for the most part, they loved it, and it got a lot easier.

Madera: What’s the easiest thing about magic performance? What’s the hardest?
Malanaphy: The hardest part is getting started. Those first few words are the biggest challenge. I wouldn’t say that any of it is easy, but the most fun part is connecting with audience and enjoying the show along with them.

Madera: How did you hear about PSACC? When did you start working for us?
Malanaphy: I’ve performed at the Fall Festival for many years and it’s really one of the most fun shows I do all year.

Madera: What are some highlights about teaching Magic Performance at PSACC?
Malanaphy: I’m amazed at how open and involved the children are. Some are distracted after a long day, but more than anything they are engaged and enthusiastic week after week.

Madera: How do you approach teaching?
Malanaphy: I see it as sharing and guiding. They love to learn the secret to a trick, but guiding them to follow up and channel that enthusiasm into cultivating the performance is the real secret to magic.

Madera: Tell us more about who you are and what you do. Do you have another career outside of Magic and teaching?
Malanaphy: I’m a married father of two teenage boys, got an advanced degree in psychology and I’ve been a practicing attorney for over 15 years. I’m also an avid runner, last Sunday’s NYC marathon was my 30th marathon. But I’ve been doing magic much longer than anything else.

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