Belgian illusionist finds magic in Vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge – Bruno Marchal has lived in Ha Noi for more than 10 years and has made a name for himself as a talented magician, DJ and IT consultant.

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Abracadabra: Bruno Marchal is known as a talented illusionist as well as an IT consultant for the European Union and a DJ. — Photos courtesy of Bruno Marchal

A dozen people surrounded Belgian illusionist, Bruno Marchal, as he was performing his magic cards tricks at a spectacle in Ha Noi last week.

Everyone tried to follow his gestures closely, but nobody could explain why cards transformed under their noses, or how he could correctly guess a card which had been secretly chosen by one spectator, and not revealed to anyone else.  

Like others who watched the performances, I was stunned by his talent.   

Anne Lange, delegate of Wallonie-Bruxelles International, said last week that she was herself amazed by his skills.

“He is a true magician,” she said.

‘Close up’ magic tricks 

Marchal, in his 50s, has lived in Ha Noi for more than ten years, but his interest in magic began 30 years ago. He said that one day he found himself mystified by David Blaine (one of the most famous artists in this field) and his close up magic tricks. Working on his skills and abilities, honing his talents at events such as the Louis Vuitton opening ceremony or Hermes Ceremony at the Hanoi Opera House, he has managed to find his way in magic and each performance can now be deemed a ‘must see’. Here in Ha Noi, his magic is mainly designed for cocktail or dinner parties. He performs amongst people with a deck or cards, close to his audience, not on a stage. No mirrors, no smoke, no hidden places, only his hands and a deck of cards. He has performed in English, French and Vietnamese at important hotels in the capital.

He specialises in playing cards because he finds them to be “universal”.

“Everyone around the world has played cards. Vietnamese audiences also love them. This is a wonderful medium, easy and accessible. Any card game can be manipulated and used to amaze anyone, children and adults. No need for fake artifacts or objects that in my opinion spoil the real impact of magic. Another huge advantage with Close-Up magic is that everything happens in front of your eyes, viewers are themselves actors, they can touch the cards and look at everything”, he said. 

“It’s an amazing spectacle because it uses no artifice. The magician plays with the people’s perception as well as their minds. It is true illusion in front of the audience. What people see is actually not what happens but nobody realises,” he said.

He has never taken any lessons. Only some illusionists showed him some techniques because they felt he had some skills. He also attended magicians’ congresses in which he and experts share and discuss old and new techniques. "It is all about work and training, and a lot of practice because everything has to look smooth and natural," he said.

His 12-year-old daughter has also started to learn some techniques and a few routines that she presents to her friends. Marchal said that he would be willing to teach others his techniques.

"Like other magicians have done with me, I am quite ready to teach my techniques and provide training to those interested. I have already done it with some people and if in the future there is a significant demand, I could start a magic club in Ha Noi. Nevertheless future magicians should be aware that it requires patience and fastidious training that could last several months before starting to perform in front of an audience.

But there is a huge reward of being able to bring dreams to life in the eyes of people by showing them impossible things,” he said.

Busy life in Ha Noi

Bruno Marchal is not only an illusionist. He is also an acclaimed DJ and works as an IT consultant for the European Union.  

He first came to Viet Nam in December 2002 as an International IT Expert for MUTRAP (Multilateral Trade Assistance Project) which helps develop trade between Viet Nam and the European Union. Subsequently he worked for several years with the ETV2 project (European Technical Assistance to Viet Nam) at the country’s Ministry of Planning and Investment. 

The love that he has for the country has made him want to stay here for a long time.

”During my first year I met the mother of my child and I decided to settle down in this country that I found particularly pleasant. The Vietnamese people are courteous and kind. The lifestyle here is far from the constant stress you may encounter in Europe. Moreover Ha Noi is a beautiful and pleasant city,” he said.

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Master magician: Bruno Marchal has taught several other people his card trick techniques.

A busy man, he combines several activities, but he says that his artistic activities were an ideal balance in regards to the strict and rigorous job of being an IT Consultant on EU projects in the region (Vietnam, Indonesia, etc).

He said that he likes all three parts of his professional life. Each of them corresponding to a distinct aspect of his personality.

“Being an IT Consultant is more suited to my rational and logical side. I like to understand why things happen. I have always been passionate about logic and reasoning. I like to build and organise information systems in order to provide useful tools to facilitate people’s daily jobs,” he explains.

"The Magic is my dreamy side; artistic and eager to amaze people,” he said. ”Finally, I’m a DJ because I had the opportunity to be surrounded by the funky and groovy music of the late 70s and 80s. I never stopped following the evolution of this music. Since that time I was keen to share it. Many actual deep house tracks inherit their beat from these sounds. It gives any party an elegant, classy and amazing atmosphere”.

But family remains his top priority.

He is very involved in the school life of his daughter as Vice-Chairman of the Parents Association of the French Lycée in Ha Noi.

“This is my way to balance work and family life, to which I attach particular importance. Outside my artistic performances, I’d rather stay home to spend time with my family,” he confides.

”My daughter is also Vietnamese, so I wish that she can stay in contact with the Vietnamese culture and I do not intend to leave Viet Nam in the near future. Every year my knowledge of the Vietnamese language is improving even if the pronunciation is still a challenge,” he said.

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Vuong Bach Lien
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