Magician Chris Xia ’23 Derives Motivation from Audience Interactions

Bending his left index finger and thumb into a loop, Chris Xia ’23 reaches his finger through and extracts a coin. Moments later, the coin vanishes with a crisp snap.

Noting the importance of audience interaction during magic performances, Xia finds Andover a comfortable environment for showcasing magic. As a member of the Andover Magic Society, he often performs in front of audiences to enhance his presentation skills.

“Andover [is]…a safer and more open environment, so I wouldn’t be scared or self-conscious when I do perform my tricks. [I am] more willing to go up to random strangers or people I don’t know as well and ask them if they want to see a magic trick,” said Xia. 

Starting only a year before coming to Andover in 2019, Xia first became interested in magic after watching videos online and teaching tricks to himself. Since coming to campus, Xia has dedicated more time to honing his skills.

“I’ve never really had a chance to really start magic because I didn’t have that much time at my old school… At Andover, there’s a lot more flexibility. There are more clubs and extracurriculars, and it helped me get better at the presentation aspects of my tricks.”

Xia uses methods such as asking questions and diverting people’s attention to engage with his audience. According to Xia, watching the audience’s reactions is one of his favorite parts of being a magician.

“I think a huge part of magic is the reactions you get from the audience. That’s a lot more important than the trick itself sometimes, because I do magic for fun. A lot of times people are surprised or confused, and I think those reactions are the best for me because it means that the trick did what it was supposed to do,” said Xia.  

Xia performs in both large, formal settings and smaller, informal ones in front of a group of friends. One of Xia’s friends, Ethan Wong ’23, expressed how Xia’s personality shines through the card tricks he plays daily.  

“I think it reflects his fun side of his personality, as his tricks bring us a lot of happiness, same as how he brings us a lot of happiness in life. He likes to tell jokes in his normal life, and his tricks are also ways that make us happy,” said Wong. 

Given the current social distancing measures in place, Xia has stopped performing in front of large audiences in favor of filming and posting tricks on social media. Since he can no longer have face-to-face interactions with a live audience, Xia challenges himself to attain a higher level of technique and detail in presentation.  

“Just like playing any sport or instrument, you don’t always get it right the first time. A lot of times, especially when I’m filming, it takes a while for me to get [the trick] to where I feel I’m satisfied with it. That can be frustrating sometimes, but when I do get it, it feels really nice,” said Xia.