Performer Spotlight: Ryne Strom

3120 Hi Ryne! Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into magic and how long you’ve been performing?

My uncle is also a professional illusionist. He would often babysit me for my parents and I'd sit on a trunk backstage watching from the wings. I was hooked and loved magic as long as I can remember. He definitely influenced me as I grew in magic and I was fortunate enough to have many other great influences from the magic world who took me under their wing. My first professional show was 24 years ago when I was 8. I was doing birthday parties and Blue and Gold Banquets. I saved all the money I earned from those performances and continued to reinvest it into making my show bigger until I had a full blown stage illusion show.

Who are your role models or inspirations?

One of my greatest performance inspirations is Charlie Chaplin. It always fascinated me how well he was able to get a story across and make people double over laughing without saying a single word. There's a lot of influence from him in my routines that are set to music. I like there to be a purpose for most of my illusions- I want people to know why the girl is levitating or why she's getting sawed in half, and I have to convey that story without words.

What first got you into performing illusions?

My uncle always performed large stage illusions. As a child it was all larger than life and I was fascinated by all the impossible acts he did. It all seemed so (for lack of better words) magical. But the show that really made me decide that I wanted to do illusions was Harry Blackstone Jr. He had one of the largest traveling shows ever and his performance style is and always has been incomparable. I will never forgetting getting called on stage where he made a birdcage vanish literally at the tips of my fingers.

What was the first illusion you learned?

The first illusion I learned was was sawing a woman in half... or at least a dumbed down version of it. My uncle would play 'magic show' with my brother and I when he'd watch us and made a sawing in half with chairs and cardboard for us to show my parents when they got home haha.

You’re also a puppeteer! How did you get into puppeteering, and how is it different and/or similar to being an Illusionist?

My grandparents had bought us a set of Muppet Puppets that looked very similar to the actual thing when we were kids. My mom is an artist, so she built and painted us an amazing Muppets puppet stage and my brother and I would put on shows. I was known to gather neighbors in our driveway to put on Muppet/magic shows. Puppeteering is very similar to magic in that you feel like you're 'in on the secret'. You're making something impossible happen- making an inanimate object come to life. It's no longer a pile of fabric- it's a living, breathing creature. When you get really good at it, people forget that there's a person underneath or inside making it come to life.

What do you like best about performing for kids and their families?

Seeing peoples faces light up never gets old. I have to admit, one of my favorite things is picking out the people who look like they're going to be the hardest to impress- the skeptics. I can't tell you how many times I've seen what looks like a grumpy man at the beginning of the show look like a giddy child by the end.

What advice would you give to someone looking into pursuing a career in performing?

Never stop learning. And never give up. There are SO many obstacles in this industry, but if you're persistent and are actually willing to work to be successful, you will be. Acting and dance are two things that will help in any kind of performing. While it's important to focus on your specialty, It's extremely helpful to stay well rounded in all aspects of performance- It will help your movement, your motivation, your creativity. Also never undervalue your talent. It takes YEARS of hard work, practice and persistence to make things look effortless.

In our Storyteller Studio “everyone has a story to tell”… we get a chance to share our stories, and one of the ways we do that is by sharing our favorite books. What was your favorite book growing up?

My favorite book growing up was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Or any Roald Dahl books for that matter. They always transported me to a different world.

If you'd like a chance to see Ryne, he will be performing Sunday, December 10, at 1:00pm at Kidspace!

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Anne Pierce, Art Specialist, has been with Kidspace Children’s Museum since 2010. She participated in the Master Planning committee and assisted in the development of the Imagination Workshop. As a theater professional Anne has worked for the Walt Disney Resorts, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Sid & Marty Krofft. Anne is currently serving on the board of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry.