Learning from the Great André Kole

Every aspiring artist’s career is strengthened by the greats who paved the way. For many years, André Kole—world famous illusionist—has been Craig Davis’ valued friend and guide in the world of illusion. André, arguably the foremost inventor of magical effects of his generation, is a recipient of both the Inventor of the Decade and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the International Magicians Society (IBM). He has graced the stage in 80 countries—more than any other magician.

They met by happy chance when Craig was 23. Craig, a budding street performer, received an invitation from Brad Zinn, entertainer and host of a television show, to be interviewed for upcoming episodes. The other guest on the show that morning was André Kole.

“I found out he was an illusionist, and he found out I was a magician and a juggler, and so we exchanged cards,” Craig said. They had discovered a shared passion, that of creating and performing their own unique illusions.

Later, Craig had the opportunity to sit down with André for lunch, and a few months after that André called and asked him to come to his office, where his office manager, Bob Dorsch, offered him a job.

“We’d really like you to come work for The André Kole Show and go on tour with us,” Bob said. “We’re getting ready to tour Russia.”

It was a tempting offer for a young magician, and Craig knew he had to make a choice. He could work for André Kole, learn from him, and tour all over the world. On the other hand, he wanted to complete his bachelor’s degree from ASU and pursue his own career in magic.

“The truth is,” Craig said, “I didn’t really want to be a backstage hand, which is what I would be. That wasn’t my goal. I wanted to be the headliner.”

And so, even though it was hard to do, Craig politely turned him down. But that was only the beginning—not the end—of their friendship and collaboration.

Craig had become more and more interested in illusion design, something André was known for around the world.

“I would pour over all of the books and literature I could find about magic and mechanics, and I started studying woodworking, welding, machining, and all sorts of stuff,” Craig said.

Craig found he had a talent for illusion design, and in his 20’s he built several original concepts. One of them—a disappearing act—he showed to André Kole.

“You’ve come up with a new way to hide a girl,” André said, amazed. “That’s never been done before.”

Later, Craig did some work for André, but this time his role was that of collaborator, not stagehand. As an illusion builder, he brought several of André’s original concepts to life. One of them, called “Just Passing Through,” was an illusion that showed André standing through the center of a girl laying on a table. Another one, called “The Drum Production,” made a drummer and drum set appear on stage, an act made even more amazing because the sound of the drums came before the audience saw the source of the sound.

Craig also worked on a TV special André did for the Discovery Channel and BBC, which involved an illusion called “Walking on Water.” Discovery Channel footage shows André walking across the surface of Sahuaro Lake while people swam around him. They pass a hoop over, under, and around André’s body. One of the people in the water was Craig.

“I was very proud of being a part of that,” he said. “But I got severely sunburned that day.”

Craig’s current project, The Davis Circus of Illusion, being presented at the Cattle Track Theater in Scottsdale, Arizona, is in part made possible by André Kole’s support.

“He’s been very kind to me,” Craig said about André. “He’s even given me permission to perform some of his original illusions.”

Few other illusionists can claim such a privilege.

“While André Kole will always be one of the world’s premier illusionists, I will always love him primarily for his example, integrity, generosity, faith, and friendship."

Davis Magic LLC © 2017