Last November 7, the new show “Awakening” premiered at the Wynn Las Vegas, dubbed as the best hotel in Las Vegas for three years in a row. It has a 360 degree LED stage with different petals that move up and down, dazzling lights and sound effects, audacious costumes and puppetry designs, and jaw dropping illusions performed right in the middle of a round theater.
In short, this show is the most technologically advanced show in the world and is expected to set the new entertainment standard on the strip.
And if you’re a leviwand practitioner, another noteworthy thing about this show is that it features our eccentric, magical, and somewhat nouveau art.
The Leviwand’s Journey to the Entertainment Arena
When I first encountered the leviwand, it was in flow and fire arts scene around 2011. I saw a video of Prisna Nuengsigkapian on the flowtoys.com website, and I was immediately smitten by her graceful and organic movement. I didn’t know how the prop worked back then, but I knew I wanted to get my hands on it.
From my personal knowledge (please correct me if I’m wrong), most of the performances done at the time with the leviwand or the dancing cane are with magicians, in fire and flow festivals/events, and some in the rave scene. Mostly in these settings, but not all of them.
I’ve seen Starlight Alchemy (Singapore) with leviwand in their performances, and I think Vivian Spiral has done it with some variety shows as well. Aileen Lawlor has performed it for the Flow Show that is more theater-centric.
After I learned advanced leviwand techniques from Iain (E.N.) Culp around 2013, my mind blew up with the prospects and the possibilities with leviwand. I took what I learned from him and incorporated my dance, acrobatic, and theatrical background to create a unique, dynamic style which later on became the circus style of leviwand.
With this style, leviwand went on to break grounds on the world circus stage (Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain 2016), the Cirque du Soleil Stage (Syma, 2018/2019), the mainstream media (America’s Got Talent 2021), and now on the Las Vegas strip entertainment lineup (Awakening, 2022). It is also now a recognized circus manipulation discipline on the International Casting Agency website, founded by Charlie Burrows, the current Acrobatic Casting Advisor for Cirque du Soleil.
Needless to say, it has been a long journey for leviwand to arrive where it’s at today in terms of the entertainment industry. It still is unreal to me sometimes that it’s featured in one of the big shows on the entertainment capital of the world.
What does it mean for you?
If you’re a leviwand practitioner and you are currently or an aspiring professional performer, this spells good news.
This means the barriers have been broken down. In the beginning, it was hard to introduce this art to the entertainment directors, producers, and casting departments. But it was harder to prove its worthiness on the stage in terms of its artistic beauty and the technical skill required to perform it, on top of the magical illusion inherent with the art.
It means there are now roles for leviwand performers out there, and if there are no roles then productions can easily recognize the art and hopefully make space for it. My journey to “Awakening” started merely as being a video reference for the show concept, just because we’ve put leviwand content out there for them to discover.
It all just rests on us as a community to have a strong “army” of leviwand performers to be able to fill the demand and those roles. We need to be able to represent well, otherwise the reputation of the art will decline if we present leviwand at a lackluster level. This is a challenge we face as professional leviwand performers.
In a nutshell, leviwand is out there for people to explore, recognize, and conceptualize with. We’ve carved a niche in the entertainment industry. I still aspire for the day that when we say we do leviwand, that they would know it and we wouldn’t have to explain what it is.
And to be honest, with leviwand as sort of a “novelty” or “unique” act, I am not sure if being more recognized and practiced by more people is an actual good thing. Maybe it isn’t, who knows?
BUT what if you are a leviwand practitioner but not a current or aspiring professional performer?
Should leviwand being on a big show on the Las Vegas strip mean anything to you? Frankly, maybe not.
Our journeys are different, and my journey just happens to be in the entertainment arena. Leviwand, and flow arts in general, mean different things to us.
Leviwand, or flow arts, can be an escape for you. It’s like doom scrolling, but much more engaging, magical, and healthy.
Some people like exploring the technical aspects and mental olympics of manipulating this prop. They like the challenge and the learning process.
Some people like to just let go and flow with it – dance and move like no one is watching, and just for joy of doing the act (which I do as well). No need for tricky moves or risky acrobatics. Just spending that golden moment with the prop brings them bliss.
Some people are destined to be teachers and influencers. It has changed their lives and the lives of their friends – and they want to share this beautiful practice to as many people as possible.
Some people just wanna feel magical. Some people just want to have something fun to play with in parties, raves, or festivals. Some just want to be part of a community. And some just want to post something cool on social media.
Then there are some people who want to perform with it, and probably make a career out of it.
AND THAT’S TOTALLY FINE, WHICHEVER JOURNEY YOU ARE IN.
You needn’t feel like you need to do tech moves, acrobatics, long string, or double leviwands to justify practicing leviwand. Wand for what it means to you!