Mark Nizer's latest show adds a dimension
By: DAVID MAURER | Daily Progress
Creating the four-dimensional effects for Mark Nizer's new show involves establishing a color shift that separates video of Nizer's tricky juggling routine. Special glasses will be provided.
"Mark Nizer 4D"
Any number of things shouldn't be done into the wind.
Mark Nizer recently discovered a new one. For hours on end, day after day, the showman extraordinaire threw foam balls into the vortex of a roaring leaf blower.
The objective was to create something of a toss-and-catch twosome with the insufferable machine. Alas, mass, speed, slipstream velocity and any number of other variables conspired to keep the routine out of Nizer's lineup.
"It looks great, it's funny, but it just doesn't work," Nizer said of his now defunct leaf blower stunt. "I could practice for 40 years and never be able to catch four balls in a row.
"Sometimes a routine is just too hard, or there's not enough of a payoff by the time you're finished. But I'm always trying to create something new.
"And when I create something new, I give it a name, and it becomes like a child to me."
People will have an opportunity to see some of the latest offspring of Nizer's imagination at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Paramount Theater. The performance, "Mark Nizer 4D," is a benefit for Crozet Arts, with the proceeds going to help grow the nonprofit and fund some of its upcoming projects.
Crozet Arts currently offers classes in dance, music, theater, visual arts and other art forms. Sharon D. Tolczyk is the artistic director.
"Sharon is super passionate about the school and puts in insane hours," said Nizer, who takes a yoga class at the school. "Her motivation is her passion, and that's why I want to help them out.
"The yoga has changed my life. I got my spring back in what I'm doing because of it."
What Nizer does is entertain people around the globe with feats that would seem impossible except for the fact he can do them. Yes, he won the International Juggling Championship, but he's far more than a great juggler.
His near-nonstop banter with the audience is often hilarious and probably would be enough for him to earn a living as an A-list comic. But he does a lot more than make an audience laugh.
Nizer is the rarest type of entertainer who can astound, tickle and bedazzle onlookers at the same time. Because he makes his home in Albemarle County, locals often get to see his new stuff first, which will be the case Thursday evening.
"One of the things I really love about the Paramount gig is that I know a lot of people in the audience, and many of them are friends of mine," Nizer said recently. "That puts pressure on me to create.
"It's terrifying, but it sets a little fire in my pants that makes me literally have to think up new things. This year, I started playing with the sound metal tubing makes.
"When you cut the pipe to different lengths, they make different tones. You can't necessarily play music, but you can play patterns."
Because Nizer is Nizer, he has worked out a routine in which he juggles three different tubes, each of which creates a unique sound when it's caught. And to usher the trick into the professional-grade sphere, he hits the tubes with sticks while they're in the air.
As different notes are struck, they in turn trigger lights, which adds flash to the action and sounds. Another innovation will have Nizer's heart rate being monitored and broadcast in real time to the audience while he goes through an energy-sapping routine.
He also has invented and trademarked a BeltCam, which allows the audience to see on a screen what he is seeing as he does a difficult juggling routine. And as the title of the show suggests, there's this four-dimensional thing — which calls for the wearing of special glasses, which will be provided, during portions of the show.
"It [4D] does two things," Nizer explained. "It takes video I'm filming and is being shown behind me on a screen, and it does this crazy separation to it.
"It brings stuff way forward like normal 3D, but it's 4D in the sense that there's a color shift. For example, if I'm juggling a red ball and you look at it with these special glasses, it will move forward about 15 feet closer to you than it really is.
"The background will move backward about 15 feet, and the green and yellow colors float in the middle. So not only does the video have an extra dimensionality to it, so do I."
These groundbreaking techniques are so new that Nizer is the only person on the planet presently able to do them. And he does it all with the help of Siri, the personal assistant on Apple's iphone.
It turns out Siri is a lot more than an attractive voice.
"The Paramount gig is going to be a true one-man show," Nizer said. "I'm running all the lights, all the video, all the sound.
"There is no longer someone in the wings throwing me objects. It's now all these little tubes I built that are triggered by my computer.
"There's no longer a guy dropping me a ball from the ceiling. The ball is now dropping out of a wireless Bluetooth arduino unit that's timed out perfectly.
"Siri and I have partnered together for this show. She introduces everything, and we interact throughout the show to do all kinds of different things.
"I'm totally in love with her. I had a long talk about her with my wife, and she seems to be OK with it — I guess."
Mark Nizer 4D will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Paramount Theater. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for youths. Tickets can be purchased at the Paramount box office or online at www.theparamount.net.
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