It’s rare to see Ty Gallenbeck without a deck of cards in his hands.As he carries on a conversation, he spreads the cards out on a table, then quickly flips them over and gathers them up. He divides the deck into stacks of two or three, then re-arranges the stacks by flipping them back and forth between his hands. Some people might consider Ty fidgety or even distracted, but he remains focused on the conversation as he quietly shuffles the cards.
Fascinated by magic since he was a young boy, Ty has learned that it is a powerful means of capturing the attention of the teens he works with.
As a student studying youth ministry at Pacific Christian College in Fullerton, Calif., Ty had the opportunity to meet Danny Ray at a youth workers’ convention. Ty was so transfixed by Ray’s sleight-of-hand he visited very few of the other 150 booths which filled the Anaheim Convention Center. That night, the magician performed in front of 2,000 people. With a video camera projecting his tricks on a huge screen, Danny Ray was able to make all 2,000 people feel like they were part of the magic.
“That’s when it hit me,” Ty said. “Magic is a great way to catch kids’ interest, get them involved and get them talking.”
Ty returned to Delta, where he’d graduated from high school in 2001, and began an internship with Eric Ward at Delta Christian Church. He’s since married and taken a job with the Black Canyon Boys’ and Girls’ Club in Montrose and Olathe. He’s currently teen director and program coordinator for the after school program in Olathe, which hosts about 40 kids ages 6-18 every day. He uses magic to connect with those kids.
“In Olathe, there are a lot of kids who think they’re really, really tough. I’ll do one trick and they start acting like the kids they really are. It’s fun to see that happen.”
Danny Ray continues to be a great influence as he combines sleight-of-hand with a powerful message of hope and faith. At the Black Canyon Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Ty doesn’t have an opportunity to share his Christian beliefs, but he still finds that magic is a great way to open the door for any message which has relevance for today’s teens, who are bombarded with conflicting messages about alcohol, tobacco, drugs and promiscuity.
Ty specializes in close-up illusions like those he has studied renowned magician David Blaine perform on his show “Street Magic.” He watched that DVD over and over and over again, until he could perform all the tricks. He was so good at them, he says he was almost a “mirror image” of Blaine. “What he said, I said; how he acted, I acted. That’s all I knew when I first started,” Ty said.
Since then he’s developed his own style and dreamed up several of his own tricks, but he says that most “moves” date back hundreds of years. “The handling, the presentation, the effect — those are all mine now,” he said.
Most of the time, he uses a basic deck of 52 cards that he’s picked up at Wal-Mart. “Sleight-of-hand relies more on the work of the magician, than a special deck which will do all the work for you,” he explains.
While cards are his forté, lately he’s been adding tricks which use an assortment of other props, including a watch, coins, paper clips and business cards. There’s one thing all those items have in common — they will fit in Ty’s pocket.
As he pulls each item out of his pocket, he keeps up a running commentary. He not only wants to keep people entertained, he also hopes to make them laugh every once in a while. “If you can make people laugh a little, it makes doing magic a lot easier,” he said. “People want to be amazed. Some may say they want to figure out the trick, but most just want to be amazed.”
While Ty’s done very few public performances, he amazed an audience at the Delta Christian Church last Saturday. Using video cameras and projectors, every member of the audience had the chance to see the illusions performed close up. After six years of preparation, Ty hopes to begin touring nationally through his entertainment company, White Tie Entertaining.
White Tie Entertaining is a pun on Gallenbeck’s name which originated in college. When his dormmates saw the name “Tyson” on the door to his room, they pictured a big black guy. “Instead, they got a skinny white guy from Colorado,” Ty explained, “so they started calling me White Ty.”
Gallenbeck changed the spelling to “Tie” to reflect the fact that his events are not the type of “black tie” parties that only the rich and famous are invited to. “I want my events to be just the opposite, and white is the opposite of black. I want everybody to feel comfortable.”
Using a portion of the proceeds from his performance last weekend, Ty plans to work with Danny Ray one-on-one, to learn how he has developed a national following. Ty is also using video footage from last Saturday’s performance — filmed by his brother Nate, a student at the Art Institute — to put together a promotional DVD.
White Tie Entertaining has other facets. Through his entertainment company, Ty also provides DJ services for dances, weddings and other events.
Music, Ty says, is as powerful as magic when it comes to communicating with teens. The lyrics to many of today’s popular songs are not suitable for 12-year-olds, he admits, so he tries to expose the teens he works with to “quality music without the negative influences.” Sometimes they write their own lyrics, to replace the explicit language which can be found on some CDs.
Skateboarding has also allowed Ty to develop personal relationships with the teens. The founder of the Western Slope Skate Tour, he’s taken kids to skate parks throughout the Western Slope.
“I’m getting too old to do many of the tricks — the pain lasts too long — but I can still do enough that the kids think I’m cool.”
This ministry originated with the youth group at Delta Christian Church, but is in the process of being expanded to the boys’ and girls’ clubs.
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Ty’s own life seems magical in many respects. After all, he gets to hang out and play with kids all day. But he has no illusions — many kids today need stable role models in their lives. They need to hear that anything is possible — regardless of their present circumstances — and Ty is just the guy to convince them that the impossible can, and does, happen.