Issues



March, 2014 Issue

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9 online articles from this issue. Next


Dale K

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There are many, many hypnotists that have flooded the college market in the last few years, but very few have ever had the success, longevity, uniqueness or great reputation that Dale K has managed to attain for the last 15 years in the campus market.

Dale has been a staple in the market since around 1999, but most of our readers probably don't know the details of his background story and how he came from being a hungry kid trying to learn hypnosis in Canada to becoming a force in the campus market. "My father was a part time clown," Dale says (completely serious), "so I grew up around jugglers, fire eaters, magicians and other types of variety performers. I was exposed to all that and because of that I tried everything; I was obsessed with it. I tried everything from fire eating to juggling to magic and thought I knew everything. I knew I wasn't that good, but I thought I had seen it all.?

It wasn't until Dale was in high school that he saw a performer that changed his life. ?I saw my first stage hypnotist. I didn't even know what that was at the time. This was a nighttime show at a fundraiser at my high school in Canada outside Toronto. It blew me away. I had seen hypnosis in the movies but I never thought a legitimate stage show of this kind existed. It wasn?t a performer anyone here would know now, but he was famous at the time in Canada and I had a lot of respect for him. However, when I went to knock on his dressing room door as a 16 year old kid, he didn't want to have anything to do with me. I found out that was the case with most hypnotists, they just didn?t want to talk to me about it and there was no internet at the time to just go learn how to do this or connect with others interested in the field. So, I hiked through the snow to get to libraries and look at books and am really self taught. Most of these books were based on clinical hypnosis and many were these odd books that didn?t really tell you what you needed to know to put together a stage show. I never got everything I needed from one place.?

Dale was acquainted with the husband and wife mentalism team The Evasons, who saw his genuine interest in the craft and helped to point him in the right direction. He grew at it from there.

Hypnosis has always been a tough sell to corporate audiences, who tend to be a little more tight around the collar about letting loose in front of their peers than colleges, but somehow Dale managed to work his way into that market first. ?I was about an hour outside of Toronto and there were many corporate parties in that city. That is how I got my start. It was very difficult at first; when you imagine a 17 or 18 year old kid walking out on stage at a corporate event, it was a bit of a tough sell initially.?

Back then, as with today, Dale managed a very unique stage presence and style that helped separate him from the pack. ?Back then I had a very distinctive look about me. I had crazy, excessively spiked blond hair and bright orange suits...I wanted to be very different from the goateed hypnotists in tuxedos swinging a pocket watch. I really wanted to distance myself from everyone else but it was tough. The way hypnosis works is that if people think you are a hypnotist, they will sit there and listen but if you walk out and don?t look the part, people are skeptical right off the bat. So, I had to work that much harder, but it was worth it from a business standpoint. Every time Hollywood wanted a hypnotist for something, my phone was ringing off the hook because they wanted to see something unique and different and I just stood out. I have a lot of pilots under my belt that never aired for one reason or another, but the opportunities and experience really helped me in other facets of my career. I was doing exactly the opposite of what all those books and the traditional view of hypnosis said to do. Most hypnotists try to play it safe when it comes to their approach.?

His nonconformity is what set his signature style as a high energy, fun and fast paced show from the outset. ?Most hypnotists think you should be quiet, monotone and slow, don?t use loud, high energy music, the lights have to be dark and the crowd completely silent. I found out you can change most of that and still create that hypnotic state of mind in a person and be able to make the show much more entertaining and engaging for the audience. They don?t want to sit there and listen to a hypnotist drone on in a 20 minute induction, they want action and to this day that is what I give them.?

It didn?t come easy; Dale?s abilities have come with a lot of work. ?It just takes stage time and experience and I think that is why you see many young hypnotists struggle. You see them in the same zone they have always been in, stagnant, too scared to adapt and try something new. That goes back to the experience of being able to do not only the college market but work in the corporate world as well. You have to be very versatile and a little brave to be able to juggle all those things at once and that is why there are only a handful of hypnotists that have done it. It does take considerable skill built through experience.?

Dale has always been known for his stunning marketing and promotional materials, with a unique look very few entertainers in our market could ever compare to. In 1999 he moved from Canada to The united States and set his sights on the college market. ?I wanted to come in heavy straight away and I didn?t want people to think I was new at this because I was still pretty young. I had been doing this show already for 12 years in Canada and the last thing I wanted to do was start all over again. I thought if I hit hard with great promo I could pick up right where I had been and continue the stream of bookings I had in Canada in the u.S. I didn?t want to skip a beat and wait a year to get bookings. People saw that and immediately reacted. They said ?Oh, you?re a hypnotist? You?re not like any hypnotist we?ve ever had.? The calendar quickly became full.?

There are many performers who view the campus market as a step on the way to bigger and better opportunities and some who just seem to remain in the market out of necessity. But, there are rare examples of quality performers who have ample chances to play in other venues that remain in the campus market for the love of the game. Dale is one of them. ?When you go to the performing arts market, 90% of the time the theater is beautiful, the techs and production are amazing, the sound works great, the lighting is awesome, it?s a full house...it?s wonderful. When you go to the corpo- rate world, as a performer you are looked after like royalty, the attention to detail is flawless and they can provide anything because money is no object. But, with the college market, as a performer I love it because it keeps me on my toes. It makes me better at what I do. It is inconsistent; tonight I could be in a gymnasium, tomorrow in a 2500 seat $20 million theater that has everything a performer could dream of and the next day be in a cafeteria at a noon show at a community college performing over the clanging of silverware. It keeps me on my toes and for me, I appreciate that more than anyone could know. I consider myself a true professional at my craft and every true professional that is deeply passionate about what they do always wants to get better. I personally did very few comedy clubs, but as a stand up comic, the comedy club circuit is the training ground. You go there to learn your craft, for me that is the college market. That is really the crux of why I love this market."

There's something to be said as well for the incredible level of energy campus audiences provide in feedback to the stage hypnotist. "Sometimes the corporate retreats are different, where the ties are a little looser but in general, that market is more subdued than the average college audience. The college audiences really bring an unbridled level of energy and they bring it hard. The doors are ready to be busted off the hinges with them and I don?t think I have ever seen more intense reactions outside of the campus market. Especially during orientations and welcome weeks when all the freshmen are coming in. They are just lined up at the doors and foaming at the mouth to have a good time and let loose in their new, free environments...in really the first place in their young lives they are independent adults.?

Every performer loves a packed house and big crowd, but sometimes the real test of one?s ability is the opposite, this holding especially true for hypnosis. Dale has played for crowds from 8 to 4,000. ?That kind of packed audience is a lot of fun and there is no shortage of volunteers, that is the ideal situation. On the other hand, my record for the lowest attendance was at a community college in the middle of Indiana. They only did their programming at noon, but on a whim decided to book my show for an evening event. I didn?t know this until I got there and the entirety of the audience was the eight people that were on the student activities board (laughs). They looked at me and asked ?Well are you still going to do a show?? In my head I was wondering how I could possibly pull this off but you know what? That day was the day I put one foot on the road to becoming a better hypnotist, because I still did a show and made it work. I learned so much from that, which brings me back around to the point of why I love performing for campuses so much. I am as good as I am today because of my stage time in the campus market, but I have learned something that makes me more professional for all the other markets as well. I have learned so much from the colleges. I have had fire alarms go off, the sound cut out, heck even the power go off entirely, right in the middle of a performance. Once I was even doing an outdoor show about 10 yards from some train tracks and, you guessed it, a train came through. When you are trying to put people ?to sleep? all those things make you better. Now, I know I can nail it at just about any venue, any time, for any crowd size.?

I ask Dale if he basically has ice water in his veins at this point. ?Well...it?s very cold water,? he says laughing.

For a different type of energy and fun for an audience of any size in any venue on campus, consider Dale K for a fast-paced, action packed show that will leave your students wanting more. Contact Rubber Room Productions at (815) 341-5929 or email him at dale@dalek.com