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Updated: May 28

Chapter 11 - Teatime Tales

At this formative point in the story, Peter is on a mission to impress Wendy. Towards the end of the chapter, and realising Wendy is keen to leave his company and return home, Peter pulls out a party trick: he claims he can teach Wendy to fly.

The leaving of London: Peter, Tinkerbell and gang take the second star to the right in Disney's 1953 animation

Sceptical, Wendy nevertheless hangs around for a bit and Peter makes a huge show of appearing to rise in the air. Despite the successful demonstration, Wendy – no mug – is aware she’s being treated to an illusion.

Ever the showman, Peter responds by ‘falling’ to the ground and telling Wendy her comment has broken the spell.


The illusion Peter performs actually exists. It’s called the Balducci Levitation. It was popularised (if not devised) by the eponymous Ed Balducci (1906 – 1988): a New York City-based magician (and civil engineer). Contemporary magic fans will be familiar with the stunt as performed by David Blaine.

Mr Balducci’s - and now Mr Blaine's - levitation is a very fine party trick. Wikipedia summarises the illusion like this...

The performer stands at an angle facing away from the spectators. The performer appears to levitate a few inches above the ground. The effect generally does not last for more than five seconds. The performer's feet return to the ground, and the effect is complete.

...and also does a good job of explaining the method.

The idea of adding this illusion to the story appealed for a number of reasons

  • It’s the kind of look-at-me device that Peter would embrace.

  • Although Wendy is impressed by the feat, and thinks she can dazzle brothers John and Michael with it, her outwardly tepid reaction helps establish her as a character who’s immune to Peter’s regular self-promotion.

  • The illusion also called back to the celebrated notion of Peter being able to fly. This sequence tipped its hat to that famous component of Barrie’s original Peter, but in a less fantastical way.


Master the Balducci levitation and you’ll be a showstopper at all manner of events: birthdays, weddings, graduations, High Court trials, funerals and more.

Ready for take-off? Set your course for the step-by-step instructions found at Wikihow

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