Alumnus and magician David Kuraya returned to Whitworth University on Friday, Feb. 18 to perform his “Homecoming Tour,” a show he considers as a return to his roots. Kuraya picked up magic his freshman year at Whitworth after breaking up with his girlfriend. The night after their split, Kuraya was getting ready to call his ex out of habit at their regular time when Kuraya realized he no longer needed to call her; he was free.
“I don’t remember the story exactly, but I needed something to do,” Kuraya said. “I saw a pack of cards and the madness began.”
After graduating Kuraya didn’t believe he would ever be able to return to Spokane again. He found it difficult to say goodbye to his friends and felt homesick last semester, despite that he is currently living in Hawaii, his home state. Kuraya used this knowledge for the theme of the show; the different places people call home.
“I think I’m most excited about seeing all the people that I love, even if just for a little while,” Kuraya said prior to the performance.
Kuraya now studies with Kurtis Kam, one of the top three coin magicians in the United States. Kam’s relationship with Kuraya is one of teacher and apprentice. They meet twice a week so Kam can teach him all the tricks of the trade.
The “Homecoming Tour” was a unique performance because it was such a big show and took a lot of preparation. When writing the show, Kuraya went through five different drafts and six months of planning.
“[Kuraya] seemed like he knew what he was doing,” junior Kelli Raines said. “He was able to communicate with the audience and understand what they were feeling.”
Kuraya amazed the audience with his ability to predict what cards they were going to choose.
“That’s part of his magic, he’s able to read people without them saying anything,” friend and senior Nate Lewis said.
Kuraya’s knack at reading people also contributed to his ability to keep the audience comfortable. He made the audience participate by making sound effects and telling jokes throughout the show.
One particularly fantastic instance was when he had a student pick a card, tear a corner off, and then after revealing what the card was Kuraya cut an orange open in front of everyone and the same card was folded inside of the orange.
After the one fumbled trick of the night, in which he attempted to read the mind of a student thinking of a fruit, Kuraya made fun of himself and said “I guess I can’t read minds tonight.”
David wasn’t flustered and it helped put the audience at ease, Raines said.
David is a cheerful guy, Lewis said. This comes out on stage when he is performing. Part of the stage presence comes from the script that Kuraya created, but he also has a charisma on stage.
Dedication seems to be the trademark of Kuraya. When David begins working on something he is very focused, Lewis said.
“He was telling me a little about what he had to do to put [the “Homecoming Tour”] on,” Lewis said. “He’s a grad student, but he put so many hours writing scripts and preparing. He spent more money buying props than he made for this show.”
The focus Kuraya exhibits is apparent in many other areas than just his magic.
“He is very motivated and has a high standard for himself both academically and especially musically he wanted to be the best trumpet player he could be,” Dr. Strauch said.
Kuraya graduated from Whitworth with a Bachelor’s degree in Music and is currently studying secondary music education at The University of Hawaii.