By Resham Khiani
Levi Attias is known for his magical talents on the Rock: wowing crowds with his mentalist acts, future predictions and wise and positive messages on Radio Gibraltar´s Interfaith programme.
Singing with friends at live shows, writing poems and “a lover of lyrics” is another streak of creativity he dedicates time to.
However, the well-known local mentalist has found another passion, and one which he feels is benefiting people.
Away from the intense spotlight, Levi is now helping and entertaining a new crowd: school children.
Five years ago after meeting Ana De Leon from a cross-border cultural organisation called Asosiacion Mar Del Sur, his idea of meshing magic, mentalism, and graphology (analysis of handwriting that reveals a person´s character traits) as a means to help children across the border, who come from all backgrounds, became a reality.
The techniques are geared to help youngsters regain their confidence, reduce anxiety and learn how to develop a positive mind-set. Schools in La Linea, such as IES Virgen De La Esperanza and Puente Mayorga in Los Barrios, continue to schedule several sessions a week owing to its popularity.
At times, Levi does not know how many students he will be inspiring.
On a quiet day he is normally met with forty children and other times he will walk into a school hall and is greeted by five hundred!
Scanning the room he picks up on the “feelings”, which could be quietly bothering children, such as, introversion, hunger and poverty.
To Levi it is obvious that these children are aching for inspirational support. Very often if he is doing a particular mentalism effect that he knows will “benefit the child and make them feel better” he will call them up on stage because the applause from the crowd will “help him or her”. Nevertheless, if they are unwilling, he does not force them but emphasises he wants to be friends and have fun.
No doubt, he is a master at creating a joyous atmosphere in order for the children to “feel respected and comfortable”.
Firstly, he introduces himself in a friendly way and, most importantly, that he is from Gibraltar as Levi believes it is “crucial” they know this piece of information.
Reason being he wants to give them the impression that the Rock and Spain can work with each other and put political issues aside.
For instance, in 2014 he recalls doing a show for Guardia Civiles in Seville where he remembers having a great time; whenever someone helped him or came up on stage, he would offer them the famous Gibraltar stuffed toy monkey as “a sign of gratitude”.
Drawing on his own personal experiences of having left school, along with failing important exams, he tells the children “failure is merely an event in your life and it does not define you. I also tell them that I decided to turn my life around and began studying again”.
After the personal introduction, he explains what mentalism is and its positive effects.
Levi takes his method one step further by combining the analysis of body language, graphology and mentalism, which aims to empower his audience.
Not only is he a member of the Manhattan Handwriting Consultants but also holds an advanced diploma with the British Academy of Graphology.
Levi tells me there are many branches to graphology, one of them being the “tree test in which you ask the individual to draw a tree and then you give an analysis of the character based on the drawing”.
Via these methods Levi can get a “quick snap shot of someone´s mental state”, but as he says “When I am standing on stage, I have seconds to be able to formulate an opinion, a conclusion and an analysis on the drawing. At the same time I have to be careful what I say to that person because I am also conscious I am standing in front of an audience and cannot ´spill the beans´.”
The central point is that a mentalist is reading other people’s mind through NLP or body language and this is not an easy task as certain things cannot be revealed.
What he does deliver is “positive nuggets” that will inspire them and also makes sure he never makes negative comments to the person in front of him.
A frequent technique used is the drawing of a dot in the middle of a blank paper: “I begin with drawing a black circle on a whiteboard, asking them what they see, after which I begin formulating by adding more dots, lines and strokes, till the students begin telling me what they can see”.
The simple, subtle technique serves a powerful purpose: “I explain in life we are all somewhere and it is full of choices. I start with that dot and I ask them from that ´somewhere´ what can they go?”
In other words, he is already planting the seed of what actions can they take to create the life they visualise from themselves.
Aware of the challenges the youngsters face, he tells me “life is a struggle, but you have to be positive”.
The dedication is obvious and more so when his methods begin having an effect.
“Realistically, it takes six months to see changes in children but I can see they do enjoy my sessions. I have been contacted by some teenagers for one-to-one private sessions but lack time”.
In the jam packed forty minute sessions, Levi delivers a magical show, making the children feel important and empowered.
If anything, they are excited for his performances, which is why teachers have requested repeat sessions.
As a result of the popularity, Levi is now pushing for evening classes so parents and children can “bond with each in an atmosphere that is fun”.
What he continues to learn from his performances is “the utter joy of motivating and helping people, an experience I am passionate about. Also, I never say no to an opportunity because I never know who I can meet, or help”.