Unravelling the mystery behind magic has been Juliet Arndt’s passion ever since she was a little girl, after her younger days in Kazakhstan bore testimony to the power of hypnosis.
It was post the Second World War and Arndt’s family, German but in Russia, were taken captive — as were, she says, “half-a-million” others. They were settled in Kazakhstan and not allowed to travel home for a long, long time. It was in these turbulent times that Arndt’s grandmother, who was a hypnotist, gathered people in their home and used the art to bring a modicum of peace to troubled minds. And in the process lit the desire to heal and hypnotise in Arndt, too.
Now, the mentalist, who featured in Germany’s Got Talent in 2016, brings her brand of showmanship to Dubai.
Ahead of her 60-minute performance, full of illusion and mind-addling tricks, on May 11 at the Junction, Arndt talks ambition, power of the mind and whether you really need someone’s consent to hypnotise them.
She is going for something inspirational, she says. “ I always try to make my show motivational and educational, because there are many hypnosis [shows] out there… Usually it’s comedy hypnosis, and people are embarrassed in the show, so my show is completely the opposite. I use a lot of storytelling and I combine hypnosis with magic, with illusions. I think it’s stuff Dubai hasn’t seen before.
Arndt’s vision for herself is simple: she wants to be the David Copperfield of the Middle East. Copperfield is an American who has earned the distinction of being on Forbes’ radar as most commercially successful magician in history. And perhaps that’s one rabbit all magicians aspire to pull out of their hats: to rid themselves of financial constraints that poison their dreams.
For now, Arndt’s plan to fly is on the tarmac. But the woman with a business degree who went on to work as a journalist before committing to her “calling”, is working towards take-off.
The hypnotist works at Eco Yoga Sanctuary in Jumeirah 1 and conducts one-on-one therapy and group workshops as well.
She explains that hypnosis is nothing more than “guided meditation”. It is ultimately your mind over your matters. “They [people] are listening to the hypnotist and going into a trance to establish new patterns. Because everything that we think is a pattern — for instance how we deal with stress — and I’m helping people develop a more resilient personality”.
So how powerful can the suggestion be? Arndt replies: “Before anaesthesia was invented they used to do open heart surgery with hypnosis. It is the best-kept secret out there.”
Sadly, she says, the art is not taught in university. “Our mind is a black box”.
But what about panic and giving up control? Can you really make a reticent subject do as you please? The Illusionist talks of hypnotist Darren Brown — whose research delves into the unwilling subject — in tones of awe and answers with a definitive ‘yes’.
“When you go into somebody’s mind and make them forget their name or you make them get stuck on a chair and they cannot get up, this is real magic,” she adds.
Don’t miss it!
Tickets to ‘The Mentalist’, on May 11 at 7.30pm, are Dh150.