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The information below is commonly requested or found useful for specific product use or performance applications.

        Floating ("Dancing") Cane
        Heavy-duty Dance Barre
        Ultraviolet Lighting

            FLOATING ("DANCING") CANE    

The Floating Cane illusion presents "hands off control" while the airborn cane floats, swings, circles, precariously balances, angles, and lays sidewise. The following description is an inexpensive amateur device with limited capabilities and is intended primarilly for dance applications.


Using a PCBl7376Parade Cane, remove the plastic head cap and vinyl tip-cover, determine the mid-length and drill (using the smallest available drill bit) a horizontal diameter hole through the cane, and a centered vertical hole (for a 2-3" long, tip diameter head, panhead screw) into the tip. Screw in the tip screw and replace the vinyl tip-cover. The cane is now ballasted (tip-heavy). A monofilament (transparent fishing line) loop is the primary float control. Heavier weight (larger diameter mono) is stronger and more comfortable to handle, but also, more visible - select filament weight based on audience proximity and effects to be used. Insert monofilament through horizontal hole and tie into a loop about 2" above top of cane, then rotate loop to hide knot in or near hole and cement the openings. Replacing the original plastic cap with a rubber furniture leg cap enables improved handling control. Hanging by the monofilament for a day or two will eliminate the tendency for the mono to recoil. This basic construction permits swinging, horizontal and vertical circling, and mock "balance" effects. Other effects require a second loop and/or magnets; if interested - ask.

                    Basic Effects

The following descriptions are for right hand use; reverse if desired. Unless otherwise specified, the base of the middle finger remains in the loop during effects. With the finger un-looped nearly any standard cane handling is facilitated: passing, tossing, balancing, twirling, tapping, various floor bounces, etc. Commonly, a routine begins with standard handling, then progresses from subtle to more aggressive effects - "keep the audience guessing". The following effects sequence is intended to build skill level, not as a routine sequence.
    "Balances"    (Cane remains steadily balanced during vigorous activities.)  Slip 3 mid-fingers through loop, invert cane with cap on palm and fingers extended, allowing vertical cane to rest on hand while supported by spread loop. Better control can be acheived with loop around backs of second finger knuckles with fingers spread but slightly bent as though ready to "catch" toppling cane. Perform dance slides, hop-overs, turns, etc. while cane remains "balanced".
    Tilts    (Sidewise, circular.)  Hold head of cane with thumb and forefinger while maintaining loop tension, "rock" head from side to side then in a horizontal circle while tip remains "in place" ("scribing" an inverted cone); gradually slow the movements until the cane appears to be trying to defy gravity. Stopping the cane in a tilt, place the forefinger on the top of the cap while removing thumb and extending fingers, then walk in a circle around the "floating stuck" tip while maintaining the tilt, then raise/lower and otherwise "travel" the cane while sustaining the tilt - "act surprised/confused" as though the cane is self-propelled. Plan the dance staging to counter the cane effects, giving the impression of cane independence.
    Swing    (Side to side, forward to backward, each diagonal.)  Straighten fingers palm down and practice controlling head of cane with finger tips, releasing to one or more swings in controlled directions, then move arm horizontally to match swing speed and smoothly "catch" the head with finger tips.
    Circle    (Horizontally, vertically.)  Horizontal circles are the swing control modified circularly. Vertical circles are acheived by contracting non-supporting fingers into palm, then swing upright cane upward to circle around supporting finger(s) so that the tip passes over the hand and cane continues to starting position. Some find it easier to support with forefinger, two fingers, and/or with loop around second finger knuckles. Execute with a smooth arm swing preparation for circle, end with either a swing past hand and "catch" cap on return swing or allow swing to elevate until mid-cane is level with hand then tug loop to "snap" cane to hand for mid-cane catch.
    "Dance"    (Airborn cane bounces, sways, and "partners".)  Careful coordination of dance with cane effects will produce a natural "duet". Many additional "dancing" effects require one or two magnets, commonly on the unsupporting hand wrist and the front of the waist ("belt buckle"). A small opposing magnet, imbedded under the cap or in the head of the cane, permits the nonsupporting hand waving above the cane to rhythmically "musically direct" the cane while not moving the supporting hand. Raising the supporting hand to shoulder level, and "grasping your partner's invisible hand", allows the tip to be attracted to the "belt buckle" and follow hip movements; while, with the other hand "behind your partner's invisible waist", a "ballroom dancing" effect may be acheived.
The above is intended only as an introduction, providing some insight into the apparatus and associated illusions. Depanding on hand strength and cane rigging, not all effects may be functional. Practice various sequences and combinations of the above effects and experiment with other maneuvers, cane design modifications, and performance applications. Smooth, effective control isn't easy, but it's interesting - have fun!


This design is offered for anyone desiring a "nearly indestructible", semi-permanent dance barre. It is made using all steel pipe and matching fittings. The first units were installed in 1965 and continue in use with several additional units periodically later added at various studio locations; as well as, use as a maintenance bench rack for stage lighting fixtures. Thus far one floor flange required replacement (stripped threads) and one barre weld required rewelding (fractured during relocation transport). They have been used by students ages four through adult, including men during self-supporting battu training and women to learn seating placement for pas de deux shoulder sitting. The listed dimensions were initially cooperatively determined with the assistance of a structural engineer and proved so functional that they have been consistently duplicated; however, they are easily modified should your needs require. The longest units were planned to be hauled sloping from a pickup truck bed to above the truck cab; but, by coupling barre pipes, any length is possible with pipe or vinyl end caps covering end pipe threads. Cleaning the pipe is essential, painting optional.
The supports are ¾" pipe, shaped (using a pipe bender) through approximately 20" forming a 90º continuous bend and secured to the wall and floor with 3" diameter, 4-hole pipe flanges. Wood lag screws or masonry lag bolts/anchors are usually satisfactory; however, bolting through light partitions may require a strip of 1" thick reinforcing lumber and pressure distribution washers on the partition wall opposite the barres. There have been no problems with support spacing of 6' to 10'.
The barres are 1½" pipe welded to the supports. The top barre is centered 13" from the wall, the bottom barre 17". The barre centers are approximately 10" apart along the support bend. Barre ends extend about 10" beyond nearest support. Barres have been constructed off sight and later installed; but, although requiring a portable welder, any major out-of-square wall/floor alignment problems are avoided by installing the supports then clamping and welding the barres. The ¾" supports are sufficiently flexible to accommodate minor room misalignment.
Over the decades this design has been offered in response to dozens of requests for durable barres; however, if, at any stage or with any element, you are in doubt regarding structural or safety efficacy, consult an appropriate constructor or engineer.
For information about stock wall and free-standing barres, see DANCE BARRES.

            UV LIGHTING      

Ultraviolet (UV) lighting permits performance effects in the dark or near dark by using non-visible radiation to activate UV responsive pigments. Fluorescent (UV responsive pigments, as opposed to phosphorescent pigments) require persistent UV illumination - no UV, no "glow-in-the-dark". Fluorescent pigments are available in a wide variety of vivid visible (bright under non-UV lighting) and more subdued invisible (transparent under non-UV lighting) colors. Many colors may be available in various mediums (water, latex, oil), as well as, materials (paint, dye, makeup, fabrics, trims, papers, etc.) permitting nearly any set, prop, costume, or makeup application.
Ultraviolet light is available from UV lamp sources or the use of UV filters with other light sources. Because filters attempt to remove all unwanted light frequencies, sources not dominantly near or immediately above the limit of the human visible spectrum produce very little output. For very large venues, mercury-vapor lamps provide high output, wide throw, and long throw coverage but are expensive and require substantial amperage. For most applications fluorescent lamps are a more functional source. Because the phosphors in fluorescent lamps are activated by UV radiation, the traditional performance lamp is the 4' medium bi-pin F40T12/BLB blacklight blue which, when not lit, appears nearly black, and when lit, produces nearly invisible dark violet. Blacklight blue lamps are available in several sizes from a few inches to 8 feet. The very economical F40T12/BL (blacklight) is the same lamp without the BLB internal blue-black visible light filter. When not illuminated it looks like a cool white lamp but when lit emits a mild visible lavender, as well as, largely UV output.
As with most performance lighting applications, UV should be mounted overhead for best performance area coverage. More importantly it should be understood that ultraviolet radiation is harmful to the eyes and therefore should never be put in the performers' or audience sight lines. While this does not prohibit the up stage use of floor units behind ground rows to light backgrounds or sets, UV footlights or side lights should be avoided.


Children on stage during a blackout may prove problematic. If complete performer invisibility is not required, using BL (unfiltered) lamps permit the children to more safely navigate their surroundings.
For a vibrant background consider UV lit upstage with low speed fanned fluorescent slit-drape while performing under moderate down stage lighting.
UV set pieces to open a scene in blackout are not only striking, but can provide a limited introduction to a scene which, when generally lit, includes a more complex array of non-UV pieces. This is an excellent technique to introduce a fantasy theme.
Visualize abstract animations under BLB.
Consider ribbon wands, capes, lengths of chiffon, "disconnected" hats, hands, shoes.
Need fluorescent gloves or other "white" fabric? Rinse them in bluing, which is fluorescent dye.
IN PASSING: Because shorter (higher frequency) waves are more easily redirected, the atmospheric dispersion of the violet and ultraviolet sunlight waves produces the blue sky.

                    Series Fixture Design

A few commercial UV fixtures are listed with SPECIAL EFFECTS - ULTRA-VIOLET. For occasional personal use, an inexpensive alternative are 4' fluorescent shop lights with UV lamps. 4' fluorescent lamps provide only 40 watts output, encouraging the use of several dual lamp fixtures to provide a reasonable effect across the width of a stage. Common, inexpensive fluorescent ballasts should not be powered by a dimmed circuit; so, if the available dimmers cannot be converted to "switch" (non-dimming on/off) mode, a stage wall outlet may be used. To facilitate easy simultaneous multi-fixtures control, the shop lights may be rewired with male and female power cords, allowing series connection of several fixtures controlled at a single power source. Although the above graphics are of one brand of single lamp fixtures, anyone with functional electrical capability should be able to accommodate the design concept to other dual lamp fixtures. If in doubt, consult an electrician. Sorry for the poor graphics quality. When time permits they will be improved. Until then, if assistance is desired, contact GTS.
The above design uses 15 amp 3-wire electrical cable and 5-15 PBG (15 amp parallel blade grounded household type) in-line male plug and female receptacle, but twist-lock or other connectors may be substituted. The fixture end plates include "knock-outs" for electrical conduit or strain reliefs, the latter here securing the cables. The male cable in this design is cut to 5'6" with a 3' "pigtail" outside the fixture. The female lead is 3' with 1' exposed. This spaces in-use fixtures about 3' to 3½' apart after looping joined cables around batten.
The internal connections are:
Wire nut the 2 cable white wires to the white lead from the ballast.
Wire nut the 2 cable black wires to the black ballast lead.
Drill an adjacent small bolt hole through the back of the fixture, sand off any enamel around inside of hole, attach ring terminals to the 2 green cable wires, (from the exterior) push a bolt through the fixture, place the ring terminals on the bolt, cover them with a washer, then lock down with a nut.
The external connections are:
Install strain reliefs in knock-out holes, place cables through the knock-outs, and secure cables, with strain reliefs.
Attach in-line plug and socket.
Use a volt/ohm/milliamp meter or multi-meter to test continuities and for shorts. Install lamps and test.
Also, if desired:
NOTE: Drilling holes near the ends of the back of the fixture allows mounting C-clamps (use washer inside fixture). Because 40 watt illuminated fluorescent lamps remain warm (not hot), a mesh screen or two or more loops of synthetic cord or insulated wire may be gently wrapped around the body and lamps, serving as safety lamp retainers should a lamp be shaken loose while being used on a fly system.
As always, if in doubt, hire an electrician.

This file was partially updated 4/26/10.