Connecticut student heading to Vegas to join CDS as a magician

TJ Salta has to finish his Quinnipiac degree online because the subject he’s studying has already paid off.

The entrepreneurism major has landed a job performing his singular, up-close magic act in a new Las Vegas show created by Cirque du Soleil.

Salta is awestruck by the opportunity, citing the the internationally renowned circus theater troupe’s reputation for treating its artists well.

“I’ve always heard this is the company you want to work with,” he says during a Tuesday-morning phone conversation days before leaving for Nevada to begin rehearsing for the show, which opens He has signed a one-year contract.

The show, titled “Mad Apple,” is described on the Cirque du Soleil website as a multi-act “nonstop New York thrill ride” performed by “a dynamic makeup of musicians, dancers, comedians, magicians, and circus performers, that “blurs the lines between circus, live entertainment, and New York nightlife culture.”

While Cirque du Soleil does many touring shows — the company has visited Hartford numerous times, most recently with “Luzia” in 2019 — “Mad Apple,” which opens in May, will be unique to the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where a theater has been specially renovated to house it.

In “Mad Apple,” Salta will be able to do his act “up close, in a crowd,” the way he most prefers to do magic. He says likes to be stylish, but also casual and approachable.

“After I’m done performing, I want you to feel you can have a beer with me.”

Asked if he has a signature trick, he says, “I create them on the spot,” based on what he senses from whomever he’s performing for. Besides card and coin tricks, he can do mentalism and hypnotism routines.

“I’m not a psychic, but I can go up to anyone and sense something personal about them.”

Salta, who grew up in Norwalk and has been living in Hamden while attending Quinnipiac, has been a professional magician for six years. He started performing magic tricks in high school when a sports injury gave him time to master some sleight of hand routines. His first big performance was at a school football game when, as he started doing tricks, he noticed “hundreds of people were watching me instead of the game. They started shouting my name instead of the name of the team.”

He wanted his college education to further his magic career, so chose to study entrepreneurship.

“There’s no magic major. I looked everywhere. I’m doing my own thing, and my passion is close-up magic, so once I decided to get serious about this, I had to figure out stuff like how to do my own branding and promote myself.”

Other milestones in his magic career include one of the top prizes on “Connecticut’s Got Talent” in 2018 and hosting the Magic Insider program on the Talent Recap YouTube channel.

Salta learned about the Cirque du Soleil opportunity from some of his mentors in the magic business who thought it seemed ideal for him. He’s pleased that he got the gig strictly based on his talent.

“They just wanted to see raw video footage of me performing. No resume. They didn’t know anything about me. They chose me based on that performance.”

There is one chance for a few Connecticut magic fans to catch Salta before he heads for Vegas. Salta will perform a show for the Quinnipiac community March 31 at 7 p.m. at the On the Rocks pub in the university’s Rocky Top Student Center. He calls the local show “a quick thank you to share this success, and because I’ve actually never performed at school before.”

{ SOURCE: Hartford Courant }