With a click of his fingers, or a “poof” sound he made on the mic, student volunteers on stage began dancing, singing, sleeping and more.

Dan Larosa, a hypnotist, returned to Ball State and performed his hypnosis act in front of students Friday night at Emens Auditorium as part of the Welcome Week events.

“The skits are designed to be entertaining and not to hurt anybody and make sure that everyone has fun,” Larosa said. “It’s all about making sure that everyone has a good time.”

He said the message in his shows are inspiring, motivating, positive and fun, and that he has been performing at Ball State for over 30 years and has hypnotized over 40,000 people.

“I’ve never had anyone say they felt embarrassed or humiliated or angry for being in my show,” Larosa said. “That’s my high standard.”

Hypnosis can be used one of two ways Larosa said — therapeutic and entertaining.

At his home office in Connecticut, he said he helps people overcome anxiety and stress, and helps them become motivated or disciplined to be better at things or overcome phobias.

The entertaining side of hypnosis, which was performed Friday, involved him giving instructions and suggestions to volunteers and having them perform those things on stage.

He said many of his friends call him “The Doctor of Dreams” because at the end of every show he asks his volunteers to think of something sports, school or self-confidence oriented they want to be better at.

Dan Larosa instructs student volunteers to hold up their hands Aug. 16, 2019, at his hypnosis performance at Emens Auditorium. Larosa said he has hypnotized over 40,000 people. Rohith Rao, DN

Larosa said years ago what he used to do with people skeptical about hypnosis after a show was to instantly hypnotize them, after which they would become a fan.

“What I say to people who generally are afraid or skeptical is ‘it’s ok.’ If they want to be hypnotized I explain to them that all hypnosis is self hypnosis,” he said. “If I say to someone you’re getting sleepy then they have to allow it to happen. They are always in control. They let me use their imagination, but they are always in control.”

Larosa said it was similar to the first time anyone tries something new and are apprehensive at first. He said he helps them overcome that when he works with people privately.

His philosophy behind hypnosis comes from the motto of an Indian spiritual leader Sathya Sai Baba — “Love all. Serve All,” Larosa said.

“If anyone has ever disassociated before, it’s about what it felt like. Like I was present, but I didn’t feel in control,” said Sean Britton, one of the volunteers who forgot his last name and sang opera on stage among other things as part of Larosa’s show. “I have disassociated before. It wasn’t bad this time which is a nice change.”

Britton, freshman theatre creation major, said it wasn’t his place and not within his ability to make a judgement on whether he believes hypnosis does or doesn’t exist.

Darrin Sims, sophomore theatre creation major and Britton’s friend, said he really liked the part where Larosa made him be an opera singer because Britton can sing.

“It was honestly a little better than what I had heard before, but it was just great to see him do that,” Sims said. “I’m not a huge believe in hypnotism, honestly, but to see [Sean’s] confidence was really cool because I don’t want to say he’s shy at all because I don’t really know him too too well, but it’s just great to see that self confidence in him especially around then.”

Brittania Rogers, freshman nursing major who also volunteered to be on stage, said the experience was fun and exciting. Rogers said she did believe in hypnosis.

“I believe, if you believe in it it will work and that’s the whole thing, that’s the whole point. If you don’t believe in it, it won’t,” Rogers said.

Contact Rohith Rao with comments at rprao@bsu.edu or on Twitter @RaoReports.