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The Benevolence of Magic

4 Feb

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C. Dennis Shick’s article, “The Benevolence of Magic” –  in the December 2012 issue of The Linking Ring (Vol. 92, No. 12) –  talks about the altruistic capabilities of the magic community. Some notable organizations include the College of Magic in Capetown, South Africa where the school has developed a 6 year on-campus program that aims to teach students all aspects of magic.

It is refreshing to see the vast number of  initiatives from around the world that aspire to help their community through the art of magic – a  driving force behind our own arts organization, Magicana.

We were honoured that Magicana’s community outreach programs were also included in this article and would like to take this moment to clarify some of Magicana’s community outreach objectives:

Magic for Children – My Magic Hands

My Magic Hands uses the art of magic as a teaching vehicle to reach children in communities and help them build self-confidence and teach essential life skills such as communication, critical thinking and problem solving. We do this through a carefully constructed 8 week program that ends in a Big Show, where participants invite their families and friends to showcase what they have learned throughout the course. The show motivates our young participants to practise and perform at their very best, which in turn raises and bolsters their self-confidence and self-esteem. It becomes about what is possible.

My Magic Hands first started by focusing on children from the ages of 8 to 14. However, it has evolved to include even younger participants and in special programs, young adults 16 to 18 years old. For example, during last year’s special summer session called Helping Hands, Julie Eng, along with Holland Bloorview’s occupational therapists, led a modified constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) for clients with hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body) secondary to an acquired brain injury. Select activities, such as basic sleight-of-hand technique, were given to promote  the functional use of their hemiplegic arm and hand – with amazing results.

Magic for Seniors – Senior Sorcery

Senior Sorcery is Magicana’s community initiative to reach isolated seniors in the Greater Toronto Area by bringing live, theatrical magic shows to retirement residences and community centres.

Last year, we performed over 50 shows in residences and centres around the GTA. The types of shows we do include:

a)  Hocus Pocus: an interactive, parlour-type magic show which removes the traditional “fourth wall” of theatre; and

b) Strolling Sorcery: an intimate magic performance where a professional magician  gives several shorter, personalized shows to smaller groups one after the other; and

c) Dynamic Duo: a combination of both show types.

Championing Youth In Magic – Tony Eng Youth Fund

In 2008, Magicana created the Tony Eng Youth Fund program in memory of Tony Eng (1946 – 2008).

Its main goal and purpose is to promote and support youths as they pursue the art of magic. Although the program started by providing bursaries to aspiring, young magicians to help them attend the CAM (Canadian Association of Magicians) convention, it has since evolved to include other conventions and lectures, such as Magi-Fest 2013, to  provide opportunities for valuable mentor relationships; and, to inspire, motivate and support youth in magic.

We are very proud of these community initiatives and applaud all the other programs that were mentioned in The Linking Ring as part of “The Benevolence of Magic” article. Thank you to The Linking Ring for sharing all of our work and for showcasing the power of possibility through the art of magic.

David Ben at The Walrus Talks

30 Jan

Congratulations to Walrus Magazine for their interesting speaking series: The Walrus Talks. Last night, they presented The Walrus Talks: Performance, inviting a broad range of Canadian talent to give their  insights and thought-provoking ideas on performance. From branding to innovation to productivity to Olympic skill, each speaker shared their perspective on what it takes to “perform”.

David Ben, Magicana’s artistic director, is  known to incorporate the art of magic into creativity and problem-solving. At the High Performance Rodeo in Calgary on Jan 29 , he shared his ideas about performance – not from the stage but from the dark and mysterious world of  gamblers card cheats.

Specifically, David talked about one area of card table artifice that has plagued the best of card cheats for centuries. Not only did he flag the problem (while entertaining the audience with a sly nod to his sleight-of-hand wizardry), he also shared how he solved this “tricky”  manoeuvre by tipping his famous mantra: “How do you get in to it, and how do you get out of it”.

David is often quoted as saying, “Magic is the cumulative effect of hundreds of apparently inconsequential details”, and he deftly demonstrated this sentiment as he showed the 1,200 member audience exactly how he solved the mysterious magic move – all in just seven minutes.

Some tweetables:

“His presentation comes with a bonus instructional video on how to do some card tricks. Mind blowing.” —  Jaelyn Molyneux“Overheard at The Walrus Talks” on Culturesnack.

@Davidpleonard: “David Ben goes from cheating at cards to the concept of tacit knowledge. The basic things that we learn to make it all easier. #WalrusTalks”

@naomigrattan: “I think my favourite was the conjurer. #hprodeo #WalrusTalks”

@theconjuror (David Ben): “It’s not how you do the move. It’s how you get into it and get out of it. If you want to improve performance, take a page from card cheats and study the transition.”

Read more from #thewalrustalks on What Was Overheard at the Walrus Talks.

Congratulations to all the speakers. Clearly, it was a very successful event and we look forward to following future Walrus Talks!

Ross Bertram Exhibition

14 Oct
Ross Bertram

Ross Bertram

We are pleased to announce the launch of our latest online exhibition dedicated to master magician, Ross Bertram.

Curator, David Ben (Magicana’s artistic director) has created a rich and insightful exhibition about his magic mentor, revealing a treasure trove of ephemera, history and archival material.

Magicana is honoured to present this online exhibition on Ross Bertram alongside our other ongoing exhibitions:

Visit our exhibition and let us know what you think!

It’s been really busy …

10 Sep

In June, in partnership with Luminato, Magicana presented Juan Tamariz, Mac King, Max Maven and Bob Sheets in Toronto. We also presented three My Magic Hands programs which were timed to conclude to have Luminato guest performer, Bob Sheets close “The Big Show” – a magic show recital by students.

During July we delivered special one-on-one versions of  My Magic Hands at Holland Bloorview, and scheduled an additional summer session to coincide with another visiting guest magician, Rafael Benatar of Spain.

In August, we partnered with Montreal Magic Jam to produce Gaëtan Bloom and Rafael Benatar in an international double-header lecture for both Montreal and  Toronto, which also included intensive card workshops by Rafael Benatar.

We were also thrilled to also produce Jim Steinmeyer’s “Gee 20” Lecture for Torontonians in August. Jim rarely lectures, so having this creative genius present was an added bonus to Magicana’s summer lecture series.

Steve Forte

Steve Forte presenting at 31FN

In addition to these lectures and workshops, Magicana also hosted the eighth, and final instalment, of 31 Faces North – an intimate gathering of 31 (which swelled to more than 40) magicians from around the globe. For four wonderful days, we were treated to first-class lecture presentations, magic performances and, of course, generous sharing. A huge highlight for the group was having Steve Forte come and present something special for the group.

To round off an excellent summer, we just received notice that our latest publication, A Grand Exposé has finally been delivered! As soon as the books arrive to our fulfillment facility in the USA, advance orders will be processed and mailed out – we anticipate September 15 shipping.

This 1860s reprint is truly, a gem of a read. The Advance Order Offer expires at midnight September 10, so if you haven’t already done so, order now before the price goes up!

We now will turn our attentions back to online exhibitions, blogs, another publication (it’s another secret!) and our beloved community  projects with My Magic Hands and Senior Sorcery. We have a full scheduled planned with our community programs and hope to squeeze in one more surprise before the year’s end.

31 Faces North 2010

27 Aug

This past week from August 19 to 22, Magicana – in association with Allan Slaight – hosted the eighth, and final, 31 Faces North Conference.

For four amazing days (and nights) magicians from around the globe gathered to share, explore and collaborate on all things magic. The conference was originally limited to 31 attendees, hence its name. However, this year, the group swelled to 43 participants marking not only our largest group, but also one of our most successful gatherings to date.

We were thrilled to have Jim Steinmeyer and Gaëtan Bloom as our 2010  guests of honour. Jim provided an amazing and in-depth historical research presentation, which clearly outlined his passion and commitment to discovering the past. His engaging, methodical and systematic approach demonstrated Jim’s success as a creative consultant, magician and guest speaker. Gaëtan Bloom gave a jam-packed, non-stop, two-hour presentation! He energetically shared his prolific ideas and revealed his unorthodox methods of solving classic problems. An eye-opening experience to say the least.

And, thanks to the 31FN gathering, Magicana was able to present both guests of honour to the greater magic community by producing two separate lectures, which bookended the 31 Faces North weekend.

An additional highlight for this year’s event was the participation of card-handling expert and gambling consultant, Steve Forte. Steve gave an intensive and in-depth look into gaming and gambling, and provided some (almost unbelievable) insights into this mysterious world. His expertise resonated strongly with the group  – a group which holds Steve in high regard as one of the finest sleight-of-hand experts in the world. Beyond all of his knowledge and sharing, we also found Steve to be an extraordinary generous individual, always giving his time freely to others.

At the end of formal programming at 31, participants are asked to cast their vote for the “Marshall Award” (named in honour of the Dean of Magic, Jay Marshall) – an award given to the individual who participants believe contributed the most to making the conference a success. It was no surprise when Steve Forte was named as this year’s recipient. Congratulations, Steve!

While the 31 Faces North tradition has come to a natural conclusion, its spirit of sharing, brokering knowledge, building relationships, and contributing to the art of magic certainly lives on. We are seeing more and more of this at gathering such as Magic-Con and the Essential Magic Conference.

So what’s next  for us? Well, stay tuned as we move on to our next adventure in the exploration of magic as a performing art.

Hola!

19 Aug

Oh what a show!

My Magic Hands

Rafael Benatar works his magical charms at My Magic Hand's Big Show at Holland Bloorview

The newly-minted magicians from our latest round of My Magic Hands at Holland Bloorview were outstanding at their “Big Show”. They stood bravely alongside one another showcasing their routines, reciting their scripts and sharing their magic.

I had the privilege of working with these young people and found myself telling magician, Rafael Benatar, all about them over the course of the program (which was an intensive summer version of six sessions in just three weeks). Rafael was touched by the work that the children put into the program and graciously offered to give a special presentation at their Big Show (and graduation) during his visit to Toronto.

The Holland Bloorview magicians were very excited at prospect of meeting this famous magician from Spain and greeted him with giant smiles and a very hearty, “HOLA!” upon his arrival. In top form, Rafael charmed them with his funny and magical routines rounding off another successful session at Holland Bloorview. It was very touching to see how magic brings such joy and laughter into the lives of our participants and their families.

We thank the wonderful staff and health-care workers at Holland Bloorview for hosting us — and we give an extra special “thank you” to our extraordinary team of volunteers. The volunteers are “magic coaches” and the secret ingredient to making the program sing!

We also send muchas gracias to Rafael for sharing his talents and inspiring the participants. The smiles he created at our Big Show will last a lifetime.

Special Guest at Holland Bloorview

13 Aug

As previously reported, Magicana will be finishing up our lastest round of My Magic Hands (our eleventh this year!) at Holland Bloorview next week. Read more about the kind of magic kids generate for us magicians!

Holland Bloorview

Bob Sheets at Holland Bloorview June 2010

Typically, the session concludes with a Big Show – a  magic show recital by the students for their friends, family and at Holland Bloorview their therapists, doctors and volunteers. This is a particularly special event at Holland Bloorview because the children really get a chance to show their advancements and achievements on a large scale. We usually get about 75 plus people attending these shows so there is a lot of pressure for the “magicians”. They always shine.

Par tof the deal is that they get to enjoy a magic performance by a guest magician. At our last session, we were treated to an extra special show by Bob Sheets from Washington DC thanks to our partnership with Luminato. This time, our audience will enjoy a guest appearance by Rafael Benatar of Spain.

Rafael is an international star of magic and well known in the magic world. Read more about his magical expertise on our Artistic Director’s blog.

Rafael Benatar

Rafael Benatar

Upon hearing about our program with Holland Bloorview, Rafael immediately offered to perform something special for this amazing group. We coordinated this latest round of My Magic Hands to conicide with Rafael’s tour of Toronto and Montreal. We are thrilled to have Rafael at our Big Show next week. Be sure to check back soon to get a review of the show and more!

Interested in magic? Take advance of our Magicana Lecture series happening Aug 18 and Aug 22.

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