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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.

The Year in Review

11 Dec

In 2009, Magicana shared a lot of wonder:

My Magic Hands

We completed 14 rounds of My Magic Hands engaging 200 participants, over 100 volunteers! Participants provided their versions of The Big Show to over 800 community members. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and sponsors, we were able to provide the program to over 180 participants free of charge.

We provided our magic classes to a wide range of community and family agencies across the Greater Toronto Area, including:

Without a doubt, the program would not be possible without our volunteers, affectionately referred to as our “Magic Coaches”. Thanks to our partners, we were able to create and build upon important relationships between our volunteers and participants. A quote from one of our volunteers:

“My favourite moment during My Magic Hands was when my buddy turned to me randomly to say, “I love learning magic with you.”

Volunteer at the Welcome Inn in Hamilton

In The Community

Magicana also provided 42 shows for over 2,000 community members through our Sharing Wonder and Senior Sorcery programs.

These programs focus on bringing magic to those who may not necessarily have access to live magic shows, with a particular concentration on servicing isolated senior centres. The sad reality is that many centres do not have adequate budgets to provide fees for live entertainment. Magicana’s Senior Sorcery program contributes by asking centres to “pay-what-you-can” and in exchange, we arrange magic shows – and funding assistance, when necessary. A quote from a senior’s residence:

“I just wanted to take a minute to tell you what a wonderful performance you gave at our retirement home. It was very well-paced, with just the right combination of storytelling, sleight-of-hand and humour … I have received many compliments since.”

Susan Blye, Activities Director at The Briton House

We were thrilled to add new magicians to our roster of performers including Mark Lewis and Wij the Magician. These gentlemen – along with Magicana performers Julie Eng and James Alan – provided magic, laughs and of course, wonder.

Sharing Magic with Magicians

Throughout the year, we produced several magic lectures and workshops by visiting magicians including John Carney, Norman Beck, David Soloman and Richard Turner. We also hosted our annual conference, 31 Faces North, which was co-hosted by Allan Slaight. This year at 31 Faces North we had two guest of honours: Michael Weber and Bob Sheets. Mr. Weber was also the recipient of the Jay Marshall Award, voted as the most contributory participant by his peers.

Our Tony Eng Youth Fund sponsored several young magicians as we reported in previous blogs, and we were delighted to see a formal partnership bond with magician, Kent Wong and the Canadian Association of Magicians for our latest contest, a chance to win a FREE trip to the 2010 CAM convention in Kitchener-Waterloo including return airfare and hotel accommodations. We are indebted to Mr. Wong and to the CAM for their sponsorship and commitment to youths interested in magic.

This fall, Magicana became the stewards of the Magic Collectors’ Association (MCA) taking over the responsibility of publishing a quarterly journal, Magicol, and producing its annual convention, traditionally hosted in Chicago. Magicana is delighted with the new role and is currently conjuoring many other surprises for MCA members. Membership is open to anyone and is available here. Join now!

Entering the Blogosphere

David Ben Blog Tricks & TweetsThe Magical ChatterboxSharing Wonder Blog

Finally, we got it together to bring you more blogs! In addition to our own Sharing Wonder Blog, Magicana is delighted to now provide at the encouragement of the Johnson Family, The Magical Chatterbox, A Blog by Sid Lorraine.

We were also delighted to support our Artistic Director, David Ben, in his effort to write a weekly blog, Tricks & Tweets.

Thank you!

Well, that’s just a small sample of our activities summary and we invite you to visit our blog archive to learn more about the exciting things we were able to accomplish this year.

We are so thankful to all of you, our faithful blog readers, to keeping us motivated to maintain this steady stream of updates.

We are very excited to announce that in 2010, Magicana plans to share even more wonder! We have many secrets up our sleeves from publications to public performances. Our blog readers and eListers will always be the first in the know.

So for now, we will sign off for the year and wish all of you a very happy holiday season and we look forward to sharing wonder with you in January!

August was pure magic!

31 Aug

“No BS, just good magic.”

That’s what Texas magician Norman Beck emphasized in his lecture to a group of magicians earlier this August. Beck, an accomplished magician delighted an intimate audience with several tricks, sleights and cons from his personal repertoire. He presented his lecture along with John Carney, a living legend in magic and sleight-of-hand.

Attendees were treated to nearly four hours of

outstanding magic performed and explained in great detail. Congratulations to Reuben Gazer who, through Magicana’s Tony Eng Youth Program, entered and won a front-row free seat to this one of a kind double lecture.

Earlier in the week, we were also fortunate enough to feature two fantastic workshops: upstairs, card magic enthusiasts were treated to an in-depth, hands-on class with Chicago card-man David Solomon. Meanwhile, downstairs Toronto magicians participated in a performance workshop with John Carney. John invited attendees to perform a piece of magic and then he offered practical and useful feedback, for everyone’s benefit. Workshop participants were also the first to have the chance to buy Carney’s newest release Magic by Design; a book on techniques for learning, practicing and rehearsing magic.

Norman Beck, John Carney and David Solomon were in Toronto for the magic conference, 31 Faces North, hosted by Magicana. Thanks to all three for making these fantastic learning opportunities available to the Toronto magic community.

31 Faces North

The seventh year of our 31 Faces North conference was a smashing success. This year’s guests of honours were Bob Sheets and Michael Weber. The conference was jam-packed with lectures, interviews and shows and was particularly well-received by participants.

Congratulations to Michael Weber who was this year’s recipient of the Jay Marshall Award.
Keep your eyes peeled for our next Blog … Masterclass revisited! More soon…

Magic Week in Toronto! Aug 19 – 23

24 Jul

It’s unofficially magic week Aug 19-23 in Toronto, and you are invited!

Magicana Chairman, David Ben invites you to attend the magical events that we are hosting in August.

For several years now, Magicana has staged a conference called 31 Faces North. The conference attracts stellar names in magic, and as a result, we have worked with Jeff Pinsky and The Browser’s Den to stage a lecture each year for the greater magic community. Past presenters have included Johnny Thompson, Max Maven, Eugene Burger, Roberto Giobbi and Eric Mead.

This year we thought we would do something different. We decided to stage a mini-convention of magic – two superb performers and lecturers for an afternoon of entertainment and education.

MAGIC DAY – Sunday August 23

So, on Sunday August 23 you can enjoy meeting, watching and learning from Norman Beck and John Carney. Each will perform a full lecture – with a suitable break in between – for a limited group.

I have known Norman for many years and respect both his thinking and performing. Having seen him perform and lecture, it is no surprise to me that Norman is considered one of the “inner circle”, a confidant of the who’s who of magic that includes people like Steve Forte, Michael Weber, and Steve Freeman. You will enjoy Norman immensely. He is one of the best-kept secrets in magic!

John Carney needs no introduction. He is simply one of the most respected magicians and performers of the last quarter century. It has been almost seven years since John presented his last lecture in Toronto. As he is one of the most prolific presenters of magic – and a celebrated student of Dai Vernon – you can be sure that John’s portion of the program will entertain and inspire.

The cost to attend these two world-class presenters is $50.00. As I mentioned, it is like a mini-magic convention, but without the fuss or filler. Space, however, is limited. We have room for about 40 people.

So, if you don’t want to miss out – please reserve your spot now through the Browser’s Den (416) 783-7022.

BONUS WORKSHOPS – Wednesday August 19

As many of us like to learn in a more hands-on environment, we’re prevailed upon John Carney and David Solomon to conduct a private workshop on Wednesday, August 19th at 7:00 pm. Both workshops will be conducted at Magicana – at the same time, but in separate parts of the building. Each workshop is limited to ten people.

John’s workshop will focus more on performance – your performance. Those attending will be encouraged to perform a segment from their own show in front of John and the others. He will then ‘workshop’ the segment, providing technical and directorial notes that move the presenter and the group towards more polished performances. This is a special opportunity for those interested in polishing their work to profit from one of the greats. The cost to attend John’s workshop is $75.00. Please visit for more details or contact Julie Eng at Magicana at 416-913-9034 to reserve your spot.

David Solomon’s workshop is a hands-on cavalcade of card magic. If you are interested in subtle and sophisticated card magic with a commercial bent, David’s your man. Perhaps the best way to describe David is that there are Marlo guys, and then there is the Marlo guy: David Solomon was one of Ed Marlo’s closest confidants. Ed Marlo only lectured a few times in his entire life and, unfortunately, he is no longer with us. David Solomon, however, knows Marlo’s work as well as anyone – anyone – and was inspired by Ed to create his own magic. Interestingly, in recent years, David has become enamored with the Spanish School of magic, popularized by such performers as Juan Tamariz and Rafael Benetar, both with whom he is well-associated.

So, if your interest is in card work that ranges from technically demanding to simply sly and devious, you will enjoy the time and company of David Solomon. Once again, enrollment is limited to ten people and the cost is $75.00. Again, contact for more details or pone Julie Eng at Magicana at 416-913-9034 to reserve your spot.

Other surprises are in store. You can’t be surprised, however, unless you attend.


David Ben

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