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A Year in Review

20 Dec

This year definitely passed us quickly, but not with inactivity! We still have a couple of secret projects up our sleeves, but for now, let’s take a look at the magical happenings of 2012.

My Magic Hands

Our little magicians were busy this year, as we reached a total number of 14 sessions for our My Magic Hands program. We reached a total of 252 kids through the combined efforts of our Magicana staff and 59 volunteers.

This year we partnered up with Valleyfield, Howlett Academy, Holland Bloorview Kid’s Rehabilitation Hospital, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Toronto and Camp Oochigeas. Together, we delivered fun and educational sessions and workshops that used magic as a teaching vehicle to build confidence and self-esteem while developing creative problem-solving and public speaking skills. Each session challenges our students to perform at their Big Show, and this year, we performed in front of over 500 audience members!

Over the summer, we conducted two workshops in partnership with the Leacock Foundation for Children’s reading program, LEAP. We had a great time working with students from Rose Avenue, First Nations Public School and Derrydown Elementary School. We also had a successful run with our two special summer programs for Holland Bloorview’s Child Development Programs: Helping Hands and Hand 2 Hand for children affected with cerebral palsy and other challenges in the brain injury rehabilitation therapy program.

Our program’s focus on performance art helps strengthen each client’s less dominant hand throughout the camp. It was incredibly rewarding to see their hard work and progression in this accelerated summer session. We congratulate all our magicians and their ‘magic coaches’ for such an outstanding job!

Senior Sorcery

This year, we a hit a record of 52 Senior Sorcery shows for senior centres and residences. Magicana subsidizes these shows for centres under budgetary constraints to ensure that magic can be shared throughout the Greater Toronto Area and beyond! Performers went to St. Catherines, Barrie and even in the beautiful banks of Big Rideau Lake to perform a show!

We hope we created memorable feats of magic and excitement for seniors and residents and look forward to bringing magic to new centres in the new year.

Tony Eng Youth Fund

We are delighted to report that the Tony Eng Youth Fund was able to provide bursary awards this year. First, we granted Sawyer Bullock an award to attend the CAM convention (Canadian Association of Magicians) in Hamilton Ontario back in April.

We also funded the very first Tong Eng Memorial Lecture for the 2012 Tri-City 3 of Clubs Convention organized by members of Ring 183 – Tony’s hometown Ring in Victoria, BC – who arranged to have Joe Monti deliver a special 2 hour lecture for the convention. By all accounts – and in particular by talent coordinators, Murray Hatfield and Eric Bedard – Joe’s lecture was refreshing, funny and very-well received. We are thrilled to have had an opportunity to participate and congratulate Ring 183 on a great job.

We are also reviewing submissions we received for Magi-Fest Youth Scholarship 2013. Final decisions will be announced after the holidays.

Luminato 6

For our third year of bringing magic to Luminato, we presented the Mind Over Matter magic series bringing three master magicians – Banachek, Richard Turner and Juan Esteban Varela – to Toronto.

All three, in their own unique presentations, addressed how magic is essentially delivered and perceived through the power of the mind. Needless to say, each magician “blew minds” away and we were delighted with the series.

Magic Collectors Weekend

In May, we hosted the 43rd Annual Collectors Weekend in Chicago where we honoured guests, James Hagy and Richard Kaufman. It was a jam-packed weekend of lectures, talks, and reflection.

With the advent of more and more magic history conferences being organized, we have opted to move to a biennial format with our next Magic Collectors Weekend slated for 2014.

Magicol

We had rave reviews come in from our two Magicol, A Journal of Magic History and Collectibles, issues this year: No. 182 “Alma” (the special Australian magic edition) and No. 183 “Joy of Posters” (our Poster Issue).

While we are a little behind, rest assured we have our forthcoming two issues queued up, so keep your eyes peeled for the latest news!

New Websites

And last but not the least, we have been very busy re-launching new websites to accomodate our growing membership and evolving programs. Please feel free to explore our new homes in the cyberspace. We always appreciate any feedback you can give us.

  • Mystery & History: the new site for the latest Magicol news and updates.
  • Tony Eng Youth Fund: the one stop hot spot for young magicians to see what opportunities and bursaries are available in their area.
  • Senior Sorcery: Now with its own blog! See what’s new in senior health and read up on reviews we’ve been getting from pleased centres and residences.

… And thanks to you!

We would like to take this moment to thank our donors and sponsors whose generous funding allows us to provide service to our local neighbourhood and the magic community at large. Without your support, none of this would be possible.

So, as it has been such a magical year, we are now taking a little break for the holiday season. Our office will be closed December 24 and reopen on January 2.

Mind Over Matter

21 Jun

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The calm is now upon us after the thrilling chaos that was Luminato and what are we left with? The satisfying aftertaste of success from  the Mind Over Matter magical series!

Mind Over Matter

For this year’s Luminato, Magicana went with the saying, “Mind Over Matter”, a term originally used to refer to paranormal phenomena, to best describe the magic behind these three performers. While each show was different from the other, they all had a common theme: how magic is essentially delivered and perceived through the power of the mind.

The world’s leading mentalist, Banachek, astounded, intrigued and inspired crowds with his life story through The Alpha Project, while Richard Turner cheated his way into the hearts of Torontonians with his incredible feats in card manipulation. Similarly, Juan Esteban Varela, despite NOT being the blonde with rippling muscles as he claimed to be, resonated strongly with From the Dark, as he made his mark with one of magic’s most experiential, groundbreaking shows to date.

The Alpha Project: Insight into the Life of a Mentalist

The Alpha Project revealed Banachek’s life story. Having gone through a trying childhood – abandoned at age 9 – Banachek embraced these tribulations and used them to support him on his way to becoming a mentalist. At 18, Banachek made headlines when, for a period of four years under close scrutiny, he convinced research scientists at Washington University that he was psychic. Entitled Project Alpha,the purpose of this experiment was to disprove others who claimed to be real psychics and to declare to the world that even scientists, when lacking expertise in the arts of deception, can be easily misled.

With rave reviews from The Toronto Star, Mooney on Theatre and Torontoist, it looks like The Alpha Project fulfilled its purpose in spreading this word!

The Cheat: Why One Should Never Play Cards with Strangers

In between wowing spectators for Luminato, Richard Turner, “The Cheat” also performed for Holland Bloorview and the Parliament Branch Library. Rounds of Texas Hold ‘Em, poker, blackjack and three card monte then ensued between Richard Turner and the audience. The end results, of course, always went according to his liking, despite the inordinate amount of shuffles by audience members and, at some rounds, with limited cards.

Richard Turner, along with boggling the minds of Toronto,  also charmed the hosts of the Morning Show and the CBC’s Eli Glasner. See Richard’s part in this CBC News clip in which Eli Glasner calls today’s age a “Magic Renaissance“.

From the Dark: Magic at Its Purest Form

For the closing weekend of Luminato, we followed Juan Esteban Varela, blindfolded, as he guided us through his new show, From the Dark – the only magic show that happens in absolute darkness. With everyone participating, the show quickly became an experience with a sea of voices in an unknown space. These factors contributed to the show’s overall mystery, which is essentially magic in its base form.  Indeed, Toronto Star and Cadence Canada both agreed that From the Dark was truly unique in its premise and most of all, its effect.

And so, we end Luminato 6 with invigorating vibes and positive feedback from Toronto.

CBC News Interview featuring Richard Turner

18 Jun

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Magic world standoff over tricks of the trade

CBC News  Posted: Jun 16, 2012 12:16 AM ET  Last Updated: Jun 16, 2012 12:15 AM ET

WATCH CBC News interview

Professional magicians dazzle audiences, but in the age of Google and instant answers, might tell-all books and video explainers forever expose what’s up performers’ sleeves?
According to Alex Stone, author of Fooling Houdini and a practising magician who has competed in The Magic Olympics, it’s high time to reveal the magic world’s secrets to the public.
“There’s often as much beauty to the methods, to the ideas behind it, as there is to the tricks themselves,” Stone told CBC’s Eli Glasner.
However, professional practitioners say there are more than just simple tricks to the venerable trade.
“You can go on YouTube and find out the secret, but that doesn’t make you a magician,” said Julie Eng, one of the organizers of the Mind over Matter – Magicana series in Toronto as part of 2012’s Luminato.

Toronto Star reviews ‘From the Dark’

17 Jun
Juan Esteban Varela in From the Dark - Photo by Aaron Harris / for the Toronto Star

JUAN ESTEBAN VARELA | From the Dark
Aaron Harris/For the Toronto Star

The Toronto Star’s staff reporter, Alyshah Hasham, reviews her experience of a magic show in total darkness, by Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela, where even the performer is blindfolded.

Luminato: ‘From the Dark’ — A magic show performed in total darkness

By Alyshah Hasham
Staff Reporter
Jun 16, 2012

Traditional magic tricks are all about the grand reveal.

Before your very eyes, promises the magician, the dove will disappear.

But how do you perform a vanishing trick when your audience is unable to see?

That’s the premise of renowned Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela’s “From the Dark” — a magic show where both magician and the audience are blindfolded.”

Under the fluorescent lights in the lobby of Hart House Theatre I slip on a black blindfold, “surrendering my sight” to Maria Zambrano, the appointed guide for our group of 10.

The reassuring sliver of light around my nose fades as we queue in pairs to enter the darkness of the theatre.

One hand resting on the shoulder in front of us, we shuffle carefully toward Maria’s voice.

The theatre sounds crowded, but when I end up alone for a moment, waiting to be gently herded to my seat, I can’t tell whether the closest person is a foot or 10 feet away. It’s oddly paralyzing.

“If screaming starts we’ll leave,” the optimistic woman on my right tells her friend as we settle in. “For now, let’s embrace the madness.”

It is a magic show after all — though what that entails is the subject of much speculation as we wait in the darkness.

Varela told me earlier in the day that there would be some divination, some card tricks. Oh, and that somehow he’d make something disappear.

In the two years he has been doing this show, he once performed for the King of Spain and his sister Margarita, who has been blind since birth. After the show, she emotionally told him that that was the first time she understood what it meant for something to vanish before.

As I consider this, Maria places a small box on my lap, and tells me to strap it onto my leg.

Inside are various props including cards and a coin. We are all magician assistants in this show it seems.

Finally a hush. Varela speaks. He is sitting on the stage in front of us, he says, himself blindfolded to share this journey.

The theatre is dominated by his voice, which leads us through tricks performed with our own hands and the props from the box. He guesses which hand of a volunteer holds the medallion he gave her, confirmed by its metallic thud when dropped onto a table.

“I don’t want the spectator to have any other explanation,” Varela told me before the show. “They can’t say it happened so fast I didn’t see it. I want them to have no defence for the astonishment. I want the impossible to be a little more impossible.”

It took him 10 years to develop the show, which began as a way to share magic with people who are blind (the Luminato Festival performance is presented in collaboration with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind).

Over time it became a show for anyone, using blindfolds to allow the performance to take place inside the minds of the audience. That’s why Michael Weber, the director of the Canadian premiere of “From the Dark” ensures the theatre is never seen at all.

For Varela, the challenge is giving up the control of sight, being unable to study the faces of his audience and relying on their vocal cues.

As an illusionist he demands trust from the audience. But when you are all blindfolded, the trust has to go both ways.

And trust me, under your very nose, something does vanish.


Last chance!

Varela is performing this unique experience, From The Dark, as part of the Mind Over Matter magic series for Luminato 2012. Magicana is delighted to be presenting this Canadian premier under the direction of Michael Weber.

The show plays Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto. It lasts 75 minutes with no intermission. Admission is $35. Limited seats available. UofTtix Box Office / 416.978.8849 /www.uofttix.ca

 

Redefining Magic: Cadence Canada talks to the artists of “From the Dark”

15 Jun

A magic show in the dark?

“It doesn’t start the moment I start speaking. It starts the moment you surrender yourself to the idea, or even before then, when you make the conscious effort to come. Thinking about it, imagining it. And hopefully it doesn’t end when I stop talking. Ideally the magic, the experience, will last long after.” – Juan Esteban Varela

The magician behind the groundbreaking show, From the DarkJuan Esteban Varela and its director, Michael Weber  (also known for his work with The PrestigeThe Illusionist, and Oceans 13) sat down with Asif Hameed, reporter for Cadence Canada.

They breach numerous topics, such as the sister of the Spanish King personally thanking Juan for making her realize what vanishing truly means through his performance, the ten years it took to create an art form that challenges preconceived notions of the magic experience, and the intense love and passion that came with it.

Read the entire interview…

Experience magic at its most intimate form

From the Dark (directed by Michael Weber, starring Juan Esteban Varela), runs June 15–16 @ 8:00 PM and June 17 @ 2:00 PM as part of the Mind Over Matter magic series for Luminato at the Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle).

Ticket information: www.luminato.com

To order tickets by phone, call: 416-368-4TIX/416-368-4849. Tickets also available from Hart House box office (www.uofttix.ca)

Card-mechanic, Richard Turner is The Cheat!

13 Jun

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Richard Turner continues to WOW them at the TIFF in his show, The Cheat! Here are a few photos by David Linsell from Richard’s June 12 show. You still have time to catch this extraordinary card-mechanic (who also happens to be blind!) tonight and tomorrow at 7:15 PM.

There only a few days left to see The Cheat!

Richard Turner will be presenting his show, The Cheat, June 12–14 @ 7:15 PM The RBC Lobby at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West as part of the Mind Over Matter magic series for the Luminato festival. This is a FREE 45-minute show for all to enjoy!

Follow @sharingwonder for updates

Richard Turner, “The Cheat” takes Toronto by storm

12 Jun

Image courtesy of Strut Entertainment

“The Morning Show” watched, astounded and amazed, as Richard Turner picked 38 cards from the deck within a second. One of the hosts then exclaimed, “You did it THAT fast?!”

Yes, he did! For as he mentioned during the interview, Richard’s finger sensitivity has escalated to the point where he is consulted by the United States Playing Card Company to test the flexibility and texture of their decks. But don’t just take our word for it, see it for yourself!  Watch Richard Turner on The Morning Show

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As if that wasn’t enough, Richard Turner then headed over to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Hospital and presented a community outreach show, delighting children, staff and other members of the community with his charm, inspirational life story and unbeatable card manipulation techniques. CBC News stopped by to get in on the fun so check out (local) Channel 6 to catch CBC News early evening news tonight!

He is, indeed, pure magic!

Richard Turner will be presenting his show, The Cheat, June 12–14 @ 7:15 PM The RBC Lobby at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West as part of the Mind Over Matter magic series for the Luminato festival. This is a FREE 45-minute show for all to enjoy!

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