Tag Archives: Juan Esteban Varela

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.

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)

Luminato Discount Offer

2 May

Magic enthusiasts: a special offer* just for you!

We are presenting Mind Over Matter with Luminato and we have just arranged a special  10% discount.

Use this link to BUY and SAVE NOW

Or, call 416-368-4849/4TIX (Password MAGICANA).

June 8 – 9 at 8PM, June 10 at 2PM, Fleck Dance Theatre
$35.00 – $45.00 

SPECIAL: USE THIS LINK TO SAVE!

THE ALPHA PROJECT is the world premiere of Banachek’s astonishing new show. It features psychokinesis, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, hypnotism, séances and, perhaps most amazing, dermaoptics—the magic of sensing without sight. Often described as the world’s greatest mentalist, British-born Banachek earned international headlines at the age of 18, when after four years of close examination the scientists at the Washington University declared him a genuine psychic. He later revealed he had fooled the experts, debunking their entire study.

“The strangest thing I have ever seen, amazing!” – William Shatner

June 11 at 5:30 PM, June 12 – 14 at 7:15 PM, The RBC Lobby at TIFF Bell Lightbox

FREE Event!

As charming and funny as he is thrilling, Richard Turner’s abilities to manipulate cards in THE CHEAT leaves audiences utterly astonished and completely dumbfounded. Turner isn’t just a card cheat, he’s a blind card cheat. The Texas-born Turner is a master card mechanic who has entranced such legends as Muhammad Ali, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, and more recently, Brad Pitt. With the ability to wipe out any high stakes gambler, Turner’s finger sensitivity is so acute that United States Playing Card Company employs him as a “touch analyst” to test the texture and flexibility of its decks. 

June 15 – 16 at 8PM, June 17 at 2PM, Hart House Theatre
$35.00

SPECIALUSE THIS LINK TO SAVE!

Can the non-sighted experience the same sense of astonishment that a sighted audience feels when witnessing magic? So asked Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela. FROM THE DARK is a unique and interactive experience that takes place in complete darkness. After blindfolding spectators and providing them with a box of props, Varela directs the audience in the dark and creates magical feats – and the experience of a magic show – without the audience seeing it, proving that, as long as a person has the ability to imagine, they can use fantasy to create fiction.

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* This is a limited time offer only. Offer is valid until 11:59PM Sunday May 20, 2012 for online sales only. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday 11am – 7pm and Saturdays 11am to 3pm; the offer is only valid until 4pm on Saturday May 19, 2012.

Offer is subject to availability. Offer cannot be applied to previously purchased tickets or combined with any other offers or promotions.

Call for Volunteers!

20 Apr

Be A Part of Magic!

Seeking volunteer magicians/performers for a Luminato show.

No experience required.

Can the non-sighted experience the same sense of astonishment that those with sight feel when witnessing magic? For Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela, anyone with an imagination can transform fantasy into reality. In From the Dark, he does just that. Each audience member is blindfolded, provided with a box of props and then, individually and collectively, directed by him to create magical feats. It is a unique and thrilling experience.

We are looking for volunteer magicians/performers to help make the magic happen!

From the Dark offers audiences the chance to experience magic through touch, sound and smell, but it relies on assistants to work with small groups of audience members, providing instruction and assisting in the execution of the tricks.

Volunteers will be needed for:

–       one training session in advance of the festival (May 26, 29 or June 5)

–       Friday, June 15, 2PM-10:30PM

–       Saturday, June 16, 7PM-10:30PM

–       Sunday, June 17, 1PM-4:30PM

Volunteers must be 18 years or older and should have an interest in magic or theatre, be strong public speakers and have a passion for performance. A background in magic or theatre is an asset. Please note: Volunteers will be working in the dark (with small flashlights) and must be comfortable in this environment.

To apply for this position, please send an email to Mitchell (mmarcus@luminato.com) with your resume by 5pm on May 11. Please include a contact number and a brief (100 words or less) description of your theatre/magic background and your interest in this position.

Please note that this is a Toronto-based opportunity, meaning all training and actual volunteering will be held in Toronto. Call times subject to change.

Get your Luminato Tickets now!

19 Apr

Click here to download the full Luminato 2012 brochure

Luminato tickets can now be purchased by the general public, bringing you one step closer to Toronto’s  electrifying festival.

Magicana is proud to present three enthralling, cutting-edge shows that will surely challenge the way you perceive the world.

1. THE ALPHA PROJECT

June 8, 9 @8PM, June 10 @2PM
Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West

Tickets: $35, $45

Is it real or make believe?

Many believe they have experienced the paranormal, but are there invisible connections that exist between us? Can we transcend the distinctions between past, present and future? Banachek is a real mentalist the only one declared by a team of scientists at Washington University as a genuine psychic.

But is he?

Banachek’s Alpha Project is his story, and the story of his exploration of telepathy, spirit channeling, ESP, prediction, metal bending, psychokinesis and past life regression.

In The Alpha Project, Banachek reveals the beauty and danger of make believe.

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes, including intermission.

BUY TICKETS

2. RICHARD TURNER: THE CHEAT

June 11 @ 5:30 PM, June 12–14 @ 7:15 PM
The RBC Lobby at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West

Tickets: Free

Can you beat The Cheat?

Richard Turner is known as “The Cheat”, a card cheat.

What makes Richard extraordinary, however, is that he is a blind card cheat.  He uses his mind to enable his hands to perform pure magic. Richard has developed his sense of touch to the point where he can perform miracles with cards.

For Luminato, Richard will present his tour-de-force demonstration in card table artifice.

Running Time: 45 minutes , no intermission.

FREE EVENT

3. FROM THE DARK

June 15–16 @ 8:00 PM, June 17 @ 2:00 PM
Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Circle

Tickets: $35

Just close your eyes.

Interested in magic since the age of 6 and a professional magician since the age of 20, Juan Esteban Varela, hailing  from Santiago, Chile asked the question: is it possible for non-sighted people to experience the same sense of astonishment that sighted audiences have felt for centuries while in the presence of a magician?

The result: From the Dark — the only magic show in the world that takes place in absolute darkness. Conceived for people unable to see, as well as for  adults who can see (but who are blindfolded for the performance), From the Dark invites the public to witness the possibility of being astonished and experience live magic without using their sight.

Running time: 105 minutes with an intermission.

BUY TICKETS

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