Tag Archives: Toronto

Hanging out with Camp Ooch

12 Nov

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“I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming in to Ooch on Saturday.  I’ve heard rave reviews from campers, volunteers and camper families.  They had such a great day, and learned so many neat tricks!”

-Olivia Tischler, Program Manager In-City

After several years of partnership, we had yet another successful day-out with Camp Oochigeas, (lovingly nicknamed Camp Ooch) this past Saturday, November 3.

Together with over 27 kids, 11 volunteers and 5 of our own Magicana staff, we filled Ooch’s space with wonder and magic for a whole Saturday afternoon.

Camp Oochigeas is a privately funded, volunteer-based organization that provides kids with cancer and kids affected by childhood cancer a unique opportunity for growth through challenging, fun, enriching and magical experiences.

The camp has become an important resource for kids and their families and has grown beyond the summer days of camp. For their fall program, Ooch  introduced: Wacky World of Wizardry to encourage youth to participate in honing their motor skills, communication skills and creative problem-solving skills by learning a variety of magic tricks using classic magical props: ropes, cards and ball vases!

We know these kids face immense challenges, and so we are so inspired to see how hard they work despite these issues. We know that our campers would not have had as much fun nor success as they did if it wasn’t for their dedicated camp volunteers, “Magic Coaches”, who provided personal and supportive encouragement each step of the way.

We ended the day with a Big Show, where the campers had a chance STAR in their own show, in front of their families and friends, and show off the tricks they learned that day.

Special thanks to the volunteers who helped us with the workshop, as well as Julie Eng, James Alan, Joe Culpepper, Suleyman Fattah and Ellise Ramos for donating their Saturday afternoons to make My Magic Hands happen.

We look forward to the next year and may magic and wonder continue to be shared all around…

Big Brothers, Big Sisters AND BIG MAGIC!

20 Aug

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Magicana held a magic day camp for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto this past Weekend, Saturday, August 18.

We salut the BBBST’s philosophy of mentoring and its life-changing effects to empower and motivate youth to reach their full potential.  The mandate of My Magic Hands has always been to use magic as a metaphor in problem-solving and creative thinking while, building self-confidence and self-esteem.

As a result, we find that our volunteers, or “magic coaches”, really are the secret ingredient in success for  participants as they learn magic feats throughout the day. The one-on-one attention, focus and encouragement is educational but most of all the bonding that is built between Bigs and Littles is what this day was all about.

Congratulations to all our participants and to their Bigs for sharing wonder with their Littles!

The Wonder Behind the Magic

1 Aug

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We like to view My Magic Hands as a communal effort, for the successful delivery of each session – especially at Holland Bloorview where the program’s fulfillment depends on the generosity of our sponsors and the dedication of  volunteers, therapists and participants.

As we’ve come to learn over the years, the beauty of magic lies in its flexibility and versatility. Since partnering with Holland Bloorview, we have observed how magic affects young adults in many ways. It has helped them regain confidence, become more vibrant, and practice control and discipline in order to perform their tricks effortlessly and with the confidence of a performer.  A thriving example of the benefits our workshops reap is the Helping Hands camp we have facilitated over the past three  summers.

What makes this program unique is that it is a modified constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) for clients with hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body) secondary to an acquired brain injury or stroke. Participants are required to wear a splint or cast on their non-affected hand. They then engage in activities that promote the functional use of their hemiplegic arm and hand – such as magic!

Helping Hands aims to promote the use of each participant’s affected upper extremity through individually selected activities targeting specific movements and upper extremity function. Magic becomes a great tool as it can simultaneously challenge students to use their hemiplegic side while achieving the thrill of “getting” the magic trick to work. It can be a slow and laborious effort for the clients to try and hit each of the meticulous movements with their less dominant hand–but they do so because of the greater goal to “get” the trick. For an instructor, it can bring tears to one’s eyes!

The program is run by an interdisciplinary team of staff (occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, physiotherapists and social workers) and volunteers. Magicana is brought in to provide the magic component inside the existing frame work of the camp and leads the lesson in magic. What is wonderful is the near one-to-one support that each client receives at Holland Bloorview. We refer to the staff and volunteers present as the client’s ‘magic coach’ which shifts their perspective on the entire experience. Needless to say, it is a very heartwarming experience to see success in the smiles of both our clients and their magic coach.

Helping Hands is truly a program that requires group effort, and we would not have been able to deliver as efficiently as we did if it wasn’t for our magic coaches, our dedicated volunteers who generously donated so much of their time and hard work. Thank you to the recent round of volunteers / magic coaches who volunteered their time to be with these amazing clients: Sinthia, Maggie, Nicholas, Sarah and Pinky – the true wonders behind the magic!

We hope the therapeutic advantages of magic continue with each of our graduates, and may wonder be shared to other members of our community!

Casting Call

26 Jun

Magicana is looking for experienced entertainers, specializing in magic, dance and music for a variety of community programs to be conducted in the Greater Toronto Area. If interested, please contact us along with your theatre and entertainment experience.

We are looking for somebody who can fulfill any of these categories:

1. Instructors/Assistants for Children’s Programming

We are looking for entertainers to instruct/lead a variety of children’s workshops and multiple week courses at schools, community centres and hospitals. This will involve teaching simple magic tricks and guiding children in performing these tricks for an audience. This can include young children (6-10) or youth (10-16).

2. Entertainers for Senior’s Programming

We also conduct dozens of shows each year at nursing and retirement communities in and around the Greater Toronto Area. We are especially interested in engaging magic geared for an adult audience that’s easy to see, hear and simple to understand, but are open to other types of entertainers as well.

Please note that a screening process is involved in working with vulnerable groups like children and seniors. This includes reference checks and criminal record checks.

Please send your contact info and entertainment experience to:

Ellise Ramos
Program Coordinator
(T): 416 913 9034
(@): ellise@magicana.com

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.

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)

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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