Posts Tagged ‘Spencers Magic’

IT’S MARCH…

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

I haven’t been writing in my blog nearly as much as I once did.  Much of that is because I’m connected to so many people through Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare that you know my day-t0-day activities without having to write them here.  But I know that some of you aren’t connected with me so, please, take a moment and do that:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kevinwspencer

Twitter: @kevinspencer72

The last few months have been incredibly busy.  In January and early February, we toured in Florida performing for wonderful audiences in beautiful places and warm temperatures.  In February, we moved the show to the Midwest where we toured Iowa – where we also performed for wonderful audiences in beautiful places and COLD temperatures!

After a nice run through Iowa, the team flew back to Virginia for a few days while I made a visit to Kansas State University to work with some of their drama therapy students.  Over several days, an amazing group of people gathered to prepare for an exciting research project happening this summer at the Flint Hills Summer Fun Camp.  We will be exploring the impact that learning/performing magic tricks can have on the executive function skills of children with Autism and ADHD.  This will be the first multidisciplinary, arts-integrated intervention model designed to document this type of program!

After a few days in Manhattan, KS, I drove back to Kansas City to present a 3-hour workshop at the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders.  This was a wonderful opportunity to share the Hocus Focus program with special educators across the U.S.  The workshop was overwhelmingly received with more than 40 schools signing up to participate in future research.

Once things wrapped in Kansas, I was on a plane to College Station, TX where I would meet up with the rest of the team.  We had a great show and spent several days working in the area:  3 television interviews, 1 newspaper interview, 1 radio interview, 8 workshops for 205 special education students in 7 schools, and 2 professional development workshops for 53 teachers and therapists.  It was a productive week!

We drove on to Amarillo for a performance at the Globe-News Theatre.  This is a truly spectacular theatre – one of the most unique I’ve ever seen.  The audience was amazing and we wrapped it all up with another standing ovation.

As I write this, I’ve been partnering with Lone Tree Performing Arts Center and Developmental Pathways in Colorado.  It’s been a busy week working with a variety of young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities throughout the Metropolitan Denver area.  But it has been an amazing experience!  Tomorrow is the last of our events here and then I’ll be on a flight to Virginia on Sunday to spend 36 hours at my house…just in time for another snow storm.

TOBAGO DAY THREE

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

I woke up this morning to beautiful weather in Tobago.  The last couple of days have been unusually rainy – but today, the sun is out and it is warming up!  This is the view from Paradise Point Villa – the name of Alice and Danny’s beautiful home).

Paradise-Point-Villa-View

After coffee, we made our way back down the hill to the village of Castara to have breakfast at Cheno’s.  This is such a quaint village and once you arrive, you find that the people are kind and generous.

Entering-Castara

First we needed to make a stop at the big clay oven where the ladies were going to be baking bread today.  We wanted to place an order because the menu was intriguing.  Kristen, Alice, Susan, and I walked through the gate as they were beginning to fire up the oven, placed and paid for our order:  coconut tarts, coconut drops, coconut roll, raisin rolls, pone,  and pumpkin bread.  She was a sweat lady hiding behind a very serious facade…but I finally coaxed her into letting me get a picture.

Bread-Lady

We walked back up to Cheno’s for breakfast – which was delicious – and then walked around Castara for a few minutes.  I picked up a couple of souvenirs for Cindy and then we drove back up to Paradise Point Villa to pack our bags.  Today, we would be moving to the Magdalena in preparation for the DISES round table that officially starts today.  But I had to take one last picture of the Castara beach…

Castara-beach

 

Before driving back up the mountain, we all wanted to check our the beach.  The fishing boats were coming in with the catch of the morning.  They cleaned and prepared the fish right there on the beach.  Of course, Susan and Kristen jumped right in to help them out.  I’ve got video of that “cleaning process” that I’ll post soon.  But check out these fish!!

Castara-Fisherman

We packed our suitcases and then relaxed for a bit at Paradise Point Villa.  We had to kill a couple of hours while our bread was being baked in Castara.  Finally the time came to make our departure.  Mark and Danny drove the suitcases to Magdalena while the rest of us returned to Castara to pick up the bread…which wasn’t quite ready yet.  We still needed to fill time for another hour.  Fortunately, that’s not too difficult to do in a place like this.  We picked up a soda and sat down but I was too enticed by the ocean so I took a walk up the shore.  Here are a few pictures.

Castara-beach2

Life on the beach

Castara-village

 

As I walked up the beach, I was able to see these little crabs running along the sand.  When I came up to the rocks, there were hundreds of them – and they weren’t so little anymore.  See if you can find the crabs on this rock.  They are definitely there and they are NOT small – just nicely camouflaged!

Crabs on the rocks

 

I needed just one more picture before picking up the bread – and here it is:

Welcome-to-Paradise-Tobago-Day3

 

The bread was finally ready for us to pick up – and we had a LOT of bread!  As we walked up to the oven, you could smell just how amazing it was going to taste.  We carried several brown paper bags of bread to the car in anticipation of sample each one.  It was time to leave Castara and make the one hour drive to the other side of the island and to the Magdalena. But the journey was anything but boring.  Along the way, we saw a HUGE lizard cross the road; stopped to help a sheep that had tangled himself around a post; discovered a new fruit that was amazing; and saw two caiman gators as we entered the Magdalena.

Tonight was also the official opening of the DISES Round Table.  We’ve just wrapped up our first gathering over dinner…and the day starts early in the morning.  So, good night.  I’ll write again when I can.

 

LEXINGTON OPERA HOUSE, KY

Monday, February 18th, 2013

The past two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind  with performances in Troy, AL and then off for a few days to Lexington, KY. This was our first visit to Lexington, KY – and working with the people at the Opera House was a great experience.  I had two Healing of Magic workshops and two performances at the Opera House.  I even got to do a little television while I was in town.  You can check out the Interview HERE.

Both workshops went very well.  Tony English, the Division Director of the Department of Physical Therapy at UK said, “I was very pleased with the presentation and the energy all the attendees expended in learning and sharing their successes.  Thank you for your work in opening our minds to alternative ways to engage our patients as we help them reach their goals in rehab.”

The performances at the Lexington Opera House went extremely well.  I can’t say enough good things about the hospitality and warmth with which we were greeted.  It was outstanding – and so greatly appreciated!  When you are on the road as much as we are, things like a home-cooked meal, the thoughtfulness of volunteers, and the little things they do to make you feel welcome make it all worthwhile.

The audiences both nights were fun and eager to have a good time.  The Saturday night audience was especially excited with so many families in the crowd.  The crew was awesome – and we had a great day from load in to load out!

I’m already excited about the next visit to Lexington, KY!!  Thank you all for such a wonderful experience!

THE FLORIDA TOUR

Monday, February 11th, 2013

After a bone-chilling start in Massachusetts and Ohio, we made our way south to Florida.  We’ve been touring here since the end of January and it’s been great.  As I write this, New England is getting slammed with one of the worst snow storms in almost 40 years.

PANAMA CITY, FL

I started the tour in Panama City, FL working with Jennifer Jones and the Marina Bay Civic Center/Bay Arts Alliance.  I spent a full week working with Jennifer including several performances, including one for a group of students and their teachers.  Jennifer sent along some of the thank you notes she received as well as some drawings the kids made.  This is one by a 1st grader who is attempting to draw the “Spikes Of Doom” with his teacher in the prop.

Some of the highlights for me include working with some amazing students at the Margaret K. Lewis School.  This is an education institution for children with developmental and cognitive delays too profound for mainstream classrooms.  Chase, Eli, and I spent an hour doing a little show for the entire school and then working with a few of the students to teach them some magic tricks.  This is the mission of the Hocus Focus Project and we all had a great time!

After a morning at the MKL School, we spent the afternoon working at The Pyramid Center.  There are several locations of this organization throughout Florida serving more than 700 adults with disabilities.  It was another success adventure and, afterwards, I had the chance to talk with Barry, the director of this service location.  He is preparing some of his clients for a big magic show that will happen in July 2013.  I’m hoping I can get back here for that!

The following day, I was back at the Marina Civic Center doing a workshop for about 40 homeschool students and their parents.  These opportunities allow me to clearly show the functional and academic benefits of learning magic for all students – those with or without disabilities.

We ended the week with a public performance at the Marina Civic Center.  The audience was energetic and enthusiastic – a great way to wrap up Panama City.

MADISON, FL

A short three hour drive from Panama City brought us into Madison, FL.  I was here in 2008 and had a great time working with Kim.

The show was on a Saturday night and we were SOLD OUT – only their second sold out performance in a very long time.  The audience was packed into the Van Priest Auditorium and ready to be amazed – about 650-700 folks.

This time she expanded our stay to include a Healing of Magic workshop for area therapists and those studying to become therapists and nurses.  We had a FULL HOUSE of almost 200 participants – too big to capture in one picture!

I’m always amazed at how quickly a 3-hour workshop goes…and this one went by so fast!  Students were engaged, learning, and participating in all of the activities including a few of them who “performed” for the rest of the group.  The most important aspect of this workshop is the task analysis of each trick so participants have a working knowledge of how to use them in their practice.

FORT LAUDERDALE

After our weekend in Madison, we were heading even further south to Fort Lauderdale.  I’ve worked here several times over the past few years.  This time they opted to include some educational outreach programs as well – including workshops for Therapists, Educators, and Care-givers of individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, and mental health concerns.

On the first day, I worked primarily with Occupational and Physical Therapists but also had several Behavioral Health professionals attend the 3-hour workshop.  We focused on how to integrate simple magic tricks into other treatment techniques to help motivate and engage clients.  Using magic can help clients improve processing skills, dexterity, coordination, coping techniques, frustration tolerance, impulsivity control, emotional regulation, social skills, and build their self-confidence.  In the afternoon, we stopped off at the Ann Stork School to do a little show and teach the clients a few tricks.

On Saturday morning, I had one more workshop at the Broward Center – this one for families and caregivers of children on the autism spectrum.   After the workshop, we stopped back by the hotel, picked up the rest of the team, and made our way over to the Parker Playhouse to get loaded in and start the set up day.

This would be our fourth time to perform on the stage of the Parker Playhouse.  We love working with Tate and his guys…it really is like working with old friends.  They take such great care of us.  And the audience never disappoints us – and last night was no exception!!  Amazingly responsive audience – thank you Fort Lauderdale!

SPRINGFIELD, OH

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

We finally arrived in Springfield, OH after two days of driving in the snow.  Guess what?  It was snowing in Springfield!  Oh well, I guess it is January and we are in the north.

Once we were settled into the hotel, our next stop was the Springfield Regional Medical Center.  David (Springfield Arts Council) had made arrangements for me to do a workshops for the therapists.  I’m always impressed that they are willing to stay for another 3 hours after they’ve been working for 8 hours, but they did – and they were great fun to work with.  We had a group of about 15 ready to learn a new treatment technique for their clients.

The following day was our performance at Kuss Auditorium in Springfield.  There was a nice article in the local paper about the show so tickets had been selling very well and we were practically sold out.  In spite of the weather, the auditorium was packed – about 1500 seats.

We arrived at the loading dock just as the plow was removing the last bit of snow.  Load in went smoothly with an enthusiastic crew – and the day moved along very well.  Here’s a pictorial glance of the day:

LOAD IN

CASES ON STAGE

HANGING THE SCENERY & LIGHTS

FOCUSING THE LIGHTS

This was my first full 2-hour performance since my shoulder surgery.  I was a little nervous about some of the illusions but knew that adrenaline would push me through any challenges.  Overall, things went great!  The underwater escape was the one that gave us the most concern…but it all worked out.

We left Springfield with great memories of a great experience and wonderful audience.  Off to Florida!

ON THE ROAD…

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

After several weeks off the road (to recover from my shoulder surgery), today we start our 2013 tour.  In the next few days, we have two performances in Boston, a Healing of Magic workshop for therapists in Springfield (OH) followed by a performance the next evening.  There was a nice article in the SPRINGFIELD NEWS SUN last week about the show.  You can read that article HERE.

Once we wrap up in OH and MA, we are off to Florida…and, hopefully, warmer temperatures!

I have begun working on an exciting new project.  I really can’t talk much about it at the moment but, I promise, I’ll keep you posted when the time is right!

If you’re interested, my first article appeared in KIDZEDGE MAGAZINE on January 13, 2013.  You can find the article HERE.

WELCOME 2013

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR – it’s hard for me to wrap my brain around 2013, but here it is.  Cindy and I brought the new year in quietly and at home.  I’ve been home a lot these last few weeks as a result of my shoulder reconstruction.  Things are moving along well and I should be good-to-go for our first performances later this month

Even though I’ve been home, I have been busy.  I successfully completed my Certification in Autism Studies and I’m working now on getting registered as a Qualified Autism Services Practitioner.  I also had another research paper published, this time in the Journal of the International Society for Teacher Education.  We are moving forward with additional research projects this spring and will be collaborating with one of our colleagues in Belfast on a “hand therapy” project.  It should be very interesting.

We’ve added some new illusions to the show as well.  I’m always excited when we can incorporate new magic into the show.  We are a bit slower than most when it comes to this.  Perhaps, we just want everything to be perfect before we put it on the stage in front of a live audience.  The Invisible Lady is turning into one of our favorite illusions – a great twist at the end!

And then there’s some of our favorites – especially the “Spikes of Doom” with a bog volunteer from the audience!  This picture is from our last performance.  This young man stepped in AFTER the first boy ran from the stage when he saw the spikes!

Several of the illusions also have a very personal connection, like this one.  It was created by u best first in magic, Andre Kole.  He gave Doug Henning permission to perform the illusion (the prop in the picture) and then Andre passed it along to us.  There’s a lot of history in this illusion!

I’m working hard this week with my physical therapists to get ready for the tour to begin.  I’ll be in New York City this weekend for a series of meetings and then we’re off to Boston for our first shows of 2013!

THE WHITING – FLINT, MI

Friday, November 30th, 2012

I’ve had the privilege of working with two of my favorite people these last few days – Wendi Fournier and Christi Lackey from The Whiting in Flint, MI.  Chase and I flew here on Monday….so, let’s start there.

THE FLIGHT

We arrived at the Roanoke Airport in plenty of time to board our 5:59pm Delta flight to Atlanta with a connecting flight to Flint for an arrival time of 11pm.  We checked in for our flights, dropped off our luggage, and made our way to the gate.  About 30 minutes before our scheduled departure time, Delta announced that there were some “mechanical difficulties” with out plane that would cause a 2 hour delay…and leave us stranded in Atlanta overnight.  Since I was scheduled to begin teaching at 8:30am the following day, that just wasn’t going to work.  After a quick conversation with the Gate Agent, we were moved to a flight from Roanoke to Detroit but still left with no connecting flight to Flint.  She made a note in our record that Delta would provide us with a taxi so we could arrive in Flint that same evening…it’s a 90 minute drive and a $170 cab fare.

We arrived in Detroit, found the Delta Assist Desk where we were told there’s absolutely no way that they are going to pay for a taxi to take us from Detroit to Flint!  And they couldn’t even believe that someone in Roanoke would tell us that they would…however, when they found the note in the record from a Supervisor, everything changed.  They issued a voucher, we picked up our luggage, and we were on our way to Flint in a Metro Cab.  It was very cold that night about 25 degrees outside.  And our cab didn’t seem to have any heat…even the driver was wearing a hat, gloves, and a parka!  I seriously doubted if I would arrive without being frozen to death!  We checked into our hotel and dropped into the bed for some rest.  It had been a long day.

THE WHITING

Christi and Wendi picked us up early the next morning for our first workshops of the day at Michigan School for the Deaf.  We spent the entire day here including having lunch with the students.  The kids were so amazing, so much fun, and so incredible to watch perform the magic they learned…all of the “trouble” of getting to Flint just faded away and it was worth every minute.

The next day, we started at Durant Turri Mott Elementary School.  We visited here last February when we were performing at the Whiting.  We worked with some familiar students and met a few new ones.  After lunch, we were back at Siple Element School to work with some “magical” students here.  Another fantastic day!

Our final day in Flint started at Hahn Intermediate School.  We worked with some of these students last year and they have now moved on to junior high school.  It was pretty awesome to walk into the classroom and here some of the students call out my name.  And they remembered not only my name, but many of the tricks we taught them almost a year ago!  A little review, a couple of new tricks, and it was time for the kids to get creative and tell us their “magic stories” to go along with their tricks.  They didn’t hesitate to come up and perform – and the stories were quite….creative!

We wrapped up our time in Flint with a 2-hour visit to the Genesee Valley Regional Center.  This will be one of the most memorable experiences for me.  In a very organized way, young adults age 13-17 walked single file into the room and found their seats. Many of these individuals will go from here to prison, some may be released, and others may spend a few months here.  What I have learned over the years is this – it doesn’t make any difference how old you are, how tough you think you are, or what your background is, when someone brings out a magic trick, people are intrigued.  This group was no different.  Over the course of our time together, they learned several tricks and stood in front of their peers to perform…telling their stories that ranged from super heroes to drug-deals-gone-wrong.  They laughed.  They cheered.  They applauded their peers.  And, for a few minutes, they were able to experience what it’s like to believe in the impossible.

I have had the best time working in Flint…and we are already talking about when we will be back again next year!  I can’t wait!!

OFF TO MICHIGAN!

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The fall performance tour has wrapped up but I’m still doing some outreach work with different venues.  Today, Chase and I fly to Flint, MI to work with two of our favorite people –  Christi and Wendi at The Whiting!  Christi has worked very hard over the last many weeks to put together a great residency program for us with the Hocus Focus project.  I’ll be writing and posting throughout the week….so stay tuned?

CONNECTICUT STYLE

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

This morning, Eli and I were picked up by Sheree at our hotel for the drive to New Haven, CT.  I would be taping an appearance on Connecticut Style that will air on Friday, 10/26, prior to the evening performance.  On the way to the television station, I did a phone interview with WATR’s Morning Show with Tom and Frank.  It was great fun but, unfortunately no pictures!

Here are a few pictures from today’s interview.  If you live in the Waterbury area, come check out the show tomorrow night at 7pm.