International Magicians Festival
The Israeli Society of Magicians marked 30 years with an extravaganza of sleight-of-hand and telepathy shows by Israeli and foreign talent
(By Avigayil Kadesh)
Dahlia Pelled, president of the Israeli Society of Magicians
They weren’t pulling rabbits from hats at the Holon Theater, but some of the world’s most talented magicians, hypnotists and mentalists wowed audiences with their original tricks during the Society of Magicians’ International Magicians Festival the first week of May.
The two-day extravaganza, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Israeli Society of Magicians, encompassed a professional five-day convention as well as three shows open to the public.
Many of the participants had never been to Israel before: Asian magic champion Yu Ho Jin from South Korea; European mentalist Jan Bardi; Andrew Mayne, adviser to US magic superstars David Blaine, David Copperfield and Penn & Teller; American children's magician Doug Scheer; mentalist Haim Goldenberg from the Canadian television show “GoldMind”; and Las Vegas “close-up” wizard Shoot Ogawa.
The roster of Israelis included 2010 and 2011 Israeli magic champion Guy Zlotnik, perception artist Nimrod Harel, mentalist Amir Lustig, “mind-bender” Shimi Atias, info-tainers Lior Manor and Ron First, illusionists Tomer Dudai and Tzahi White, French-Israeli magician Mime Daniel and “Dance Magic Show” performers Dana and Daniel.
Manor, Harel and Dudai hosted an international magic show combining the greatest magicians from Israel and abroad. Zlotnik hosted a child-oriented show featuring Scheer. “Late Night Cabaret” provided an adults-only experience.
Sleight of hand
Israeli Society of Magicians President Dahlia Pelled calls the field of magic and mentalism “the most fascinating, varied, clever and creative form of entertainment there is.”
She explains that “close-up” refers to sleight-of-hand and misdirection tricks using objects such as cards, rings, coins and rubber bands that the audience can see up close. This is the specialty of street magicians such as David Blaine.
“People love it because it’s hard to believe what they see right in front of their eyes,” she says. “That’s one part of magic world. The other is stage magic, which involves manipulation and quick sleight of hand, or illusions.”
Recently returned from a convention of magicians in Italy, Pelled is planning to be among 3,000 magicians at a global competition of magic in Great Britain (Blackpool) this July.
“The Israeli Society of Magicians is part of FISM, the International Federation of Magician Societies, and every three years it has a huge world competition in a different country. The year before that, there’s one on every continent, and I was a judge at the European competition last year in England,” she explains.
Pelled notes that magic is becoming an increasingly popular form of entertainment in Israel. This season, TV Channel 2 is airing two magic and
mental arts shows: "Who will Defeat the Master," where more than 30 magicians will attempt to challenge American magician and mentalist Max Maven; and "Psycho," starring Harel and Lustig. The mentalist Suchard, winner of the Israeli "Phenomena" (Hayoresh) TV series, is emceeing a new Channel 2 trivia show, while Atias is co-hosting a Channel 1 interview show.
Pelled, who does “parlor magic” for adults -- a mixture of general magic, close-up tricks and mentalism – says she is one of the few female magicians anywhere.
“Most magicians start at nine or 10, and usually by the age of 12 or 13 girls aren’t interested anymore,” she explains. “Perfecting magic takes a lot of time practicing by yourself, and teenage girls want to be with their friends.”
Pelled took up the sideline at 25, out of a fascination with “the intelligent part of creating the magic.” She and her husband run a business called People and Computers, offering high-tech media and event organization.
The Israeli Society of Magicians holds monthly meetings in Tel Aviv, plus magic workshops, lectures by international magicians and community service projects. It has a group of about 25 young magicians in training, led by Vice President Zlotnik. The society maintains a website with an active forum for magicians and fans, and arranges for Israeli magician delegations to travel to conventions abroad.
“Every year, the Israeli Society of Magicians has a convention when we also open shows to the public, but this one is especially big for our anniversary,” she says. “Usually we invite three magicians from other countries, while this year we invited six to give shows and lectures, and more came just to be part of the event.”