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Cuba Establishes First National Magic Club

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Cuba has Recognized The Art of Magic With A New National Magic Organization and Two Video Libraries Dedicated To Magic

Maria Ibenez presents a S.A.M. wand to the Cuban Dean of Magic, Jose Ayra aka Mago Ayra, in asymbolic ceremonial gesture.

Maria Ibáñez presents a S.A.M. wand to the Cuban Dean of Magic, Jose Ayra aka Mago Ayra, as a symbolic ceremonial gesture.

Traveling under an official invitation from the Department of Culture, Jay and Maria Ibáñez went to Las Tunas, Cuba this past November 15th where they were the guests of honor at the XXI Anfora magic convention, the only officially approved competitive event on the island and the first cultural exchange event since the relations were re-established between Cuba and the US.

The trip was almost a year in the making and was very fruitful, magically speaking. The UNEAC (National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba) approved the first official national magic club on the island, Magia Nacional Cubana (Cuban National Magic), MNC.

The Cuban National Magic Club

Jay and Maria Ibáñez join members of Cuba’s first official National Magic Club, Magia Nacional Cubana.

The group will be spearheaded by the Cuban Dean of Magic, Jose Ayra a/k/a Mago Ayra and representatives from across the island and who will represent each of the provinces. They have named Maria Ibáñez the “godmother of magic in Cuba”.

Twenty-one years ago, Jose Reinerio Valdivia Valdivia, better known as Mago Piter, had a dream and made it a reality when he founded Anfora, which would become the only government approved competitive magic event and the longest running magic event in the history of Cuba. Unfortunately, Piter passed away on January 10 of this year and this then was the first Anfora held without him there.

Impacto Magico following opening ceremonies

Impacto Magico following opening ceremonies

The convention opening ceremony was a Broken Wand Ceremony performed by Maria Ibáñez at the town square before the couple of hundred magicians who attended as well as before the townspeople, most of whom turned out to honor a man everyone in the town loved and respected. This was followed by the presentation of a sword suspension illusion performed by the magic company from Varadero, Impacto Magico which is headed by Mago Chaikel (Chaikel Espinosa Mendosa).

Establishing 1st video library courtesy of videos donated by Michael Ammar

Establishing the first video library courtesy of videos donated by Michael Ammar

Four intensive days of magic made for a memorable but emotional convention. Thanks to the generosity of the donations by Michael Ammar, the first two video libraries were established; the first in the magic capital of Cuba, Las Tunas, and the second in the very important city of Santiago where the Dean of Magic resides. They were most appreciative for the donation and were humbled by the influx of new magic information that they would have access to.

The talent in Cuba is very strong and they are to be admired and looked up to for their achievements considering their limited resources. Jay and Maria had an opportunity to study up close the magic effects designed and manufactured from odds and ends by the magicians there, impressive to say the least is the best way to describe it. The competitions were a great demonstration of the hard work that the magi put into their performances and the countless hours dedicated to the art.

Summing up such a remarkable and historic trip in a few words is difficult at best, Maria Ibáñez was on national television several times a day while there; the newspapers, radio and other news media covered her every move and followed her throughout the event.

The Department of Culture representatives were grateful and couldn’t express their pleasure enough at all that was done for the magicians of the island. To quote Jay and Maria, there is so much to be shared that a few words just does not do the trip or accomplishments justice but they are willing to speak to anyone who is interested in getting more information, on hearing about this once in a lifetime trip….or is it?

This trip was all the more poignant because Maria was born in Cuba and has not been back since leaving May 12, 1962 with her parents; Jay’s parents were also Cuban born and he lived with them in Cuba for 3 years during his childhood before returning to Panama. They have already been invited back for next November to Anfora at Las Tunas and to spearhead the lectures and presentations at the next event.

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