By Jaimie M. Engle
Dr. Dan the Magic Man, owner of Magic Dove Magic Shop in downtown Cocoa Village, has been practicing magic since before he could remember. At the age of two, he would throw a stick over his shoulder, open his hands, and exclaim, “Tada!” He quickly learned the influence magic had on others and his self-confidence grew.
Dr. Dan became a special education teacher and used tricks as rewards for his behavior modification programs. Those children, who would otherwise have been ostracized by the “popular” cliques, grew a following on the playground as their peers flocked to watch them do magic. “I wanted children to have something to do that would help them interact socially, special needs or otherwise,” said Dr. Dan, as reflected on the improved self-esteem magic gave his students.
With a love of stage performing, Dr. Dan wanted to create a safe, educational, and fun place to teach all aspects of magic. At Magic Dove Magic Shop, kids learn presentation, lighting, and sound. They are offered weekly and monthly opportunities to perform for their peers and the community.
“Real change is made through real life interaction,” Dr. Dan said. “These children may never have met because they are from different eco-social backgrounds, but through magic, they become life-long friends.”
Along with offering scholarships to those in need, Dr. Dan focuses on providing teenagers with a place to go and stay out of trouble while working on community service projects, such as visiting nursing homes, volunteering for the city, and working with libraries. “If kids want to be a part of this magic family, they must interact and give back to others,” said Dr. Dan.
Magic Dove Magic Shop boasts the largest young magician’s club in the world and their original charter was even signed by the legendary David Copperfield. “America’s Got Talent” contacted the club in late 2014 to audition students. Three young club members made the cut and will be featured during a fall episode in 2015. Members are 16-year-old Austin Dunlopp, the current Magician of the Year, and 16-year-old twins William Zaballero, the current Florida State Champion Magician in the Youth Division and Brandon Zaballero, an award-winning juggler.
The Dove Youth Convention will be held May 22 – 24 at the Cocoa Beach International Palms hotel with workshops, lectures, and courses by the National President of Magic Club, travelling stage illusions to inspire the students, and famous magicians will teach. The Gala Stage Show will be open to the public on May 24 at the Cocoa Beach High School Performing Arts Center for $15 per ticket. Find more information at PreservingMagic.com. Limited scholarships are available.
Magic Dove Magic Shop is located at 604 Brevard Avenue in downtown Cocoa Village. The store is open to the public with tricks and gags for sale. Visit MagicDove.com to learn more.