How Atsushi Ono is making a life for himself as a magician in Calgary

When most people think of magicians, they may think of clowns or cheesy entertainment at a children’s party.

Japanese magician Atsushi Ono, however, is seeking to change the Calgary entertainment scene by providing a professional form of magic.

Ono, 36, was born in Japan but moved to Calgary in 2008 with his partner, Naomi. Ono credits his love of performing in front of crowds to gymnastics, which took up most of his youth. He finished his gymnastics career when he graduated university with a business degree. At that point, Ono had only fiddled with magic.

But one day, Ono’s friend invited him to perform magic at a party. Ono agreed, using knowledge he had gained about magic from a practice kit his parents bought him when he was 10 years old. Soon, his childhood hobby blossomed into a career as he quit his job in sales to become a professional magician, performing at a theatre in Tokyo on a regular basis.

“I wasn’t good enough at the beginning, of course. You know, the trick that I knew was just a few card tricks and that’s it, and then became a full-time magician performing at the small theatre there, so I was so nervous the first time.”

Ono moved to Canada when he was 29. He toiled as a sushi chef because his work visa did not permit him to be a performer. Once he was granted permanent residency, he focused all of his energy on branding himself and creating his own website http://www.atsushiono.com/. Ono has captured various audiences with his work and performs most frequently for Calgary’s corporate sector, as well as for weddings.

Atsushi Ono often performs at corporate events, such as at this Popup party in downtown Calgary. Here, he performs a personal trick for Lina Chammoury and a guest.

Photo by Melissa Kadey and Caroline FyvieOno has also been noticed by various people, including Calgary entrepreneurs Cody Friesen and Lisa-Ann Lee, co-owners of Poplet, a pop-up party company.

Friesen saw Ono perform and invited him to his company’s first pop-up party at a local salon. The event featured several local entertainers, a henna tattoo artist, a psychic, and Ono the magician.

“I like how he can get a crowd going. You say there’s a magician happening in the other room and the whole crowd will go there. That’s what I really like and he’s really engaging with the clients or customers,” says Friesen.

Lee says she noticed people are impressed after experiencing magic by Ono.

“When he’s in front of you and he’s performing, and you actually see it, you know, you see the reaction and then you walk out of the room, and say, ‘He’s actually quite good, he’s very amazing.”

Ono’s favourite magic includes close-up and stage tricks that allow him to showcase his comedic side, and incorporate his love for performing.

As for what’s next, Ono says it’s about expanding his personal brand.

Produced by Melissa Kadey and Caroline Fyvie

Ono is hoping to perform for more people in the near future, and would like to become a famous international magician, travelling from Japan to Canada and even the United States.

“It’s almost like a no-brainer, I don’t even think about it. I just love magic.”

Cfyvie@cjournal.ca

Mkadey@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this story is Ian Tennant at itennant@mtroyal.ca