August 4, 1953
|Died||August 17, 2014 (aged 61)|
|Occupation||Dancer, choreographer, magician and director|
Early life and beginnings of career
Spina grew up in the town of Woburn, near Boston, Massachusetts. She first began dancing as a child but gave up when she was just 11. Later in life, at the age of 26, while working in a menial bar job, she returned to dance as a means to lose weight.
Taking ballet and jazz classes helped her decide that her vocation lay in the performing arts.
Joanie then began acting and taking voice classes as well. Although told she was too old to be attempting to begin a career as a performer she persevered on the basis that she could at least teach. In the following two years she danced with a few local companies in the Boston area and then moved to New York City.
In January 1985, while looking for the next step in her career, Spina answered an advert for a dancer in a show with "an international stage and television star". The star turned out to be magician David Copperfield, and he hired her. She worked for Copperfield for the next eleven years, until 1996, spending eight and a half of them as his lead assistant. She also became his choreographer and co-director. Her work included choreographing ten of Copperfield's nineteen CBS television specials, beginning with "The Magic of David Copperfield VIII: Walking Through the Great Wall of China" (March 14, 1986), in which she was credited as assistant choreographer, and his show "Dreams and Nightmares", which ran at the Martin Beck Theatre for 25 days between December 5 and 29, 1996. Among the well-known routines Spina contributed to were Copperfield's "Brazilian Water Levitation", included in 1991's special, and his signature "Flying" illusion, created by John Gaughan and included in 1992's special.
In 2000 Spina left Copperfield's team and developed her own solo magic act, which she performed in locations including Las Vegas, Atlantic City and the Bahamas. She also withdrew from performing and began to concentrate on a directing career. Her clients in this role have included Mark Kalin and Jinger, Princess Tenko, Tim Kole (the son of André Kole), Melinda Saxe, Jeff Hobson, Juliana Chen, The Spencers, Dirk Arthur, and Lawrence & Priscilla.
During Spina's later years, she lived in Las Vegas but traveled extensively to work on various projects. In addition to her directing work she launched a video-making business, "Roxie Video Productions".
Spina also penned a column for the periodical MAGIC Magazine in which she demonstrated techniques for magicians to improve their choreography and staging. Her columns appeared from January 2011 as video lessons on the iPad edition of the magazine.
Spina died on August 17, 2014, at the age of 61.
- Allen, Stan (July 2008). "In Her Words: Joanie Spina". MAGIC Magazine. Stagewrite Publishing, Inc. 17 (11). Archived from the original on 2008-07-14. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
- "Magical Women: Interview with Joanie Spina". MK Magic. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
- David Copperfield: Dreams and Nightmares
- "Joanie Spina". Cometa Mágico. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
- "Joanie Spina dies at 61; transformed magicians' acts". LA Times. Retrieved 2014-08-18.