Portals Of Wonder was incorporated in 1999 by a small group of volunteers led by then Artistic and Executive Director Laurice, the world-record-holding escape artist and renowned multi-talented magician, mime, song and dance man. Best known for a series of spectacular escapes culminating in a history making “death-defying” [NBC] escape from a safe at the bottom of the Hudson River—over half a billion viewers globally have seen Laurice. His escapes alone were broadcast around the world by NBC, CBS, ABC, BBC to CNN, FOX and over 100 local, national and international news channels. Laurice believes in bringing hope, inspiration and wonder to those in the greatest need of them – to inspire isolated and disenfranchised people to follow their dreams. This empowering message of the spirit of possibilities evolved into Portals Of Wonder. (Please see – The Great Escape: Dare to Dream)
Maintaining a centuries-old tradition within Laurice’s family of utilizing ancient arts of magic to inspire individuals and communities, (Please see Newsletter Report), Portals Of Wonder applies this tradition to modern need, bringing a rare and uniquely holistic approach to the practical application of the arts in education to inspire and support our youth.
Programs are based upon the work of Laurice’s grandfathers and father Morty, who created a pioneering model, Jung’s Psychology, Creativity and Social Group Work, to help thousands of individuals and families build community through the arts. From New York City, the Laurice family has been bringing both commercial and social-cultural arts and education programs to New Yorkers and others internationally, since 1899. The international family legacy in theatrical and fine arts is over 140 years old, and the magic family tradition is over 5,000 old.
Today, Portals Of Wonder’s family work is guided by founder and Chairperson Laurice, Executive Vice President, Writer and Psychotherapist Janice E. Williams, L.C.S.W., co-founder and Educational Consultant Stephanie Berghash Snow, M.Ed., esteemed board members and colleagues whose work in theater, education, psychotherapy, social work, medicine, law and media have helped Portals Of Wonder’s community outreach, program development and delivery.
Together, they use cultural arts informed by the wisdom of humanistic, mystical and Jungian psychological depth perspectives, song, poetry, fine, performing and healing arts and sciences, environmental design and other perspectives in creating harmony and wonder.
More than just uplifting and joyous, Portals Of Wonder’s cultural, educational and therapeutic programs and performances are guided by and carry on the Laurice family history and work in supporting and enriching the community by inspiring and empowering individuals to reach their highest potential. Public programs for general audiences provide important cultural and civic services to the community. Gender sensitive, multicultural and intergenerational in nature, these programs are brought to people who would not ordinarily be able to afford or have access to them.
Many customized and individualized programs and services have been created and delivered, while others continue to be in development in concert with our community partners. These projects and programs include:
– Bringing magic, mime, music and vaudeville to over 10,000 critically ill children and frail elderly Holocaust survivors throughout the United States and in Germany.
– Successfully recovering from over half a million dollars in damages from national emergencies, Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.
– Saving the historic collection and house museum, once the lair of a notorious Nazi spy ring, which now houses over 1,500 pieces of Holocaust era artwork critically acclaimed by the New York Times.
– Archiving and publishing the collection of over 250,000 items dating to 1836, which includes the artworks and a rare multi-media research library ranging from Yiddish mystical materials to Hollywood and Broadway Vaudeville musical theater and pioneering works on Jungian Psychology, Creativity and Social Group Work.
– Providing social case work advocacy and clinical psychotherapy to homeless foster care children and their families in crises.
– Opening a book publishing and music publishing company.
– Creating a multiplatform musical for Broadway and Hollywood.
And much more. Audio and video clips available at PortalsOfWonder.org generously edited by Robert DeNiro’s production company.
Our work has been acknowledged by the families of Broadway and Hollywood royalty from Houdini, Ziegfeld, Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin, to Pete Seeger, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and the NYC Board of Education, NJ Education systems, NY Gov. Mario Cuomo, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYC Dept of Youth and Community Development, Hunter College School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, NYU, The New School University, foster care agencies and systems of NYC and Germany, the United Nations diplomats corps, and many, many other notable governmental agencies, corporations and foundations internationally.
We always seek and welcome your continued support. Our work is created as one-of-a-kind, customized programs and productions for specific outcomes. We do not receive any on-going individual, corporate or governmental funding. Individuals, corporate partners and sponsors play a vital link in our shared community cultural arts, education and social service outreach and program delivery, effecting the New York quad-state area and beyond, expanding domestically and into Europe and Asia. Ask us how we may bring exciting programs to your community! We would be delighted to explore the process with you.