Articles > Fire Dancing
Dancing with Fire?
What is fire dancing? Fire dancing is a creative and physical expression of the celebration of our relationship with the passionate element of fire.
Like other forms of dance, the fire dance takes on its own emotion based on the unique style of its dancer. Fire dance can be rhythmic, vibrant and energetic, or quiet and intimate depending on the environment, music, props used and approach taken by the dancer. Fire dancing often borrows from fire twirling and incorporates fire staff and poi spinning, fire club swinging and other fire twirling related activities. It expands on the art of fire twirling and is commonly also associated with fire breathing, fire eating, hand-held fire cups and a wide range of other fiery props.
Learning to Fire Dance
Expressive dancing can of course (and most often is) self-taught. Fire dancing can be (and should be!) practiced largely without fire so as to perfect movements and stunts that may be dangerous with a live light. Each fire prop should be learned separately. There are a good number of resources that can help you learn how to use these props including regular fire twirling lessons. It is always best to be taught first-hand by a professional, in order to become a competent fire dancer and to develop a safe fire dancing ethic.
It is easy to get carried away with the beauty of fire dancing and forget about the most important thing of all: the safety of you, your environment and others around you. We have written detailed fire safety guidelines, also available for download in PDF, that should be taken into consideration EVERY time you fire dance.
Fire Dancing Equipment
In short, anything you can light on fire, you can fire dance with! That said, we do not condone arson, or igniting the household cat for a fire dancing duo! Some of the more popular fire dancing props are:
Fire Poi / Fire Chains
A regular favourite of fire twirlers. Poi is a Maori word and the art of spinning poi originally comes from New Zealand, though can be found throughout the world today. Fire Poi are made of a ball of kevlar wick on the end of a chain that is swung around the body. Usually twirled in pairs, they create a beautiful circular fire trail about the fire dancer. Here's an example of a fire poi photo.
Fire Staff / Double Fire Staffs
Most people find fire staffs easier to master than fire poi for the simple reason that they can be twirled SLOWLY (imagine slowing down a poi swing -- it will most likely come crashing down on you and light your hair on fire!!). Fire Staffs are made from a wind or two of kevlar wick bolted to each end of an aluminium pole. Much like baton twirling (though a majority of staff twirlers never twirled batons), the staff is twirled around the body mainly by arm and wrist movement, but sometimes through the fingers. Double Fire Staffs are often shorter than single staffs and are twirled one in each hand -- twice as hot with twice the wick!
The MOST dangerous of the fiery arts is fire breathing. Please seek professional guidance if you are considering learning to fire breathe (which we strongly do not recommend for safety reasons). Fire breathers can exude a plume of flame up to 10 feet high. Though spectacular, many artists choose not to fire breathe due to the toxicity of fuel, which must be kept in the mouth for a time, and the dangers of pre-ignition.
Fire eating is a lovely compliment to the intimate fire dance. It involves extinguishing a flame by suffocating it inside one's mouth. This might sound painful, but when done properly, is really quite safe. Instruments used to fire eat usually include small fire eating 'skewers', fire fingers, sometimes even small fire staff wicks. Again, we strongly recommend professional guidance in order to insure your safety if learning to fire eat.
Fire Painting / Fire Trails
Trails are quite often performed in combination with a fire eating dance. Fire Painting involves pressing a live wick firmly to the skin of the body (usually the arm) and dragging in order to create a fire trail effect along the skin. With the required pressure, only the wick makes contact with the skin (not the flame) which leaves the fire artist with only a warm (not burning) sensation, as what is burning is in fact the fuel in the wick, not the wick itself. As with all fire arts, we recommend professional instruction before fire painting.
Fire Dancing Elsewhere
International Fire Dancers - the Carnival of the Divine Imagination
Fire Twirling Safety