Fire as a Partner and Teacher

It took me a year, but I love this photo. I never shared it originally because I was self conscious of the wrinkles illuminated by the flames.
Traveling Circus 1

There’s nothing like a year of massive change, coming to terms with your past, and holding yourself more accountable for your actions to reframe your thoughts about growing older. It’s difficult to believe that I have been fire dancing for almost half of my life now.

As I mature with this element it continues to teach me about how I should exist in this world: how to be soft as well as fierce, how to respect nature, how to be confident in myself but always willing to shine a light on those areas I can grow. It has demonstrated the need to acknowledge the duality of lightness and darkness within myself and around me. Most importantly it is very real reminder that everything is always changing, that one day I will fade too. Dancing with fire is inviting both creation and destruction into partnership.

I love watching dancers in relationship with the flames twirling around them. During my first few burns there was definitely a connection, a fearful one! As I got more comfortable, especially as I started performing, I allowed myself to grow detached. I focused on how to impress the audience, seeing the fire solely as a tool for doing so. To my novice self, nonchalantness was a mark of a good fire dancer.

Maturing as a performer demanded I reframe my experience with the audience from a one way exchange of energy to a two way exchange. From a spectacle of talent to an offering within a shared experience. It wasn’t until much later that I realized maturing as a FIRE performer demanded I reframe my experience with fire in a similar way. It required that I stay present to interact authentically, to give and receive energy from the flames just as I do with the audience.

This all sounds very esoteric, but the practice of it can begin with real life observation during your next burn. Notice how you interact with the fire throughout the course of your burn. How does the size of the flame impact the way you manipulate the prop, the way you move your body, or even how you are feeling?

What is your awareness of the fire around you? When are the moments of synergy and when does it feel discordant? When are you less aware of the fire and what are you more aware of in those moments?

Notice right before, while lighting the prop, and just after. What emotions do you experience there? How do you begin to move the prop and your body?

How do you extinguish your prop? Do you let it slowly burn out or extinguish it quickly? There is an energy to each that can be explored. Once again how do you choose to move with the fading flames and how do you choose to move when they are gone?

These are just suggestions on how to begin the process. If you are a performer you can also begin to think about how you will invite the audience in on this drama.

As we grow in our fire dance journeys we should develop our receptiveness to the lessons of this partnership. Nature has so much to teach us and as a fire dancer I make beautiful art with a part of nature that determined the evolution of humanity. It has been one of the most powerful, humbling relationships of my life.

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