A selection of craft information for artisans of the HFS.

    Fire Dancing


    Posts : 81
    Join date : 2011-05-30

    Fire Dancing Empty Fire Dancing

    Post  Admin on Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:35 pm

    Fire dancing is fascinating and dangerous which only adds to it's attractions for many people. This form of dance - and it includes candle dances - finds expression in a number of countries in the world. It was during the period of the mid 1990's to early 2000 that this art form really exploded on the North American continent. Before that it had been associated with little known ethnic traditions and the circus. Now it incorporates influences from all around the globe.

    Performances are held at places such as raves, rock concerts, night clubs, beach parties, camping festivals and cabarets. Interest and knowledge has been disseminated by the Burning Man Festival and the internet. Fire dancing is known by a number of names such as "fire twirling", "fire spinning", "fire performance", or "fire manipulation". All forms involve manipulating objects which are on fire. Some forms of the art have similarities to juggling or baton twirling.
    One of the most popular categories is Fire Poi. Poi is a Maori word and this form originated in New Zealand. Fire Poi consists of a ball with a wick at the end of a chain which the performers swing around their bodies. Normally one poi is held in each hand and they are rotated to make a circular trail of fire around the dancer. The performance is often accompanied by music. All equipment involves an object which contains a wick which is soaked in fuel and lighted.

    Other forms of apparatus used in this type of dancing include Fire Hoops, Batons, Fire Sticks, Fire Meteors, Torches, Fans and Finger Wands, the list goes on increasing as new ideas are introduced.
    Fire, music and movement are a very heady combination. We fear fire yet we are fascinated by it. Someone who appears to control it inspires awe. We all know that it is dangerous to play with fire but we still want to. A performer known as the Naked Fire Goddess applies the flames to her bare skin. Although she says "it burns a bit there's no marks or anything" I fear that she is damaging her skin whether she knows it or not.

    There are those who practice this art for deeply spiritual reasons such as meditation. They say that it gives them a feeling of closeness to the Planet and the Cosmos. These individuals are performing for themselves. Another group are paid performer whose aim is to entertain an audience.

    There are a number of different Fire dancing categories:
    In Traditional Fire Shows it is usual for performers to wear Polynesian style costumes. Standard Modern Style involves elaborate make up and scanty costumes. Fire Theater is often part of a large stage show such as a rock concert. Fire Fetish shows are extremely sexually provocative with costumes designed to enhance this effect. These shows are also performed for an audience. Erotic Fire Shows include sexually arousing movement, erotic music and very brief costumes. Often a solo dancer performs for a couple. Ritual Fire shows bring occult elements to the performance. The idea is to highlight and strengthen the ritual.

    Fire and Belly dance is a form of raqs sharqi with aspects of fire and belly dancing. Fire Comedy Jugglers juggle with fire working it into a comedy routine. Needless to say any one wanting to take part in Fire dancing needs to be taught the basic moves without the use of fire. Also always bear safety in mind. We, unlike the Phoenix will not rise again.

    Fire Dancing Arts
    Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock – or maybe the Antarctic where you might not be able to build a fire – has no doubt watched a fire dancing performance once at his life. It's fascinating . Fire Dancing is made of a number of beautiful arts, many of which are fire twirling. 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 arts are:

    · Fire Eating / Breathing
    · Fire Poi
    · Fire Staves
    · Fire Fans
    · Fire Walking
    · Fire Fingers
    · Fire Hoops
    · Fire Swords

    Maori Poi
    The Maoris are a native tribe from New Zealand and have been largely credited as the original inventors of the art of fire dancing. Traditionally speaking, the dancing sequence they make using poi balls do not involve the use of fire but the moves, however, are similar to what you'd see being used by today's modern fire dancers.
    Maori poi balls are both dancing and musical instruments. More specifically, it's used like drums when making music. These dances are used not only for storytelling but they are also good for exercising the body. All those swift, rhythmic, and complex moves develop a person’s coordination, strength, and flexibility especially in the arms, hands, and wrists.

    Hawaiian Sword Dance
    Another traditional dance that today's modern fire dancing is based on is the knife dance from the Samoans, a tribe native to Hawaii. Everyone knows that Hawaiians are very good dancers. Their dancing styles are unique and famous all over the world and many songs have been made popular simply because they are often used for Hawaiian dancing.

    It was only in 1946, however, that Hawaiian dancing had been combined with the use of fire. Then, Letu Olo Misilagi was at San Francisco's Shriners Convention for a performance. He happened to watch a baton twirler and fire eater perform and was summarily inspired, enough to create a fire knife dance. The rest, as they say, is history. He even has a book out about it, not to mention spawning an annual competition for fire knife dancers from all over the world held at Oahu.

    Bulgarian Fire Walking
    It isn't dancing per se, but it’s close enough. Fire walking is still a dangerous and thrilling performing art and one that originated from the mountains of Bulgaria. History specifically points to Saint Constantine, whose feast day is celebrated by the locals by walking on fire. Needless to say, do not attempt to do this without professional training. Tourists haven’t been as cautious in the past and they ended up injured. Today, it’s not infrequent that you'll find fire dancers performing all of these and other styles for your entertainment.

    Put Safety First.
    Fire Dancing is and always will be one of the most dangerous things that someone can undertake. If you are thinking about learning a fire art as a hobby. Then don't. It cannot be stressed enough that this is not something that may be self taught. This writer has personally set his face alight, and his mentor has been in hospital due to a (fire) breathe that has gone wrong. If you aren't willing to pay the price then please do not attempt this. Finally treat the fire with respect, 90% of all accidents that go wrong for 'professionals' are due to them losing focus for just 1 second. If this has not put you off then please continue to read below, then find someone that is willing to teach you.

    Posts : 4
    Join date : 2011-06-02

    Fire Dancing Empty Re: Fire Dancing

    Post  ashblackstar on Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:13 pm

    I would also like to point out that fire dancing should never be done alone. Always have a safety technician with you any time you use fire, and always have the proper safety equipment readily available.

    Clothing choice is equally important. At one point during a performance, my mother, who was not scheduled to perform that evening, decided to perform, while wearing thin cotton pants. They caught fire, and left her with a severe third degree burn on her stomach. Thankfully it didn't turn out worse, because not only was I present, but so was my safety technician, who managed to douse the fire before it spread. I prefer leather or denim, and always have my hair contained in a tight ponytail beneath a water soaked bandana.

    Also, I would highly recommend reading the article "A Season In Hell" by Pele, before lighting up the first time, and before considering fire eating. Pele suffered a severe accident, even with having taken safety precautions. She still performs with fire, so this article is not to disuade people from the art, however it is a sobering reminder of why all fire performance arts are dangerous, and why fire must be respected by any that choose to use it in this manner

    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir
    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir

    Posts : 28
    Join date : 2011-06-02
    Age : 51

    Fire Dancing Empty Fire Dancing Saftey

    Post  Dame Katrin Karlsdottir on Thu Jun 02, 2011 10:31 pm

    I agree! Fire
    safety is the number 1 priority of fire dancing. Fire Dancing is fun. But it
    can also be dangerous. To maximize the safety of ourselves and others, it is
    important to be aware of the dangers that fire can present. By following some
    simple guidelines (many of which are common sense) we can ensure that we will
    twirl in a safe manner and further enjoy the beauty of this dynamic art.

    Common Sense

    fire twirl under the influence of any drug, including alcohol. Check the
    equipment you use to fire twirl is free from damage including loose screws,
    frayed wick, deteriorating grips or other obvious defects before each use. Only
    twirl with fire what you are competent and comfortable doing and have practiced
    extensively with unlit equipment. Don't twirl in areas that are a fire danger,
    for example with overhanging trees, dry grass or loose foliage. Be aware of
    wind direction and that flames may travel if the wind is too strong.


    fire twirl alone, especially if you are new to fire dancing -- a second person
    can watch over your safety while you are using fire and help in case of any
    accident. Wear clothes of natural fibers (like cotton) that are not floppy or
    loose to avoid setting yourself on fire. Make sure you have safety equipment
    handy such as a fire blanket or damp cloth (that is *never* used to mop up
    fuel). Importantly, be confident with your fire safety equipment and KNOW HOW
    TO USE THEM before an accident occurs.

    Safety of

    very aware of your environment and the people in it. Make sure you have a lot
    of space around you when you fire twirl and keep an eye out for people who may
    wander by while you are dancing.


    most common fuel used for fire dancing is kerosene. Kerosene is known to
    contain harmful additives in other countries, so be sure to get some local fuel
    advice before using it elsewhere. Kerosene (or paraffin) is an inexpensive and
    readily available fuel that has good qualities for dancing (a low burn
    temperature and high flash point). Similar fuels that are good for dancing
    include odorless kerosene and citronella oil. Make sure your fuel is in a well
    labeled, sealed container. NEVER ignite a fuel that you do not know is safe to
    twirl with. If you are unsure, you can obtain an Material Safety Data Sheet
    (MSDS) from your supplier to assess it's safety properties.


    a dipping space separate from the space you will be dancing in. At all times,
    keep fire away from the fuel and the dipping area. Fully submerge the wick in
    your fuel dipping container for a few seconds. Shake off as much of the excess
    fuel as possible to ensure that when you light up, you will not 'flick' ignited
    drops of fuel about your space.


    AWAY from the dipping area with a candle or a lighter. Always light from below
    the wick to avoid engulfing the lighting instrument in flames. If you are using
    a lighter, do not keep it in your pocket or on your body while you are fire
    dancing - if it were to heat up it could explode.


    wicks will naturally go out after a few minutes of dancing. Many people prefer
    to extinguish the wick either to end a dancing set or to prolong the life of
    the wick (a smoldering wick will deteriorate faster than one that is
    extinguished). If a wick is nearly exhausted, you can blow it out starting at
    the base of the wick. Otherwise, smother it in a fire blanket or damp towel.

    careful of your surroundings. If you drop your fire staff or poi, or if any
    fuel drips off your lit fire equipment, it may ignite the ground. The easiest
    way to put out small ground fires is to firmly stand on them in your shoes.

    your clothing or any other object catch alight, smother immediately with either
    a fire blanket, damp towel or anything else available to put out the fire. Do
    not pat the fire as this will only encourage the flame -- cover it and hold
    until it is extinguished. Or extinguish with a fire extinguisher if one is
    available. If nothing is available and you have caught alight, drop to the
    ground and roll to extinguish the flame.

    First Aid

    Of all the
    injuries that fire performers accumulate, burns are probably the most common.
    This article aims to teach performers how to identify the three main classes of
    heat burns and the appropriate first aid for each class.

    article is not intended to cover general fire safety nor does it cover
    chemical, electrical, or cold burns. Please do remember your basic fire safety
    rules, and also remember that if you catch on fire, STOP, DROP, and ROLL.

    First Degree Burns. A first degree burn is
    caused by brief exposure to heat. In a first degree burn, the skin is intact,
    but red and the burned area is painful. (Fig. 1) Sunburn is a type of first
    degree burn.

    Second Degree Burns. A second
    degree burn is caused by prolonged exposure to heat or very high temperatures.
    In a second degree burn, the skin may be intact or it may appear to be
    partially peeling. It may also appear moist or have a mottled appearance. Any
    burn with blisters is second degree. (Fig. 2) The burned area is very painful
    in a second-degree burn.

    Third Degree Burns. A third degree burn is the
    most serious type of burn and is caused by prolonged exposure to very high
    temperatures. In a third-degree burn, the skin is burned through its full
    thickness. The tissues underneath the skin may show through. The edges of the
    burn are frequently charred. (Fig. 3) The center of the burned area may not be
    painful because the pain receptors in the skin have been destroyed along with
    the skin.

    How do I care for a burn?

    of the class of burn, the first thing to do is to STOP THE BURNING!
    Get the heat source away from the skin and extinguish any flames. Use a wet
    towel to put out any burning toys that may be tangled and near the skin and
    work to remove any hot metal from the skin as quickly as possible. Once the
    heat source is removed, examine (but do not touch!) the burned area to assess
    the class of burn.

    Care for First degree Burns

    If you
    have identified the burn as first degree, immediately immerse or run the burned
    area under cold water. A garden hose works nicely. This forcibly lowers the
    temperature of the burned skin and stops the burn from getting any worse. Most
    first aid books say that this should last 15 minutes. I once saw a patient who
    had dutifully held a first degree burn in ice for 15 minutes and got frostbite
    from it, so don't use ice.

    After the
    skin has been cooled, do not apply lotions or salves. Leave the skin uncovered
    and dry. Most first degree burns resolve after 1-2 days. For pain while the
    burn is healing, put cold, wet cloths on the burned area and use acetaminophen
    ("Tylenol") every 4-6 hours or ibuprofen ("Motrin" or
    "Advil") every 6 hours as directed on the package.

    Care for Second degree Burns

    If the
    skin is intact (not peeling) then either immerse the burn or run the burn under
    cold water for at least 5 minutes to stop the burning. After the skin has been
    thoroughly cooled, you may apply an antibiotic ointment or cream such as
    bacitracin or a neomycin/polymixin blend ("Neosporin"). Do not try to
    burst the blisters.

    The burn
    will usually resolve with minimal to no scarring within 7-14 days, although it
    may take as long as three weeks. Once the blisters burst on their own, try to
    trim off the dead skin with fine scissors. This is painless and helps to
    prevent infection. For pain while the burn is healing, put cold, wet cloths on
    the burned area and use acetaminophen ("Tylenol") every 4-6 hours or
    ibuprofen ("Motrin" or "Advil") every 6 hours as directed
    on the package.

    If the
    skin is broken do not immerse in water as this can lead to infection. Cover the
    burn in a clean, dry dressing (gauze works nicely) and go to the nearest
    emergency room.

    Care for Third degree Burns

    removing the heat source, cover the area in a clean, dry dressing. If there is clothing
    stuck to the burn, do not try to remove it. Because victims of even relatively
    small third degree burns can go into shock suddenly, call an ambulance rather
    than taking the victim to the emergency room if at all possible. Third degree
    burns are notorious for getting infected and prompt medical treatment is
    required. Failure to receive prompt medical attention can result in gangrene,
    loss of a limb, or sepsis (infection of the blood, which is often lethal). In
    particular, a bacterium known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa tends to infect severe
    burns. This infection is very difficult to treat with antibiotics.

    When to seek immediate medical
    attention for a burn!

    If a
    blister is greater in diameter than 2 inches (4-5 cm), if a total burn is
    larger in surface area than about the size of a deck of playing cards, for any
    burn involving a break in the skin (including all first-degree burns), if the
    burn involves the face or genitals, and if the burn is an electrical or
    chemical burn (and any burn from colored flames).

    When to seek medical attention
    during normal working hours

    If a burn
    starts to look infected (red, painful, swollen, warm). However, if an area of
    redness appears around a burn and spreads over a period of several hours, go to
    an emergency room as this may signify a serious and life-threatening infection.
    Also, call your doctor if the burn does not seem to be improving after 10 days
    or you feel the burn is getting worse.


    When in
    doubt, seek medical attention for a burn. Burns are complicated medical
    injuries and may require very advanced care for severe cases.

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