POI: Fire Spinning

Impromptu & Programmed Venues
NYC, Colorado & Europe, 1998-2002

***above photo by Kirk Peterkin

SUMMARY:Firing Spinning, impromptu and programmed, as part of larger performance and as a stand alone complementary element. I was first exposed to and taught the basic moves of the fire poi in the summer of 1998 by Rami Katzav, later learning how to build and care for these creative and meditative tools. For the next three years, I continued experimenting, often on the rooftop of my then home on Pitt Street in the LES, first with basic synchronized movement then with asymmetrical patterns and broader sweeping movements of the body, creating an expressive choreography more than a formulaic routine. I performed during various events and gatherings, including on a 13 city tour with Sky Plots and at Burning Man in 2001. The Destruction Band set often featured a performance of “Pilot out of Hell” where I simulated blazing copter blades while lying on the ground, rising into full throttle escape. A most memorable performance for a most modest audience was with Miss Deborah Yoon at 10,000 feet in Summit County Colorado. We offered a fire dance to Buddhist Monks who’d just created a massive sand mandala and performed traditional throat singing rites. The flames at altitude burned for what seemed hours. The heighted streaks of the fire wheels I only learned latter, expressed the “fire banded mantra wheels” of specific practices and the monks sat in rapt appreciative attention. It felt as if we’d achieved the true purpose of the dance. About that time, while living in Colorado, I began studying Tai Chi and eventually, in California, the Alexander Technique. Though I believe both these studies would greatly enhance my fire dance, I have not resumed moving amid the orange streaks of the fire poi. I am amazed, however, by some of the skill and fusion with various dance forms that have emerged over the past decade.