Fire Conclave

Burning Man’s fire activity is ceremony that expands to encompass the spirit as well as the body and mind. The gathering of people, dancing and drumming around a fire, goes back to the beginning of Burning Man and beyond. It is the first basic form of dance that leads to community. By summoning the power of the flame to flow through us, it strengthens and transforms our spirit.

Opening Fire Ceremony

Monday at the Start of the Event

~

Procession of the Ceremonial Flame

Release the Man

Saturday at the End of the Event

Opening Fire Ceremony & The One Flame ~ Utilizing the sun and a spiral mirror Crimson Rose extracts a flame from the sun and a fire is lit in the Center Camp Cauldron. For the flame to continue burning it must be stoked, disturbed and kept alive throughout the entire week. We encourage all those that encounter this special Cauldron to help keep this flame alive.

Procession Of The Ceremonial Flame ~ On Saturday night the fire that we extract from the sun, drum and dance around, that has been burning all week long will be transferred to a special lantern, the Luminferous. The Procession of the Ceremonial Flame in great fanfare will process to the Great Circle where the Fire Conclave in its full force will utilize that same fire for dances dedicated to the Man before he is brought to life in pyrotechnic delight.

What Is the Fire Conclave?

The Fire Conclave is a select group of people who work significant hours before arriving in Black Rock City who choreograph fire performances dedicated to honoring the Man. Their performances create a temporary community creating fire art as a gift in service to the Man. Under the night sky before the release of the Man in pyrotechnic delight, the largest convergence of fire performers gather at one time. More fire energy is expressed and let loose than anywhere else in the world.

Fire Art Performances at Burning Man ~ Then and Now

Crimson Rose, Fire Goddess, established the Fire Conclave in 1991 when she first danced her fire magick at the foot of the Man and set him ablaze. As the years progressed and the art form flourished, the few fire performers has turned into hundreds and by 2000, a loose system was established to dance at the foot of the Man. Initially, the pre-show fire dancing before the burning of The Man was a necessity, used to distract the masses of the city while the Pyrotechnic specialists handled last minute issues associated with burning The Man.

What was once a specialty dance created by a few has spread like wild fire. Fire dance has grown and matured into a full-blown art form, where the art is as varied as the imagination of those that dance with the flame. In 2005 a clarification of standards for participation within the Fire Conclave was fine-tuned. To equalize the opportunity for new and established artists in the ever-evolving Fire Arts and in the face of limited space, time and numerous safety concerns in Black Rock City, an effort to cultivate a higher level of skill and performance artistry has become the mandate of the Fire Conclave.

Each year a growing number of inquiries and requests from performers to participate in the tribute to the Man arise. The most challenging responsibilities with organizing the Fire Conclave is to ensure that hundreds of fire performers participating the night of the burn are not only compelling to watch, but effectively managed and safe within the perimeter that surrounds the Man called the Great Circle.

To better manage the energy within the Great Circle it is necessary to encourage the organization of performers & safety personnel into groups as opposed to solos, duet, trios or quartets. This places the responsibility squarely in the lap of each different group. For that reason, to be accepted into the Fire Conclave, each fire performer must be part of a group. And the “fire dance” that the group creates must incorporate choreography.

Any person or group can come together and “Fire Jam”. But it takes a lot of work and thought to create a fire dance with intention. Choreograph; to plan out and coordinate movement that dancers are to make to a piece of music and that uses a diverse range of styles and techniques with intention. “Fire Dance” does not mean only one kind of movement or the use of only one kind of tool. This genre of dance is as diverse and wide ranging as the imagination of the dancer that utilizes fire as their medium. It is human nature to evolve and the drive to move fire dance to the next evolutionary leap is no exception. Fire performers of today and tomorrow are meeting the challenge and embracing it hold heartedly. The drive to excel fire dance is a continued push for evolution.

Deadline for Each Year

All fire performers, whether with a group or not are encourage to subscribe to the Fire Conclave announce list. Contact Crimson Rose at crimson@burningman.com and simply answer the following questions:

Tell us something about yourself, what attracted you to fire, how long have you been playing with fire, what kind of tool(s) do you utilize, where you live, how many years attending Burning Man and if you play with a fire group? And anything else you want to express about yourself.

MARCH 1 ~ deadline for communicating intention to participation with the current years Fire Conclave.

Main Players Within the Fire Conclave

Each fire group must be comprised of the following positions.

  • SHIN ~ LEADER OF THE GROUP
  • FIRE PERFORMER
  • FIRE WATCH ~ FIRE SAFETY PERSONEL
  • HELMSMEN ~ STAGE MANAGER
  • DRUMMERS ~MUSIC
  • SHIN ~ LEADER OF THE GROUP

For every group, there is one person that is the leader and contact with that group, called a SHIN (Hebrew letter ש that represents fire in Kabbalah). They manage and organize a fire group, set rehearsals, make note of who shows up and who is accountable. The Shin runs their group the way it works for them within their region of the country. Each group displays its own energy, style and level of commitment. Creating its unique, unwritten code of ethics and varied style of expression of fire. To hold this position, a person must demonstrate the following skills:

Communication

  • Must possess excellent communication skills.
  • Disseminate information to members of the group.
  • Use email effectively.

Manage and Organize

  • Have the ability to rally a group of free-spirited individuals.
  • Be patient and lead with a firm but flexible hand.
  • Willing to vouch and be responsible for the actions of all members of the group.
  • Have an understanding of fire safety protocols.

Honor Procedures

  • Adhere to all deadlines related to paperwork, communication, etc.
  • Submit the group roster, choreograph, audition media and other necessary information to gain membership to the Fire Conclave.
  • Understand the importance of the limited and necessary rules each Fire Conclave member must adhere to and honor sobriety while performing.

Understanding

  • Recognize that acceptance into the Fire Conclave and dancing at the foot of the Man is an honor to receive and a gift to be given.

Performers

  • Create to the best of their ability and beyond, giving 100%.
  • Performers are part of a group that works directly with their Shin.
  • Performers are required to honor sobriety while playing with fire.

Fire Watch / Fire Safety Personnel

  • This position goes by many names, but simple they watch the fire, making sure that the fire stays on a tool, or where it should be. If performers accidentally light them selves on fire, Fire Watch are there ready to put it out quickly.
  • Safety personnel are required to honor sobriety while being a Fire Watch.

Helmsmen / Radio Head

  • Radio communications in the Great Circle before, during and after the fire performance is critical. They will receive cues when to start and stop the performance.
  • They must have a critical eye to observing everything that happens with, around and outside of the performers area.
  • Helmsmen are required to honor sobriety while performing their duties at the Burn.

Drummers / Music

  • There are two different groups of drummers, those that are connected to an established group and those that are part of the Ambient groups.
  • Each fire group is encouraged to have their own drummers, it helps the dance.
  • For the groups that do not have access to any, there is a pool of “Ambient Drummers”. These are collected from all the drummers that do not belong to an established group. They will be positioned around the Great Circle where there are no drummers.
  • Drummers are required to honor sobriety while performing their duties at the Burn.

For those that are interested in drumming for the Fire Conclave and do not belong to an established drumming group, please check out the Drummers Collective.

Fire Conclave Membership

As of this update the Fire Conclave has grown to 1,200 members that come from all walks of life. Whether from a small town or big city, the passion, love and respect of the flame is alive in their heart. For a full list of each year’s membership, please read the Fire Conclave Afterburn Report.

Fire Conclave Membership has come from many diverse regions: Arizona, California (LA, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Bay Area, Davis, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Bodega Bay, Hollywood, Humboldt, Mendocino, Sacramento, Ukiah), Colorado (Steamboat Springs, Grand Junction, Boulder, Denver), Hawaii (Big Island, O’ahu, Maui), Idaho (Sandpoint), Illinois (Chicago), Massachusetts  (Boston), Minnesota (Minneapolis), Nevada (Las Vegas, Reno), New York (New Jersey, Manhattan), North Carolina, Oregon (Ashland, Eugene, Portland, Salem), Texas (Austin), Utah (Salt Lake City), Washington DC area (Baltimore, Philadelphia), Washington State (Seattle), Wisconsin.

Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, Canada, France, Singapore, Serbia, India, Ukraine, Mexico, Austria, Indonesia, Japan, Ireland, Cambodia, Argentina.