More and more people are learning to fire dance. What was once a specialty art form practiced by a few is becoming more commonplace. Most people discover as they start learning to “spin fire” that it is hard work. To become prolific at this art, one must practice until the moves become second nature. Even after the performers have perfected their art, they need to keep themselves active in creating new moves, working with new tools, and taking steps forward to advance the evolution of this art form.
For that reason, the fire dances that happen inside the Great Circle at Burning Man must display a diverse range of styles and techniques. Dances with intention make the best contributions, something with meaning versus random movement, that which honors the Man.
Every group that wanted to perform with Fire Conclave at Burning Man 2005 needed to do three things: Communicate intent, create choreography, and submit media.
Communicate Intent – This simple requirement was fulfilled by communicating the intention to perform and to meet deadlines and responsibilities.
Submit Media – Demonstration of the group’s skills could take any form of media, commonly video, DVD, or web address.
Create Choreography – The most important part of any group’s contribution is the carefully planned dance movements they plan to perform.
The big change in direction for the Fire Conclave is choreographed dances, the opposite of an unstructured fire jam. The Fire Conclave finds nothing wrong with free-form fire jams, but to step within the boundary of the Great Circle, a performer needs to plan more than just “throwing a bunch of fire around.” Because of the diverse achievement levels of the membership of the Fire Conclave, some were already familiar with creating choreographed dances. While others were not used to thinking in this direction, the requirement provided a beneficial stretch of their creative minds.
Choreography, the art of composing dances and the movement and patterns of a dance composition, implies that forethought helps to structure physical movements. A group must work together with a common goal in mind, the dance may incorporate solo opportunities, but the ego of the group as a whole is more important than the separate egos of a few. Working with a stable group of people demands continued dedication and sacrifice. Depending upon the people involved, this expectation either helps them to work well or induces them to fall apart. For some, the requirement for choreographed performance was just another hurdle to jump over in the continuing exploration of the Fire Conclave and the search for excellence. For the different groups that stepped up to the challenge, this process worked, and they all excelled.
Some others are not interested in being part of a group. They want to jam and show off their own egos. This direction toward planned performance only irritates and offends their creative spirits. The challenge is for them is to let go of their ego and become part of a greater whole.
Leap of Faith
The Fire Conclave’s membership grew again in 2005 to 870 performers and safety personnel spread over 32 different groups. This gathering indeed was the largest number of people fire dancing together anywhere in the world, not just in Black Rock City. And the large numbers did have their price. Individuals had less room to move around. The performance schedule attempted to accommodate this reality by staggering group appearances in the hopes that performers could then spread out over the available space. But alas this hope was not fulfilled. Patches of darkness were seen around the Great Circle. For 2006, the number of groups will be lowered to 25, leaving more room for each to dance.
Friday Night Social – Every Shin (leader of a Fire Conclave group) had to know who within that group had checked in to perform. Consultation with Shins proved helpful for planners, and each knew how many laminates they would receive the next day.
Drummers/Ambient style – Pulling together drummers who would not normally know each other worked really well. For the existing groups that did not have drummers among their ranks, this improvement helped them to have a beat for their dance.
Fire Conclave Membership 2005
The Fire Conclave’s 870 members come from all walks of life. From small towns or big cities, all share the passion, love, and respect of the flame. Membership is comprised of Shins (group leaders), Fire Watch, Drummers, and Helmsmen (radio operators).
- Primal Fire – Victoria, B.C.
- Radiant Heat – Vancouver, B.C.
- Soltribe – Phoenix
- Bom Tribe – San Francisco
- Cosmogenia – San Francisco Bay area plus
- Drummers Collective – San Francisco Bay area plus
- Fire Arts Collective – San Francisco Bay area
- Fire Conclave Jugglers – Sacramento & beyond
- Future Tribe – San Francisco Bay area
- Garnish – Los Angeles area
- Infinite Kaos – San Francisco
- Los Angeles Fire Conclave – Los Angeles area
- LSD Fuego – San Francisco Bay area
- One Peoples Voice – San Francisco Bay area
- Pois In The Hood – Los Angeles area
- San Francisco Fire Conclave – San Francisco
- Santa Cruz Fire Conclave – Santa Cruz
- South Bay Fire Monkeys – San Francisco Bay area, South Bay
- Temple of Poi – San Francisco
- Colorado Fire Conclave – West Ridge & East Ridge
- Controlled Burn – Reno
- Liquid Flame
- Alchemists – Salem
- Oregon Fire Conclave – Portland
- Incendiary Circus – Salt Lake City
Washington DC / Baltimore
- Playa Del Fuego
- Helmsmen – Seattle
- Kaos Kids – Seattle
- Northwest Fire Conclave – Seattle & Washington State area
- Pyrosutra – Seattle
- Burning Snow – Milwaukee
World Fire Groups
Pyronauts – Comprised of many different groups from all over the world: Apsara (S.F. Bay area), Cabari (Santa Clara, CA), Copper Lantern (S.F. Bay area), Dizzy Hips (Seattle, WA), El Circo (S.F. Bay area), Eternal Collective (Santa Barbara, CA), FirePixie (S.F. Bay area), Gilded Ruckus (Berkeley, CA), Holistic Hooping (Eugene, OR & Bodega, CA), Indra Yoga & Dance (Los Angeles, CA), Liquid Fire Mantra (Ashland, OR), Phoenix Rising (S.F. Bay area), Santa Rosa Fire (Santa Rosa, CA), Shredder Hoops (Humboldt and Mendocino, CA), S.F. Circus Center, Spunn (Chicago, IL), The Mutaytor (Los Angeles, CA), Wildfire (Chicago, IL); plus other members from California (Bodega, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Ukiah, Willits), Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, and Seattle, Czech Republic, Germany, Montreal and Vancouver in Canada, Paris and Corsica in France, and Singapore.