It’s beautiful and mysterious; it’s dangerous and ritualistic. The light of the dancer’s flame is far more than heat and combustion. And the way the dancer’s body moves inside and behind the flames is like in no other performance. More than anything, this art is trance-inducing—for both the audience and the artist.
“The patterns [of dance] put us in a mesmerized state, and if an audience member is close enough to also hear the accompanying whoosh of the fire as it passes by, they will know that fire and dancer make their own rhythmic song—one that can pull us further into the trance state,” says Lorin Hansen, Artistic Director of Samba Fogo, a local performing arts group specializing in Samba, Capoeira, and Fire.
There is a strong fire dancing community in Salt Lake City, which is largely associated with locals whom attend the annual Burning Man festival. However, Samba Fogo (whose dancers are pictured in this post) is an organization with staying power and that performs regularly.
“Fire dancing is like solving mathematical equations—like geometry. It’s about the planes in which the body moves acting in perfect harmony with the movement of the prop—perfect because if the body is not in just the right position when the torch is passing by, it will get whacked,” Hansen continues. “The challenge is to figure out the possible planes of movement of the prop while the body is still, then—expanding on that idea—explore the possibilities for dance and body movement behind, in front of, and within the prop.”
The apparatus pictured here are fire fingers. Other implements of fire arts which Samba Fogo uses are fire bowls and double staff, while still more common props include fire poi (fire chains), single staff and hula-hoop. All of the dancers pictured (Dawn Levingston, Christina Kilbane and Ai Fujii-Nelson) are State Licensed Flame Effects Artisans — what a title!
For more information about Samba Fogo, visit SambaFogo.com.
*Shots taken on New Year’s Eve at EVE SLC
Photographer and award-winning journalist Austen Diamond specializes in creative portraiture, commercial photography and editorial photojournalism. For booking inquiries and to view his portfolio, go to www.AustenDiamond.com.