In the category of art forms I’ll never be good at – or even try – top of the list would be Fire Dancing. But I love to watch it. I have friends who perform with poi balls, and another friend who travels around Hawaii taking photographs of fire dancers. Fire dancing is an ancient art that was practiced in many different parts of the world -- from Bali to Cuba to the ancient Aztecs. In recent years it's become more popular, perhaps thanks to the Burning Man festival in California. It's extremely dangerous but absolutely breathtaking.
One of the most amazing experiences of my life was witnessing the performance of a woman from Japan who traveled here to the Big Island of Hawaii because, she said, she was called by Pele, the volcano goddess. She came with her husband and baby, who decided to have a crying fit just before their performance. She patiently calmed him down, which took about an hour, while the audience waited just as patiently. (Hey, it’s Hawaii – island time.)
Finally she took the stage, and, accompanied by her husband on the guitar, unleashed the most poetic, intricate, sinuous, intimate dance, as if she was making love to her torches. She sank to the floor, backwards, spinning the torches over her belly. She tossed torches high in the air so they made spinning patterns. She attached little wire torches to each finger and did a fan dance. I’ve seen fire dancers who were more spectacular, flashier with their tricks. But for her, it was a dance first and foremost. She made it a true art form. Here are a few pictures from that evening, a little blurry but hopefully they give a taste. Everyone was spellbound, especially the kids in the audience. My little girl still talks about it. I wouldn't be at all surprised if she tries fire dancing in a few years. Me -- maybe I'll write a fire dancing heroine one of these days.
Juniper Bell's latest release is GO DEEP from Ellora's Cave. Click the cover for more.