The majority of folks we talk to don’t have a lot of experience with fire dancing. That’s great, because one of the main parts of our mission is to expose this exciting art to people who haven’t seen it before. It does make it a little difficult when they’re looking to hire us though, so we’ve included this FAQ to address some of the more common questions we’ve been getting.
Q: “What is Fire Dancing?”
A: Fire dancing is a performance art which is a form of object manipulation. It is more of a genre than a particular definable style, as there is much room for individual artistic expression. A fire dancer will use one or more props during a performance to accentuate the movements of their body and demonstrate their prowess with that prop. Common fire props include poi, staves, torches, fans, and hoops. Due to some similarities with the martial arts, it is also not uncommon to see performers use props like swords, rope dart, or nunchacku.
Performances are visually stunning, and can be difficult to describe due to their unique nature. For some examples, your best bet is to check out the pictures and videos on our website at www.theplayingmantis.com
Q: “Where do you usually perform? Who hires you?”
A: Our most common clients right now are private individuals, businesses, and event planners. As such, we have experience working in a variety of venues and settings and can tailor our shows to match. We are usually positioned outside a venue, as any structure we’re going to be performing inside needs to meet national safety standards. That generally requires something the size of a large warehouse or concert hall, so for the majority of our gigs we set up near the entrance to a business or a designated spot at a private party.
Our individual clients tend to be people who are having an event and want to add a really unique, memorable flair. This can be anything from a company picnic to a backyard BBQ or luau. Event planners tend to use us in a similar way, bringing us into a party or promotion they’re planning to create to enhance the experience or support the theme. The fact that our performances are custom-tailored to the event works out really well for these clients, as we are able to fit easily into whatever kind of event thy already have planned.
The businesses who hire us generally do so for several reasons. If you’re looking to hold a special event, promotion, or sale then advertising fire dancers can help increase your turnout. People tend to have a really good time at our shows, and people having a good time at your business is a good thing. The area where we’re really starting to see some good results is after our shows. It’s well known that the most effective advertising you can get is word-of-mouth. Our performances really support that aspect of your event, because it’s the kind of thing people can’t help but talk about.
Q: “Is it safe?”
A: Fire dancing does carry certain inherent risks, which is part of what makes the show so exciting for audiences. In reality, we do an excellent job of minimizing these risks and our shows are tightly controlled. Our performers are all trained to meet tight safety standards, and we meet all applicable codes at both a local and national level. We haven’t had an accident yet but, just in case, all of our performers are fully insured. We bring copies of all of this safety documentation to us at every gig so you don’t have to worry about us and can relax and enjoy the show.
Q: “What is a performance usually like?”
A: This is one of the most difficult questions to answer, since we strive to offer as much customization as possible. That said, we can break our performances down into a couple of different types and explain them that way. An individual performance (where a performer lights a prop and wields it until the fuel has run out) is referred to as a “burn” and usually lasts from 2-5 minutes. How many burns comprise the overall performance varies based on the type of performance.
Our most common performance is what is known as a “circle show,” which has its roots in street performance. In this format performers take turns using various props with a very loose general structure. This is generally a more relaxed, informal style perfectly suited to private parties or events. When we’re stationed outside the entrance of a business for a few hours this is also the type of show we’ll generally do. Things to think about with this format are that it allows you to have the performance happen for a much longer time and expose more people to it in a situation where the fire performance is not necessarily the main event. If people are waiting for a seat at your restaurant, waiting in line at your VIP party, or you’re looking to fill space between other performances then this is a great style. This style can also be expanded and enhanced by bringing in more performers. This adds a lot more variety, allows us to have more performers lit at once, and minimizes the number of breaks we need to take.
We also do individual performances and shows. Want a specific block of time filled? Need a grand finale to an existing show? We can handle that. These performances tend to be more structured than our circle shows, and may involve custom choreography, costuming, and music. If you already have a picture in your mind of what you’d like your fire performance to be like, then this is the format for you. Let’s get it out of your imagination and make it happen!
Q: “What does it cost?”
A: OK, so usually this is the first or second question people ask us, rather than one of the last. Unfortunately, we need to go over all of the other specifics before we can provide a meaningful quote. The main factors in pricing a performance are the number of performers, amount of time/number of burns, and level of customization requested in terms of music, costuming, and choreography. We DO have a standard pricing guide, so we can get you that number quickly, easily, and explain how we got there. Naturally there’s no obligation to any informational request, so don’t be shy!
Q: “OK, I really want to have you guys at my event but I don’t know what the venue owners are going to say or what kind of permits we’re going to need.”
A: Not a problem. We have lots of experience working with different fire marshals and taking care of obtaining any necessary permits. This prevents miscommunication and allows us to make sure that your performance abides by all of the local ordinances and codes. We also like to talk to venue owners prior to an event so that we can explain the details of the performance, give them copies of our insurance, and show them that we are a safety-oriented, professional organization. We’ll answer their questions directly, and make sure that our visit is pleasant and memorable for you, your audience, and your hosts.
Have more questions which aren’t covered here? Feel free to call us anytime, or use our booking page to send your question directly.