Expo Artist Interview: Fire Proof!

Fire Proof in 2013 Fire Dancing ExpoWith the 8th Annual Fire Dancing Expo a mere 3 days away, we thought it might be nice to give people a sense of what inspires us to continue to do insane amounts of work to create this show each year. Here’s a few words from the Producer and Artistic Director of the Expo, GlitterGirl.

In 2012, I was overjoyed watching Jim and Antonio bring their piece to life. Like me, they are not 20-something and I find their command of their bodies super inspiring. They came together for their first performance at the Expo and I remember talking to them at the afterparty and thinking, “Wow — this really changed their lives.” I walked away that night feeling a sense of satisfaction knowing I could bring that opportunity to life. If you didn’t see their performance, we’ve included it below, though we hope you’ll join them again for a new tribute on April 27, 2013. 

At the end of last year, I approached these gentleman and asked them if they would be willing to do an interview for the Temple of Poi website. With the show a few days away, I thought, what better time than just before their second appearance in the Union Square Fire Dancing Expo to let you get to know them a little bit.

Here’s is our interview. Enjoy!


  • Jim Hendrickson (JH)
  • Antonio Gomez (AG)

Performance name

  • JH: none at the moment, though have a feeling one day it will be something with “pirate” in it as I always seem to hoop with a pirate hat one…
  • AG: I don’t have a performance name other than making up “Fire Proof” for our piece with the intention of changing it later, ha! However, my friends did christened me with “Hoop God” early on in the hooping community. Not so fitting today, with that name comes great responsibility. So just “Antonio”.

Age (if you feel comfortable) (which i hope you will since I want people who aren’t 20 inspired to spin!)

  • JH: 44
  • AG: I turned 45 this year. What! where did my life go?

How to find you on the web?

Where you’re from & where you live?

  • JH: From Northern California originally and currently living in San Rafael
  • AG: From Mexico, grew up in Riverside California but lived up & down the west coast. I’ve moved to San Francisco in 96 and i’ve been here ever since.

How long you have been hooping?

  • JH: I have been hooping for close to 4 years, while the last two have been on and off with fire
  • AG: I’ve been hooping since 2004. I was fire “de-virginized” at World Hoop Day 080808 Treasure Island, but casually started fire spinning in 2011 when i was re-introduced to it at the FireDrums Festival.

Any additional skills that informed your piece (gymnastics, acrobatics, etc)?

  • JH: No true gymnastic skills, but have always found physical sports to be more to my liking.  I played rugby for 12 years and went into hooping, so I guess I have carried some of the “rough and tumble” from that into my hooping flow…
  • AG: Nothing formal, from a little bit of wannabe break dancer in the 80’s to most currently seriously training in Capoeira & watching countless old Hollywood musicals.

What inspired you to work together?

  • JH: I have always liked Antonio’s flow with the hoop and realized our differing, yet specific styles could compliment each other.  Guess I may have asked, but also think it sort of just happened all at once and there was no point in which the thought “hold on let me think about it” came into play.
  • AG: When Jim asked me to work on a concept piece for Fire Expo, i said yes i knew we would complement each others styles and flow, but we needed a song to tie it together. Jim suggested “Feeling Good” a Nina Simon cover by Michael Bublé‘ and this is where the inspiration hit us and the rest is FireExpo history.

When you created your audition tape, did you think you would be accepted into the expo?

  • JH: After we created the audition piece, I was a bit uncertain if we would make it as I know from past shows I have witnessed, there is some amazing talent represented. With that said, I thought we had a chance as there are not too many hooping men duet pieces, thus uniqueness I thought might help us out.
  • AG: I didn’t give it too much thought. It was just an opportunity for me to work on a fire video choreography with Jim no matter if our submission was excepted or not!

How did you feel when you found out you were accepted?

  • JH: I was thrilled to be accepted into the Fire Expo and Antonio and I went straight into weekly practices.
  • AG: I knew Fire Expo sets a very high bar, and to my surprise it was the Flambe to the Creme Brulee. sorry i couldn’t resist.

Were you nervous to be creating a performance for a 3000+ person audience?

  • JH: I was not nervous initially during the build up to the Expo, but it was once we were there and the realization of what we were about to do, that the nerves did kick in…
  • AG: Sure I felt validated & excited to finally perform. I wasn’t too nervous, I knew we really had to dial in our piece and put the hours in to have a successful piece.

As I understand it, the expo performance was your first performance as “Fire Proof” and you put together the performance specifically for the expo. Can you explain to our readers what it was about this event that inspired you to make that leap and create the piece?

  • JH: Again, Antonio and I seemed to be a good match for creating something unique for the Expo.  Often when hooping at social events we had talked about doing something like this together, though at the time the thought was not necessarily a fire piece.  I can say timing played a factor in this and we were both at the right place at the right time.  We had a great piece of music and a lot of enthusiasm and creativity to go on…
  • AG: I’ve always been a big fan & support of the Fire/Spin community. I have friends who had performed in Fire Expo in previous years who had inspired me in many levels, but never thought I would someday be performing on the same stage. Simply it was an opportunity not too pass up.

What was most challenging about participating in the expo?

  • JH: There did not seem to be many challenges that I can recall.  I guess as this was my first large performance, I was worried about where to be, would I know when we were on, where to stand, etc…  logistics basically, but the way it was put together (the way you put it together), I did not have to think about these things and really just had to concentrate on what I was there to do, which made it easier…
  • AG: Fire Expo requires a level of professionalism, you really have to follow directions & meet deadlines! Patience and attention to details is required. This not a renegade event.

What were you favorite parts of participating in the expo?

  • JH: My favorite part was the performance itself.  Hearing how receptive and appreciative the audience was before, during, and after our performance was a real high.  One of those things you want to be able to “bottle” up and keep forever…
  • AG: Ha! I have many! My favorites were the process in leading up to the big night, countless hours of practicing, and of course once there the backstage pre-show antics & high energy from other performers. I wasn’t nervous until just before they announced us, then the nervous kicked in, but I kept saying to myself not to look at the 3000+ people in the audience, but to look beyond. the knowledge that the hard work was over and just to have fun. Being on the same stage with veterans and following the footsteps of many before us was a great honor. Having our family and friends in the audience cheering us on and for some to finally understand and witness our crazy passion which is fire hooping.

Would you do it again? [GG Note: this interview was done in December of 2012]

  • JH: Uh, really?  I am just waiting for the announcement for the 2013 applications.
  • AG: Yes, we are planning on it! We’re working on another piece for 2013.

What advice do you have for new artists who may be considering participating in the expo but aren’t quite certain?

  • JH: Wow, as I do not have a lot of experience performing, I would say if you have the desire or even the inclining to go for it.  You have nothing to lose and so much to gain through the experience.  Antonio and I continued to practice on occasion even before we knew if we were accepted, because we realized that we may want to do something more than the Expo.  The practice gave us a better understanding of how each of us flow in and out of the space of the hoop and I think made us better performers regardless of the Expo outcome.
  • AG: What an experience, someone gives you a stage for creating magic and you’re not sure you want to do it?
    I can’t believe anyone who spins fire would hesitate in participating in this amazing event. Fire Expo is a stage for showcasing your passion and to make a tribute to the craft.

Is there anything else you wish to share with our readers?

  • JH: Again, the opportunity to participate in the Fire Expo was an amazing experience and one I will never forget.  Though, perhaps the biggest highlight of the entire event took place at the end, greeting my two sons (7 &11) afterward and seeing the joy, excitement, and pride on their faces.  That is something I definitely will never forget…  Thank You Isa!!
  • AG: Absolutely, It was an honor to participate in Fire Expo, I was very impressed by the level of professionalism from staff to volunteers.  Much praise to the Fire Expo organizer’s hard work and a BIG BIG THANKS to you Isa!

Join Fire Proof on Facebook here and come watch them this Saturday, April 27, 2013, as they once again set the stage ablaze with their mega-phlame in the 2013 Fire Dancing Expo. 

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