Call for Artists: 2014 Union Square Fire Dancing Expo

Posted on December 16, 2013 by


2014 Fire Dancing Expo

2013 Expo Cast
Photo: Teeje Jamison

Jump Links:

Travel Stipends
How to Apply
What email Address to use
What to Submit
Video Audition
Application Categories
Stage Time
Call Time
Spin Off
Prohibited Tools/Acts
Costume Requirements
Fire on the Stage
Selection Criteria
Performer only Photo shoot
Getting Videos and Photos after the show
Marketing Materials
Badge Information
Cue Card Information
Safety Information
Music for the Show
Lighting Cue
Union Square Information

Additional information is also in the Expo FAQ. To see past shows, go to and you’ll see the playlists of the shows from 2007-2013 there. 2005 and 2006 are unavailable on line though you can get 2006 Expo via Amazon on DVD (standard def with 5 camera angles).


Temple of Poi is pleased to produce the 9th annual Fire Dancing Expo in San Francisco, California, USAs Union Square on the main stage. This event is free to the public and is open to audiences of all ages. Past events had an estimated 3500+ people in attendance. This years show, co-produced by Union Square Live, is tentatively set for April 26, 2014, seating at 7:15 pm, show starts at 8 pm. Call time for artists is 6:15 pm for tool and costume check with the fire marshal.

The purpose of this show is multifold:

  • to expand awareness of the art form
  • so that fire dancing artists can be taken seriously in the world through performance on credible stages in gorgeous venues rather than be looked at as fringe or parking lot art
  • to share our art with the community and world
  • to celebrate Bay Area Dance Week
  • to offer artists from around the world an opportunity to perform for a very grateful and more attuned than average audience
  • to allow artists the opportunity to be on a top notch stage which is huge (70ft wide by 30 feet deep), elevated and inspiring
  • a gift to the community
  • as a spiritual practice of giving from a place of non attachment to results

In order to maintain the integrity of the vision of the show, we do not pay any performers. Period. No exceptions. MCP, Icon, Yuta, Banyan, Dai, Manda Lights, Thomas, Alien Jon, Vatra and all the rest of the artists who have graced our stage have not gotten paid with cash though the artists have added a rich quantity of quality photos to their portfolio as part of their compensation. They have gifted themselves and their art to the show and community.

We do this as a gift to the community. And every artist who gets up on the stage does it as a gift to the community as well.

All of that said, assuming we get funded as we have in year’s past via Kickstarter, we will have a limited number of travel stipends for artists. Last year, because of the amazing backers who assisted us funding the Expo we had $2500 in travel stipends to help offset some of the outrageous costs of traveling to the show for out of town artists traveling 750 miles or more. We hope to repeat (if not increase) that again for the 2014 show. All travel stipends will be given out at the show in cash after your fire marshal and check in with GlitterGirl showing them you meet the guidelines herein.

How to Apply

Interested applicants must submit their completed application by noon pacific time, January 18, 2014 in order to be considered. All applications we receive will get a response confirming the application was complete or rejecting the application if it was incomplete, explaining what’s missing. Rejected applications may be fixed and resubmitted. Please note, the links to external forms did not load on my phone so you may need to fill in these forms from a desktop. Also, there have been some reports of Chrome not loading the forms. The link below is a link to a google form. try a different browser or reloading the page if it doesn’t work. 🙂 

  • All applicants (each artist in every group) must complete this form for all acts (solo or group) for which they are applying.  Please note, this application includes a video URL of the concept of your piece. This is required.
  • All artist (in each group) must also submit a photo of the signed forms linked below. Artists only need to submit these forms once, regardless of how many acts for which they are applying. Artist who fail to submit these forms will be rejected and if you are applying with a group, the group will be rejected as well.
  • Please note this information is aggregated and distributed to multiple organizations in different ways. To give you a sense of the work we do to support this event, we’ve included this photo of the SF Fire Department Permit Application for 2010 when we only had 65 artists. 2013 had almost 100 artists so this paperwork is thicker now. The coin in this photo is a dollar coin, so slightly larger than a US Quarter. Temple of Poi Fire Dancing Expo Application Information
  • Please print, sign, scan OR photograph the forms below in a well lit place and send the images so the prints will print out full size (8.5×11)). Even if you know of other email addresses for GlitterGirl or Temple of Poi, please email these forms to this email address only as other people access this information through this account  — GlitterGirlPoiPriestess <at> gmail <daught> com with your performance name on the subject line
    • A signed agreement sheet for each person in the group to be included in the fire permit application. This form includes a video URL and these videos must have you spinning fire for the permit and is required by the San Francisco fire department.
    • a signed video release form for each person performing as part of your group
    • Please sign and email both forms back in a single email for the artist.
    • Please note, if one artist in a group has not submitted these forms, the group application will be considered incomplete/rejected until these forms are submitted.

What Email Address to use: Please address all email correspondence related to the expo to: GlitterGirlPoiPriestess <at> gmail <daught> com and be sure to put your performance name on the subject line. 

Application Categories and Information

Note: there is additional material about the audition videos in the Expo FAQ — please read that before submitting. 

  • Video Audition: Video’s should be submitted through a specific URL or series of URL’s that are listed in the application form when you apply. Please note, these URL’s are for auditioning purposes and may or may not be the URL you use for the Fire Department form. Videos should be on YouTube or Vimeo and we should not be required to download the video to view it. Private videos are fine and we will not publish the URLs. Video submissions are designed to assist us in understanding what the piece is or will be, what level of skill artists are at, and how the diversity of the show will be created by looking at all submissions from a holistic perspective, not just the perspective of the individual acts. The show is intended to show a variety of levels of skill so that the new can be appreciated and the masterful can be better understood.
    • All artists will need to submit an audition video as part of their application. Videos can be comprised of any of the these three categories which you will need to indicate in your application. If your work is in progress and/or the video does not fully explain the piece, for some reason, you can add more details text describing the piece in the  Additional Audition Information Section of the application form.
  • Application Categories
    • Actual work: This applies to groups and soloists. The Actual Work category would be a video of a piece that is already completed and performed in full on a video. The video should be in a single take and unedited to get a true sense of what the piece will look like on stage rather than an artistic video rendition. The camera position should be from downstage center so as to assess all pieces from the same camera angle. Artists submitting an actual work video will not need to submit video #2 in March. Audition videos may include tosses or other ground scores though these things are not allowed in the final performance so please indicate what you will do to substitute for any of these things in the video in the additional information section of the application form and also indicate if you anticipate you will update the piece.
    • Work in Progress, existing act: those auditioning in this category will submit a video meeting the Actual Work criteria of a past performance for your existing act so we can understand what you consider a completed work. In addition, groups (2 or more) will need to submit a concept video with a written description and explanation of what will happen at the various time codes in the video if the video itself is not clear. The concept video can be very rough though the rougher the video, the more extensive the email explanation will need to be. Solo artists doing a work in progress that already have an existing act will not need to submit a concept video. Therefore, groups will need two videos — one of a completed actual work, and one of a concept video — and soloists will need one one video of a completed actual work. Both solotists and groups will need to submit a description of the concept you have in mind. Please explain what will be choreographed and what will be free style, if anything. Please also indicate if you want feedback from the selection panel or you prefer not to receive feedback. We intend the feedback to help you create a show that works on this stage with this size crowd and the limitations that come with that as related to your act relative to the whole show.
    • Work in Progress, new acts: those auditioning in this category will submit a video of each artist in the group spinning the tool that will be used in the show as well as a concept video with a written description and explanation of what will happen at the various time codes in the video. The concept video can be very rough though the rougher the video, the more extensive the explanation will need to be. Therefore, groups will need one solo video per artist (60 seconds is fine) and a group concept video. Soloists will need to submit a solo video. Both soloists and groups will need to submit an extensive description of the concept you have in mind in the application. Please explain what will be choreographed and what will be free style, if anything. Please also indicate if you want feedback from the selection panel or you prefer not to receive feedback. We intend the feedback to help you create a show that works on this stage with this size crowd and the limitations that come with that.
  • Additional Videos
    • Artists submitting the Work in Progress category will need to submit a second video, listed in the deadline table as Video #2 Due, showing the progress of your piece by March 1, 2014, noon pacific. This means artists in the Work in Progress category must meet a total of three video deadlines while artists in the Actual Work category must meet a total of two deadlines between now and April 14, 2014.
    • All artists who are accepted into the show will need to submit a newly recorded video of the piece as it (4 months away and it is likely that the piece will be better by then) this spring so we can create the best flow in the show order. We need this video by noon pacific time on April 14, 2014 and this video is listed in the deadlines table below as the Final Video Due line item. The video doesn’t have to be high def or something you would put publicly on YouTube. We do, however, need to see where you’re at and want said video to be a dress rehearsal of your performance including the entrance onto the stage, starting of edited music, execution of set, end of piece and exit from stage. This will allow us to get an understanding of the full duration of the piece including intro and exit. You should be in full costume using all props exactly as you would on stage. This means that while an audition video might have a toss in it, this version would not since tosses are not allowed (fire department limitation, not us).

  • Stage Time:This year’s show is planned to have about 40 acts and must be completed shortly after 10 pm to accommodate our sound permit limitations. Stage time per act includes
    1. opening intro and applause for the act
    2. getting on the stage
    3. performance set to music
    4. applause and thank you announcement for the act
    5. getting off the stage

When entering your request for time, please be aware of the following:

    • Maximum set time for soloists is 3:00.
    • Maximum set time for a group is 4:30 minutes.
    • Average set time is 2:00.
    • For the purposes of the application,  your set time should be part 3 in the section listed above. We build in buffer times for parts 1, 2, 4 & 5 into the show so you need not worry about that in the application.

Restrictions & Agreements

  • Call time: For tool and costume inspection will be 6:15 PM on the night of the show, in Union Square near the elevators. You must be there with your tools in working order with your fire safe costume in hand or on your body by that time. Artists who fail to get their tools checked in time and/or whose costumes are constructed from synthetic clothing will result in their expulsion from the event (and, where applicable, your travel stipend given to someone else).

  • No tosses! Tosses have not been allowed since 2009 and will not be allowed in 2014 — there was a $300 fine per toss implemented in 2009, so create your act without tosses. This is a restriction imposed by the San Francisco Fire Department, not by Temple of Poi.

  • Spin off: Artists agree to spin off their tools before taking the stage. We retain our regular dry wall spin off for 2014. Tossing of staves (fireballs) and/or leaving trails on the stage to spin off is prohibited!

  • This is a white gas only show! Because the stage is very slick stone already, we do not allow the use of lamp oil since it does not evaporate and creates a safety danger for performance acts following your group. Therefore, artists must have prior experience spinning with white gas only. International artists, please make arrangements to try white gas here in the states prior to the show. Contact GlitterGirl for assistance if needed.

  • Prohibited tools/acts: Fire spitting, fire works, propane tanks (or any fuel under pressure), steel wool or anything else that will leave residue on the stage are all prohibited for fire permit reasons. Fire is also not allowed directly on the stage for more than 3 seconds. Therefore, if you have special tool needs, you will need to inform out safety team prior to the event meeting the Safety Team deadline.

  • Costume requirements: No synthetics, no exceptions. For permit and safety reasons, all artists must wear natural fiber. This is a very important point since the longevity of this event is on the line with the San Francisco Fire Department. Also, I do not care who you are, what country you came from, and what skills you have: if you show up for your tool check and performance with a non natural fiber costume, I will not let you perform so as to not risk the show being banned by the fire department in future years (a threat they have made). This is not negotiable. If you are wearing synthetics on the day of the show, it will result in your expulsion from the event (and, where applicable, your travel stipend given to someone else). If you have any questions about your costume and materials used for it, please consult with GlitterGirl well in advance. 

  • Rules: Follow them. Really. I did not make up all these rules (many of which are annoying by my own standards!) simply because I want to be an annoying event organizer. These rules are in place because this show is legally permitted and I’m coordinating with and juggling the requirements of multiple organizations.

  • Exceptions: There are none. Really. International acts: please make sure you have worked with white gas — it burns hotter and brighter than some fuels out there and this was an issue for some artists some years ago. Please do not think that because you’re traveling thousands of miles the rules changed. We use white gas because it burns cleaner, smells less, and most importantly, when we tried to use lamp oil in the past, it created a safety hazard on the already-slick made-of-stone stage where excess fuel splattered during the performances. Falling artists == bad.

  • Extinguishing: Artists must have prior experience extinguishing burning tools.

  • Compensation: In order to maintain the integrity of the vision of the show, we do not pay any performers in cash. Period. No exceptions. MCP, Icon, Yuta, Banyan, Dai, Manda Lights, Thomas, Alien Jon, Vatra, Burning Dan and all the rest of the artists who have graced our stage have not gotten paid. They have gifted themselves and their art to the show and community. In keeping with the tradition of this not-for-profit show comprised of artists doing it because of their love of sharing their art, there will be no monetary compensation. However, all performers in the show will get to participate in a performers only photo shoot and will gain access to photos and videos made available to the public after the event. While there is no fiscal compensation for the show, the addition to the portfolio is, in many cases, worth over a thousand dollars.
  • Backstage: Please do not invite your friends, family, fans and guests back stage. It is chaotic and small back there. We have security people that will be ruthless and will tell your grandma to leave so don’t invite her. Please, also, do not stand on the potted plants or in the dirt nearby — Union Square gets very upset about this. That said, if your act requires support staff, you will need to get that information to GlitterGirl in advance of the show as part of the Badge Information Deadline.

  • Fire on the stage: If your act uses more than one tool and one will be burning for a period of time after you are done using it, please contact our stage manager and fire safety team in advance of the show to make arrangements to move the tool off stage when you are done with it. While fire can touch the stage, burning tools may not be left on the stage to meet the San Francisco Fire Department requirements.

  • Props: If you have any additional props as part of your act (i.e., something to hold your fire tools or a chair and table) please include this information in your application and also provide this information to the fire safety team.

  • Cauldrons and Tool Lighting for the show: there will be 4 cauldrons on the stage — three downstage (one left, one center, one right) and one upstage center. For your convenience, we have a map where you can view the layout of the stage as well as other Union Square information.

Selection Criteria

We intend the expo to showcase the uniqueness and variety of fire dancing performance arts in the industry. In an effort to produce a diverse, entertaining and impressive show, acts are selected using the following criteria in 2014. Note, selection will be done by a panel of artists.

  • Unusual acts will get special consideration. Things that might make an act unusual are:
    • unique props
    • age (under 10 and over 50)
    • visually stunning acts (incredibly precise, extraordinary costumes)
    • unusual stories or concepts that are engaging and fun and not yet seen
  • Priority will be given to quality artists with a quality demo video on fire who hail from a location more than 300 miles from San Francisco. After all, they are coming to donate their time, energy and brilliance to a Bay Area fire show!
  • All things being equal, artists who have not appeared in the show before will be given priority over artists who have appeared in the show in the past. It is rare that “all things are equal.”
  • A quality video, which we view, for the purposes of this audition, as:
    • described in the video audition section of this document
    • Existing work videos and final video submissions should meet the following criteria. The closer your concept video is to this criteria, the more seriously we will consider your application:
      • on fire (required for an existing work or your final video submission)
      • in costume (if we want to be respected artists, let’s dress the part!) – need ideas? here’s 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Creating a Fabulous Fire Costume to help you out.
      • with good lighting where the artist(s) can be seen — if we can’t see you, we don’t know how awesome you really are!
      • with the fire and the artist in frame
      • with no obvious show stopping mistakes (i.e., tangles that stop the flow are no good but a slick recovery from an unexpected hyperloop gone wrong is okay)
      • the artist is not setting themselves on fire (intentional transfers are fine)
    • auditions should include a solid opening, middle and end to the performance
    • ideally showcasing fire dancing, not just tech spinning with the combined showcasing of tech fire dancing given highest priority
  • when choosing acts, innovative group choreography will be selected over solo spots
  • we are looking to balance the gender of the show so it is neither disproportionately filled with male or female performers
  • similarly, we are looking to balance the tools being used to perform — 2010 was a disproportionately high percentage of fan acts and 2011 it was poi, so please bring your unique tools.
  • while we want a high quality show featuring some performing legends from around the globe, we also want to showcase the diversity of this art form and will have a amateur spots available specifically for newer artists — these artists will still need to meet the application requirements, even if they are amateurs
  • diversity and innovation of performance and dance expression with the tools being showcased
  • since this show celebrates Bay Area Dance Week, performances which show off dance will be given higher priority than mostly tech performances
  • in an effort to encourage both the young and aged (like a fine wine!) to apply, we want to have one spot each for “Under 20” and one “50 and over” set aside which are different than the amateur spots.
  • artists applying to be in more than one act: please be aware preference is given to having as many different artists as possible in the show and, we have had multiple artists in multiple acts over the years

Other Information

  • Housing: we will do our best to help find places artists can stay in the bay area for the weekend of the expo. We were able to put up a few artists for a few nights in 2011 & 2012 which really helped them out and helps offset some of the costs.

  • Performers Only Photo Shoot: This event has grown in stature over the past 8 years and has become a place where dozens of photographers gather to capture amazing photographs. In addition to the photographs and footage obtained the night of the expo, the following evening we will have a photo shoot for performers only. To get a sense of what this means for your portfolio, please take a look at the list of photos from the 2011 Fire Dancing Expo. While there is no fiscal compensation for the show, the addition to the portfolio is, in many cases, worth over a thousand dollars.

  • How to find photos and video after the show: GlitterGirl has personal relationships with many of the photographers who generously take photos at the expo. As a result, she will gather all the details of photos and videos and post this information through the Union Square Expo Announce group on FaceBook.

  • Marketing Materials: each artist must submit the following marketing materials by the deadline listed in the table above for inclusion on our web site and in the program. Please view the 2011 Expo Lineup Announcement page for a sense of how this information will be used. We will provide a form for those accepted into the show which will including the following:
      • Photo of your group for inclusion on the web site (you will need to email this to the aforementioned email address)
      • The Name of Your Act as you wish it to appear on all future announcements related to the expo
      • A relevant promotional URL link we will use to promote your work. If you do not have a website, your YouTube channel will work. If you do not have a YouTube Channel, your Facebook fan page would work or even your personal page on Facebook.
      • A bio describing your group/act that is no more than a single paragraph (approximately 5 sentences)
      • A video link of your work which will be included in the promotional blurb about your group/act

  • Badge Information: In order to maintain safety and security at the event, all artists will wear badges. We will provide a form for artists accepted into the show where this information can be filled out.
    • Artists name, in full
    • Group name, if part of a group or the word “Soloist” if a solo act
    • Role which will be either “Performer”, “Safety” or “Crew” – please note all “crew” members must be pre-approved by GlitterGirl.

  • Music for the Show: All acts must provide a fully edited, cut-to-the-correct-time (we do not fade music!) single track for their act(s). Please note, each act can use one and only one track, so edit your music to one track that is the exact length you want. Music not sent on time and/or not edited to a single track cut to the proper length will result in your expulsion from the event (and, where applicable, your travel stipend given to someone else). Please email the music with a subject line of Artistname’s Music in mp3 or mp4 format ONLY!

  • Cue Card Information: Each act will need to provide a cue card with a 10-40 word introduction you wish spoken for your act. This should be typed out and emailed in with explanations of pronunciations in the text. For example, to be clear that “Isa” is pronounced properly, I might write: Isa (with an “E” sound, as in “Lisa” without an “L” or “Isabel”) to make it clear to the show emcees. For artists accepted into the show, we will provide a web form for you to fill this information out closer to the show date.

  • Safety Team Information: Each act will need to provide details for any safety needs they have for their act. This should include any tool changes, how many artists will be exiting the stage and what tools they will be using. For artists accepted into the show, we will provide a web form for you to fill this information out closer to the show date.

  • Walk through: Friday night before the show (subject to change if the date of the show changes), GlitterGirl will do a walk through with the artists who are interested. This will happen at Union Square. This walk through will explain the information about who is where, how artists enter the stage and we will do a quick visualization of the space so artists can appreciate the proximity of the audience to the stage in various places around the stage.

  • Union Square information: For details about the stage, fueling area, spin out area, stage layout and the general view of the space overall, we have created these maps of Union Square for the expo.

  • Music cue: Each artist will need to submit the details of their music cue. This should explain where you will be located on the stage and what position you will be in when the music should start as well as indicating if the tool(s) will be lit. This information is imperative to ensure the clean start of your act. Ror artists accepted into the show, we will provide a web form for you to fill this information out closer to the show date.