7 Reasons Fire Dancers Benefit From Running Hands Through the Fire

Fire Dancing Safety
Artists: Liquid & GlitterGirl
Photo: Chris Laskowski

We recently published an article titled 5 Criteria To Help You Decide if Someone is Ready to Spin Fire and were asked:

“What’s important about someone being able to run their hand through the flame or putting out a fire?”

In fact, enough people commented on this that we thought the first safety article deserved a follow up to help share what we’ve seen through the process of helping thousands of fire dancers light up for the first time. Here are 7 Reasons Fire Dancers Benefit From Running Hands Through the Fire:

  • confidence: by knowing your skin will not immediately catch on fire and burn like a classically depicted vampire in the movies, they are able to differentiate reality from the images that pervade our media and entertainment airwaves.
  • more control: in running their hand through the flame, a person reduced the adrenaline response to the flames which assists them in remaining in control if/when something does go wrong
  • self reliance: in that transfers are not uncommon, particularly when using white gas which is used frequently domestically, it is sometimes necessary to extinguish the transfer with the bare hand. When someone is comfortable running their hand through the flame, they become more comfortable slapping out a pesky transfer without delay
  • prepared for the unexpected: wind, as a somewhat unpredictable element that is not easily tamed by man, can cause the flames to whip around. The unexpected gust of wind may even cause the flames of a buzzsaw to lick someone’s face. In the earliest days of the school before rigorously enforcing this drill with students, we watched some fire dancers who had no experience with touching the flame have unexpected incidents with the wind occur that scared them. We believe a fire dancer who has touched the flame will be more prepared for the unexpected gust of wind or the prop that didn’t move in quit the right plane that comes toward their naked flesh — face, neck, hands or otherwise.
  •  fear reduction: through practice and exposure, we gain experience which naturally reduces the (inherent and appropriate) fear of fire because one is actually seeing their own skin move through the flame unharmed rather than imagining what that might feel like. As they say, fear is always worse than realty. We’ve had so many students say it’s so much less scary than they imagined. We’ve even had students hit themselves in the face with fire the first night and be elated because of it. By experiencing fire-to-face contact, they knew exactly what the sensation was like and no longer needed to fear it. Since fear is malignant, fear of impact looms in an inexperienced artist’s thoughts and doubts arise as someone lights up for the first time. Why let them linger when you can easily dispel the myths and have people operate from knowledge rather than ignorance?
  • because back drafts happen: by being able to run your hand through the fire, if, when trying to extinguish a poi with a safety blanket, you have a back draft or something else that causes the flames to leak out the duvey, you’ll be more prepare to handle both the heat and flames. Even if you have a spotter, we believe there is value in running your hand through the flame because you never know how they will react either and this allows you to back them up more effectively while extinguishing your prop.

If you’re ready for fire safety lessons via private instruction, want to try Zero to Fire in 4 Hours!, want to join our next beginner class or have other questions, contact GlitterGirl directly or subscribe to our newsletter for mailbox delivery of this and other articles written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek professional guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <that pretty little ‘at’ symbol> TempleOfPoi <daaaaaaaught> com).

2 thoughts on “7 Reasons Fire Dancers Benefit From Running Hands Through the Fire

Add yours

  1. I didn’t have the benefit of that aspect of training when I began. A few years later when I was taught fire eating, my teacher started there, though, and I agree with all of the points you have made. I still use a mix (50/50 paraffin & white gas) with my larger props. But that training resulted in a huge increase with my confidence in dealing with the unexpected. Excellent points, Isa!

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