Fire Dancing Expo

Fire Dancing Expo
Union Square Fire Dancing Expo – Photo by David Yu

The end of April marks the anniversary of the Temple of Poi Fire Dancing Expo.

The first event was held on a street corner in SoMa, San Francisco, in April, 2005. The show was an illegal renegade that was attended by hundreds, with the crowd spilling into the street and creating an unexpected safety hazard. Waldemar Horwat, then Temple of Poi Student who both performed in and photographed that show, has some fire dancing photos from his early collection here. 

So unexpectedly large was the turn out, Temple of Poi Founder, Isa GlitterGirl Isaacs, sought a safer and more majestic landscape to adorn with fire dancing performances. As fate would have it, The San Francisco Food Bank retained Temple of Poi for their annual holiday food drive in December, 2005. The show was held in Union Square and San Francisco public fire dancing performances made their way to the 70’x37′ stone stage.

In April, 2006 the first Temple of Poi Fire Dancing Expo happened and the show has been happening annually since. The Fire Dancing Expo is the largest free, legal public fire dancing show in the Western Hemisphere and has been since it’s premier. The event has afforded hundreds of artists the opportunity to perform on this grand stage and through the years the show has featured fire dancing community legends including Alien Jon, Banyan, Cyrille, Dai, Flowtoys, Manda Lights, MCP, Thomas, Vulcan Crew, Yuta, Zan & Aurora and more!

The creation of this event is a tremendous leap forward in the efforts to legitimize fire dancing as an art form by taking it out of parking lots and putting it on landmark stages like Union Square.

The Expo celebrates safe, legally permitted, public fire dancing performance in honor of Bay Area Dance Week, an annual 10-day week of free public dance events in the Bay Area designed to showcase the dynamic diversity and critically acclaimed quality of Bay Area dance. The Bay Area fire dancing community — one of the largest fire dancing communities in the world — stands side by side with international fire dancing legends at this event where artists of all skill level are afforded an unprecedented opportunity to showcase their work.

This event is a not-for-profit event created with the intention of:

  • Offering more performance opportunities for fire dancers.
  • Giving novice artists who might otherwise not have an opportunity to perform in a public setting an opportunity in which they can invite friends and family to see them express their art.
  • Increased exposure to the flow of fire art forms by creating a legally permitted public event at a San Francisco landmark location.
  • Raise the awareness of fire dancing as a prestigious dance form by holding this event on the second night of National Dance Week.

Though attendance has grown over the years from a mere 500 in 2006, the Expo is attended by an estimated 3,000+ people and for some artists, the largest audience they have performed in front of — an amazing opportunity all around!

At it’s inception, Temple of Poi (and by extension, Isa Isaacs, the sole proprietor and founder of the school and community) upheld responsibility for this event — organizing, advertising, promoting, and funding from beginning to end. As the event has grown, the community has contributed funds to assist in offsetting the cost of permits, fuel, advertising and other expenses. In 2011 & 2012, this event was funded predominantly through the generous contributions of the Kickstarter community and we hope to repeat that again in 2013.

Despite the funding we receive, GlitterGirl, Nova, paid assistance and volunteers contribute hundreds of unpaid hours to make sure this event goes off without a hitch while also spending resources to create the Kickstarter rewards. If you wish to help offset the debt and costs of the expo, visiting our Support the Expo page (coming soon!).

For those interested in participating in future shows, please review our Artists Resource and Contributors (crew, safety team, volunteers and photographers) pages. Also, you can explore more information from past shows using these links:

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