With the OMG just around the corner and thousands of Burners hoping to score that golden ticket “home” one of the hottest and most coveted ticket opportunities happens among those in the great circle, specifically the Fire Conclave. After sending in a group audition tape and awaiting (usually very thorough) feedback from the Fire Council, contenders are judged on their attention to safety, choreography and how they showcase a mastery of their tools. Those who can present a new or unique way to express themselves with fire get bonus points. Given the nature of fire, this can be a dangerous sport, so where do aspiring fire spinners go to master their craft? Where do experienced fire performers go to keep learning new skills?
To a flow festival…
Perhaps as some sort of response to this question flow festivals have been popping up across the country. MOPS, Fire Drums and Universal Flow Gathering and fan favorite IgNight Fire Flow Conference, have all been attracting performers from across the world, and those events are just the ones in southern California.
The most recent, IgNight Fire Flow Conference featured a state of the art facility at Joshua Tree Recreation Area, a rugged desert terrain and a roster of teachers with enough talent to pack more than 200 classes into a weekend. The curriculum included juggling, yoga, archery, dance, improve, magic, hula hooping, swordplay, poi, dragonstaff, aerial acrobatics, shibari, object manipulation and other circus inspired acts. Revelers had a choose your own adventure opportunity where they created their own learning experience leisurely flowing from one workshop to the next.
Along with a massive turnout of over 1,000 attendees, IgNight had a rich culture circled around top tier instructors that have been offering unique performances at festivals and Burning Man for decades. For instance, Lester Mooney and Samantha from Fire Groove have brought their romantic partner performance Love in the Fire to Envision, Coachella and Lightning in a Bottle. Stephanie Federoff and Jessica Rothert, both members of the Narrators, perform on stage at numerous festivals while maintaining a regular variety act showcasing impromptu performances and evocative storytelling. Also joining the fray, Jeremiah Jensen who is a championship juggler, Firewalking instructor at the event and the operating founder of the throw zone.
Interestingly several of the folks who attend are there to fine tune already sharp skills, but a great many are new to fire or flow arts – sometimes both. Of these who work hard some take on performer roles in Los Angeles, Las Vegas or New York, then there are also those that find their way to the Playa – as members of the Fire Conclave.
In exchange for their hard work members of the Fire Conclave are rewarded with one of the best seats in the house during the final moments of the Man along with a loveable family of freaks with so much style they practically have superpowers. Many will enter, but not everybody who applies will make it into the great circle. Whether you’re a budding fire performer or you’ve been manipulating objects for decades, flow festivals like IgNight offer meditative inspiration, creative fitness and a humbling reality check that no matter how good we get at something there will always be more to learn. In fact, it only takes attending one to discover that opportunities to improve (both in flow and in life) are only limited by our own imagination.