Warming Up the Crowd
What do you get when you combine a homemaker, factory worker, a civil defense contractor and the daughter of a firefighter? It's something you've got to see to believe.
"Fire. We're talkin' 'bout fire," said Chris Englehart, member of the fire performance troupe Sphyre of Prometheus. "It's just an adrenaline rush. There's no way to describe having that much fire that close to your face."
The sparks behind Sphyre of Prometheus are the families who come most Saturday nights at Stephens Lake Park. Even a 10-year-old girl enjoys spinning her own Ferris wheel of fire. The group of trained performers works with trained spotters; one of the first things out of their mouths is "don't try this at home."
"We don't want beginners going out there without trained spotters helping them in case something safety-wise happens," said troupe member Bob Brummell.
Sphyre of Prometheus secured a special permit from the fire department. It has extinguishers and wet blankets at the ready to put out flames. Performers also keep their hair under wraps.
"I was definitely nervous," said Englehart. "I was sweating bullets, but you just have to keep your wits about you and be safe."
The performers are not fanning the flames of any religious or political group. Tribes in New Zealand once used fire spinning for the women to gain dexterity in the fields and for men to become more agile in times of war. Today, it has been rekindled as a way to express yourself, and even burn a few calories.
"It's a pure element and even having the slightest bit of control over a pure element has got to be one of man kind's things they strived for," said performer Krista Murray. "It's just great to come out here and do something you enjoy with people who enjoy it, too."
Sphyre of Prometheus will be offering a Columbia Parks and Recreation class on fire performance later this fall.