Best Way to Light up the Night

| May 6, 2011 | 0 Comments
Tahoe Fire Dancers

The art of spinning poi originates with the Maori in New Zealand.

Andrea Creo overcame her fear of fire by learning to swing flaming orbs suspended by string around her body.

Founder of the Tahoe Fire Dancers, Creo first witnessed fire dancing, appropriately, at Burning Man, five years ago. Based on the traditional movements of the Maori poi performance in which balls, attached to a length of cord, are twirled in circular patterns, the art form completely captured her imagination. Upon her return from the annual festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, Creo, a South Lake Tahoe yoga instructor, began ordering DVDs and attending workshops to learn how to spin shapes from flames, traveling as far as New Zealand to hone her skills.

Growing up on a 20-acre property in Amador County, Creo was forced to evacuate multiple times because of wildfires. More recently, she fled the Angora inferno that raged through South Lake Tahoe in 2007. “I am trained fully in fire safety and take it very seriously because I did have a fear of fire,” says Creo. “I have overcome that fear, but I have a high respect of fire.” She holds a fire safety card issued by the state fire marshal of Nevada.

Creo’s dance partner is Christian Ardita, whom she met at an experimental dance jam at a South Shore yoga studio. They perform as a duet, adding more dancers to the mix as routines require. To summon forth flames, they employ Kevlar soaked in fuel. “That can be put on the end of chains, staves, fans, but most traditional is poi,” says Creo. While they can tailor their music to the event—parties, corporate events, festivals—given their choice, “we dance to whatever moves us,” she says.

Despite the destructive properties of her medium, Creo has never had a mishap while dancing. “I take a lot of precautions,” she says. “I’ve not left myself a lot of space to have accidents.” She adds that she’s called off shows on account of wind, and ensures that her space is adequate—no low-hanging branches, pine needles or combustibles—before lighting up.

Beyond captivating audiences with their glow shows, the Tahoe Fire Dancers strive to make their art form safe and accessible to the community. To that end, Creo and Ardita offer private instruction and will host workshops in Kings Beach this summer. And, of course, come September, the Tahoe Fire Dancers will take their burning passion back out to the Black Rock playa. By Susan D. Rock and Anne Roos. TQ

Category: Best of Tahoe 2011, Uncategorized, Visual Arts

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