Is becoming a fire breather right for me?

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What do fire breathers do?

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How to become a Fire Breather

As a performance art form, fire breathing does not have specific formal educational requirements in the traditional sense. However, there are important educational aspects and recommended steps to become a fire breather:

Research and Familiarization
Start by researching the art of fire breathing. Read books, watch videos, and study the techniques and safety precautions involved. Familiarize yourself with the different types of fire performance and the equipment used.

Seek Professional Training
It is highly recommended to receive formal training from experienced fire performers or reputable fire schools. Look for workshops, classes, or mentors who can teach you the fundamentals of fire breathing and performance techniques.

Understand Fire Safety
Fire breathing can be extremely dangerous, so understanding fire safety protocols is crucial. Learn about fuel safety, proper fuel storage, ventilation, fire extinguisher usage, and emergency procedures. Always prioritize safety and be prepared to handle potential risks.

Start with Basic Fire Manipulation
Before attempting fire breathing, it's important to gain experience with other forms of fire manipulation. Start by learning fire spinning, fire dancing, or other fire prop techniques. This will help you develop essential coordination, timing, and spatial awareness skills.

Gradually Progress to Fire Breathing
Once you have a solid foundation in fire manipulation and safety, you can begin practising fire breathing techniques. Start with small, controlled fire breaths using non-flammable materials like water or food coloring to simulate the fire. As you gain confidence and proficiency, you can progress to using fuel and practicing with real fire.

Core techniques to learn include:

Methods of Extinguishing a Torch

  • Eating the Fire / The Standard Fire Eat – Torch goes in mouth, fire goes out, no breath
  • The Blow Out – Torch goes in mouth, blow out air to put out fire
  • Straight Snuff – Fire eating while keeping your head level
  • Multiple Fire Eat – Basic fire eat with several torches at once
  • Flaming Cotton Ball Extinguish – Put out a cotton ball as you would a torch
  • Hand Snuff / Palm Extinguish – Put the torch out by snuffing it with your hand
  • Jellyfish / Whip / Toss Extinguish – Pull the torch down out of the flame to extinguish it

Body Trails or ‘Fuses’ to Transfer Fire Using Your Body

Collecting Vapor from a Hollow Torch and from the Wick Itself

Manipulating Vapor

Practice, Practice, Practice
Consistent practice is essential to hone your skills as a fire breather. Regularly train under controlled conditions, focusing on your technique, breath control, and precision. Experiment with different fuels, mouth rinses, and ignition methods to find what works best for you.

Perform in Safe Environments
Once you have developed a strong skill set and confidence in your abilities, start performing in safe and controlled environments. This can include local open mic nights, talent showcases, or small-scale events. Gain performance experience while adhering to safety guidelines and ensuring appropriate safety measures are in place.

Obtain Liability Insurance
As a fire performer, it is advisable to obtain liability insurance to protect yourself and others in case of accidents or injuries during your performances. In fact, insurance may be required by some event organizers and/or venues. Consult with insurance providers who specialize in covering fire performers to understand the available options.

Additional Education
While not specific to fire breathing, training in dance, theatre arts, or other performing arts can help aspiring fire breathers cultivate stage presence, expressiveness, and choreography, all of which can elevate their performances.

Continuous Learning
Stay up-to-date with industry trends, safety practices, and new developments in fire performance. Attend workshops, seminars, and conferences related to fire arts to expand your knowledge and connect with other performers and professionals in the field.

First Aid and CPR Certifications
Obtaining certification in first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is highly recommended for fire performers. These certifications showcase your ability to respond to potential emergencies and provide immediate medical assistance if needed.

Professional Organizations
While there may not be professional organizations exclusively dedicated to fire breathers, there are broader performance and fire arts organizations that can provide resources, networking opportunities, and support for fire performers. These organizations often encompass a wide range of fire arts, including fire breathing. Here are a few examples:

  • Flow Arts Communities, such as the Flow Arts Institute (FAI), focus on various prop-based performance arts, including fire spinning, fire dancing, and fire breathing. These communities often organize events, festivals, and workshops where fire breathers can connect with other performers, share knowledge, and collaborate on projects. FAI offers a fire safety course targeted specifically at fire performers.
  • North American Fire Artists Association (NAFAA) brings together fire artists from different disciplines, including fire breathing. The association provides resources, forums, and opportunities for networking, and promotes safety and professionalism in the fire arts.
  • Regional and Local Fire Performance Groups bring together fire performers of all disciplines. These groups often host events, workshops, and meet-ups where fire breathers can connect with like-minded artists, learn from each other, and collaborate on performances.
  • International Jugglers’ Association (IJA) is the world’s oldest and largest non-profit circus organization, and is open to members worldwide.
  • World Buskers Festival is a 10-day international festival of street performers that has been held annually since 1993 at the end of January in Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) is an organization dedicated to promoting the health, well-being, and performance of dancers.
  • American Circus Educators (ACE) is an organization focused on circus arts education, encompassing performers, educators, and enthusiasts.
  • American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) promotes the participation of youth in the circus arts.
  • Circus Now is a global organization that advocates for contemporary circus arts and supports artists in the field. It promotes circus as a vibrant and evolving art form.
  • Circus Talk is an independent circus resource center to unite the worldwide circus under one virtual tent.
  • World Circus Federation (WCF) exists for the sole purpose of preserving circus traditions for future generations.
  • European Federation of Professional Circus Schools (Fédération Européenne des Écoles de Cirque Professionnelles – FEDEC) is a European and international network of about 70 member schools supporting the development and evolution of training, teaching, and creation in circus arts education.
  • The UK Circus Network was created to support the circus community throughout the United Kingdom and in particular ‘to be the UK’s Youth Circus Umbrella.’