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Light it up with Bio-Luminesce
The charm and beauty of fire has its opposing forces as well, much like the balance between yin and yang. As warming and beautiful as it can be, it also has the potential to be horribly disastrous. Fire has been hatefully used against people during war, and has been equally used to bring people together in harmony and celebration.
Flame Infatuation

  Our species’ attraction to fire dates back more than 9,000 years -- to when the first humans witnessed lightning strike the earth. They discovered how to harness that power with flint sometime around 7,000 BC, and with it opened a world of possibilities.

  Fire beget technology. At first, simple tools were fashioned, making way for crude weapons. Nine centuries later, we’ve advanced so far that, in the case of lighters and camp stoves, we never have to be separated from life-giving flame.

  The charm and beauty of fire has its cruel, opposing face as well. As warm and useful as it can be, it has the potential to be horribly disastrous. Used hatefully against people in war, fire has been equally used to bring people together in harmony and celebration.

  Along with the ability to make fire came a gradual advancement in technology. At first, simple tools were fashioned which eventually led to the creation of weapons. During the course of history there have been millions of other inventions all thanks to the powerful source of fire. In our modern day we’ve even advanced as far as creating gadgets in an attempt to capture fire such as camping stoves and lighters.

Typically referred to as “firespinning” or “fire dancing”, and sometimes as “fire twirling” or “flame throwing”, the ancient art involves lighting an object on fire and spinning it until the flames burns out. Flame throwing has most likely taken place since the caveman figured out how to grab a burning stick from a fire and twirl it through the air. As mentioned earlier, humans undoubtedly gravitate to fire and are curious about playing with it, often leading toward greater exploration and experimentation. Humans have tried everything from walking on fire and eating fire, to throwing and spinning fire. The old saying is inevitably true: “If you play with fire you will get burned.”

  The charm and beauty of fire has its opposing forces as well, much like the balance between yin and yang. As warming and beautiful as it can be, it also has the potential to be horribly disastrous. Fire has been hatefully used against people during war, and has been equally used to bring people together in harmony and celebration.

History of Firespinning

  Typically referred to as “firespinning” or “fire dancing”, and sometimes as “fire twirling” or “flame throwing”, the ancient art involves lighting an object on fire and spinning it until the flames burns out. Flame throwing has most likely taken place since the caveman figured out how to grab a burning stick from a fire and twirl it through the air. As mentioned earlier, humans undoubtedly gravitate to fire and are curious about playing with it, often leading toward greater exploration and experimentation. Humans have tried everything from walking on fire and eating fire, to throwing and spinning fire. The old saying is inevitably true: “If you play with fire you will get burned.”

  There is no limit to how many objects one could spin on fire. I have seen swords, juggling balls, juggling pins, hula hoops, fire fingers, clubs, num chucks, umbrellas, rope, fans, and many more. But the most commonly spun toys, and debatably the most ancient, are poi and staff.

 


  Poi has been used for hundreds of years by the Maori people of New Zealand. In olden days the Maori played a game they called “kii”. Through time, the name of the game evolved to “kiitoa”, then later to “poitoa”, and eventually was shortened to just “poi”. Literally translated, “poi” is the Maori word for “ball on a cord”.

  Traditionally made of flax fiber and spun to a sacred chant, today fire poi is usually made out of metal chain with Kevlar wick at the end. Both male and female Maori used poi in their daily lives. Generally, the women used poi to increase the flexibility in their hands for weaving while the men used it to improve strength and coordination for battle. Poi was also a training device for other weapons used in battle such as the Patu (short club). For more information on firespinning with poi, check out www.homeofpoi.com.

  Also reaching back far into recorded history, and called many names depending on the culture, the location in the world, and the time in history, is the staff. Other historic names include cane, rod, lance, bo, jo, spear, walking stick, sword, saber, and pole. Many forms of martial arts, such as Kung Fu, Karate, Aikido, Eskrima, T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Qigong, Ba Gua, and Bata (Irish stick fighting), incorporate the staff as both a weapon of attack, as well as a weapon of self-defense. Aside from holding great lore as a martial arts weapon in places like China, Okinawa, Japan, and the Philippines,
the staff as a fire instrument has much history in places like Polynesia and Hawaii. These days in Hawaii it’s common to see a fire staff being spun at a party or luau. To learn more about firespinning a useful website is www.fire-dancing.com

 
Bio-Luminesce

  In Sandpoint, Idaho, a brand new fire performing troupe is emerging that goes by the name Bio-Luminesce. Started at the onset of summer, the troupe was co-created by four members – Melanie Jerome, Natalia Ocasio, Jeff Dunwoody, and myself – all of whom live locally in the Sandpoint area. Spinning assorted toys like hula hoop, staff, juggling pins, and poi, our leading trademark and message to the world, however, is the fuel we burn.

  Firespinners generally use fuels that are of a limited resource and that release toxic emissions into the environment, such as kerosene, lamp oil, or the most commonly used fuel, white gas. Though white gas burns brilliantly when used in performances, the fact still remains that it’s a fossil fuel. The depletion of fossil fuels and the pollution they cause when burned is a primary global concern, one that leads us to consider non-toxic and more sustainable fuels.

  With a little research and a few simple experiments, we discovered that an excellent replacement fuel for firespinning is biodiesel. Not only does it burn longer than white gas, biodiesel is also sustainable, non-toxic, renewable, and one hundred percent biodegradable. Plus, biodiesel emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are significantly less than any other fossil fuel thanks to its main ingredient, vegetable oil. Since oil-producing plants absorb exactly the same amount of CO2 as is emitted when burned in an engine, there is no excess amount of CO2 that can take its toll on the environment.

  Bio-Luminesce has staged over seven fire shows, all using biodiesel. Incorporating both live and recorded music, and with a growing ensemble of firespinners, each performance is uniquely created. With other tentative performances lined up for the fall and winter, Bio-Luminesce offers “fire for hire”. We can host a firespinning workshop or we can put on a private show. And all the fire toys we spin, we also make to sell. So stay tuned and watch the night sky because you may see our golden flames in orbit. As we burn into the future, our goal is to continue to entertain, educate, and inspire, while simultaneously promote biodiesel awareness.

For more information, contact Travis Engle at bioluminesce@hotmail.com  or his cell at 808-936-5137.

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