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Donia


member
Location: Seattle, WA USA

Total posts: 0
Posted:I wanted to initiate a dialog about the responsibilities Fire performers have to children who attend their shows. This is to generate ideas and kind of have a meeting of the minds. I perform with a couple of different troupes and there have been kids at these shows. As a professional I would like to hear others experiences with this. Some recent events have lead me to explore this question. And I think it is important for other fire performers to explore it as well.This is simply for opinions and ideas and not judgements. It is such area.Donia "Where there is sorrow, I seek the flame."Rumi

Donia Love
Ignis Devoco Industrial Fire Circus

Where there is sorrow, I seek the flame.
Rumi

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Great question, especially since I am the proud mother of a six year old. First of all, my ruling on teaching is that if I am going to workshop kids in anyway, I keep fire out of it all together.We make announcements and do something very similar to what Draevon said, except we use it as a crowd energy raising thing...."Alright everyone, before we get into this the crowd seems a little quiet and we want to make sure we can hear you. We want you to yell.."Don't Try This" as loud as you can and cheer." At Renaissance Faires, where we do the bulk of our shows, this makes the adults laugh and the kids respond, it also charges up the audience for the competition skits my partner and I do. It works really great.At the end of the performance we re-iterate to not try this, both kids and those adults who become kids (making hand symbol of drinking), because we are professionally crazy and well trained. Then we introduce ourselves again and take the bow.Because of this being concidered a dangerous skill acts, most faires mandate we make an announcement anyway, so we have made it common practice. So far, so good. Then again, we never actually say what we use or anything and we don't allow patrons to touch our materials.Outside of faires, as festivals and stuff we usually have the safeties do the talking with the audience in this respect, since they work crowd control and the public ususally feels more comfortable asking the "normal" looking ones questions above us performers.I am interested to hear what others have to say though.------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir..."I prefer not to go where there is a path but to blaze a new one!"

Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Posted:I have no experience teaching or performing for children, but I do agree with Pele's recommendation that if you're going to teach kids, leave fire out of even the demostration. I like Pele's suggestion too about the energy raising warning. I've also heard, though I don't remember where I picked it up, the idea of getting the kids to raise their hands and *swear* that they won't do this at home. This would work well with a kids only audience. I think getting them to agree not to is a step above telling them not to. Diana

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Donia


member
Location: Seattle, WA USA

Total posts: 0
Posted:I am not sure if you are getting the point of the post if you keep commenting in the teaching of children. That is an old topic. What I am interested in hearing about is what you feel your responsibility is to the children who may attend your public fire shows.Donia"Where there is sorrow, I seek the flame."Rumi

Donia Love
Ignis Devoco Industrial Fire Circus

Where there is sorrow, I seek the flame.
Rumi

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Donia,I didn't miss the point, that is the point. When you are performing you are inadvertantly teaching, whether you want to believe you are or not, and not only children but how many times have we come across some adult who wants to try this because they saw someone else? It is an inevitability in this business.We can not help children being at our venues, and in fact I *want* them to experience what we do. The only thing we can do is to tell them to not try this, or get them to repeat it or whatever...and even then sometimes that is not possible.The best thing to do is set that positive example. Be safe, be aware and be professional. I *know* there are times when kids walk into the middle of the show and leave before it's over and never here the warnings. I *know* there are types of performances where you just don't say anything at all. It's part of performing, being that unsuspecting role model, and there is nothing you can do to stop that. If you are really so concerned then the only real thought I have is to limit your venues to those you are certain children will not wander into. Other than that, you put on a good show, be professional and safe and if you can slide in a warning then do so. That is all I feel that really can be done without being unreasonable and destracting from the show, or without looking like a show off as if you are trying to make this seem harder than it is.IMHO that is.------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir..."I prefer not to go where there is a path but to blaze a new one!"

Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Charly


member
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

Total posts: 68
Posted:Here's what I think about children at fire shows:1) There's a certain amount of parental duty I expect. For example, when children see violence on television, I'd expect the parent to explain that it's 'make believe' and that no one really died. Likewise, I'd expect parents to explain to their children that fire is very dangerous and will burn you if you handle it incorrectly.2) After our performances, we go out into the audience to pass the hat and meet the audience. During that time, if we see a little person, we introduce ourselves and take the opportunity to explain how yes, it looked pretty cool but it is *very dangerous* and isn't something just anyone can or should do. Lately, we've been telling children in our audiences that the faeries taught us how to dance with fire, and that you have to be a grown up before they will teach you! It seems to work well, and the parents always leave with a smile and a 'thank you'.3) I agree with Pele, a demonstration *is* a form of teaching, thus safety concerns should be addressed. We always work closely with the local fire officials to make sure we are legal and that they know what we're doing - no surprises! They know that some of our events may include children in the audience.This is an excellent discussion, and applies to fire performers all over the world! We may exist under different laws but we all have a responsibility to keep our audience members safe, especially children.Our sensitivity to the children and fire issue has really increased since taking on a new troupe member a few months ago. She, too, is a mother, and we all adore her 10 year old daughter, who often hangs out at our practices and comes to our shows.Burn safely, kids!~*Charly*~------------------www.cabiri.org

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s-p-l-a-t


member
Location: Brisbane, Qld, Australia

Total posts: 383
Posted:hmm.. while i agree with the fact that small children shouldn't generally play with fire - there are always exceptions. (it goes against that whole 'play with matches and you'll get burnt' ethic that was drummed into me so strongly as a kid!) e.g. Pele's kid, a whole bunch of maori kids, umm..im SURE other firetwirler's kids.. etc.umm ... maybe it's just where i've busked, but i just couldn't tell kids it was 'faeries who taught us' .. i would feel condescending. kids are smart and i remember i couldn't stand anyone who spoke to me like i had no real clue (when i was little that is.) That's not to say i think the whole approach of "don't try this at home" is useless - on the contrary. Audience participation like that can only be good - it also might be more likely to hit home with a lot of kids. MHO..

The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.- B.B.King

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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:Caveat: I have not twirled fire in front of kids. I have seen others do it. I do not have kids. So take this for whatever it's worth.I think the "faeries taught us" routine is cute, and might work with kids up to about 6. Beyond that and you'd start encountering skepticism.The saving grace of those slightly older, skeptical kids is that they are self-aware enough to appreciate that fire is scary. The times I've seen fire twirling in front of kids, they were clearly agog. Some kept a respectful distance. Some were clearly skeptical that this really was fire--as if that would be too dangerous in the first place--they thought it was some kind of trick. The twirler got fairly close to these kids--close enough for them to feel the heat--and the kids figured out "oh, this is for real! This really is scary!"It's a tricky thing--you don't want to condescend to the kids, you don't want to make it seem forbidden (and therefore more desirable), and what works for one kid won't work for another. I don't think there is one right answer, and you'll need to read the audience.

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

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Charly


member
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

Total posts: 68
Posted:Yes, 'faeries taught us' only works when the theme of the perforance is wood nymphs and tree dryads, and the child is under age 4. For next month's 'battle between the Winter King and Summer King' performance we'll have to use a new story with the children.Bigger kids aren't fed such silly tales... although I do believe that faeries teach some of us fire! Tee hee hee...~*Charly*~aka 'Fire Faery'

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FlameChild
SILVER Member since Jun 2002

FlameChild

Pyromantic
Location: Norway (Way way up North, on t...

Total posts: 136
Posted:I have a recommended 14 year age-limit to my fire-shows. Wether the parents bring their little one is not my problem then.
I've done what I can.


-= I am the god of Hell-fire =-
-= And I bring you......fire =-

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ivan..


ivan..

member
Location: Halifax, NS

Total posts: 165
Posted:should kids be allowed to watch what we do?

it's moot, we can't always control who sees our shows...

so bearing that in mind certain steps are taken to insure that they understand:

1. it's dangerous
2. we are highly trained
3. they should never attempt it

we talk and talk with the audience hammering those points in .. ( in as many entertaining ways as possible )

as long as the performers show the responsibility to talk about the dangers inherant to fire they are doing their job ... it's up to parents to make sure that the children are aware that stuff theyu see in't always something they should copy

( fire performance, kung fu movie stunts, wrestling ... etc.)

my 1.3 cents


thats right i look like an albino ape that has had a bad day.. go ahead say something stupid... i dare ya !

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dwuanos


member
Location: Freo

Total posts: 79
Posted:I've a speel that my mother locked me in a closet with nothing but a box of matches for 5 years, and if they want to learn what I know ask they're mothers to lock them in a closet. Failing that I just pull out a few off the old scars and tell them that doctors are a bunch of thieves.

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Children are perhaps the best and the worst element of any performance. Win over the children in a positive way and even the staunchest, most negative onlooker will have a great time.

But the responsibility that comes with being centre-stage in a childs mind is almost overwhelming the more you think about it.

For me, about half of my work is based on childrens entertainment, and Ive developed a few rules, not just based on fire shows, that are now the core of my performances.

1. Dont say dont. Saying dont do this and then doing that thing in front of a child is counter productive. Kids learn by seeing and by others experience, they do not learn by rules from someone who does not have the power to discipline them.

2. Its much better to talk about your own experiences as a historical fact (even if made up) and let the child work out the lesson that just to tell them the lesson. Eg Ive spent YEARS getting thumped, smashed, knocked, bruised and burnt to get to this skill level. And I STILL hurt myself every now and then!

Most children will arrive at the conclusion that if they want to do this, they will ALSO get thumped, smashed, knocked, bruised and burnt at the start. Because they are the ones who have made the connection, rather than being told dont do this or youll get hurt, they are far more likely to take it on board and understand the lesson.

3. Focus on your safety and their equipment as a second way to allow people and kids to arrive at the this is dangerous conclusion. Explain who your safety is, what equipment they have and why they might suddenly rush at you with a fire extinguisher.

4. YES IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CAREGIVERS TO CONTROL THE CHILDREN. But, the chance that a child may escape their caregivers for a few moments is pretty much a certainty with large groups. IT IS JUST AS MUCH YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE AWARE OF WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU, AND TO NOT HURT CHILDREN OR OTHERS WHO GET TOO CLOSE. Do you step in front of a speeding car because you are on a pedestrian/zebra crossing and have right of way? Same thing applies, react to the circumstances and never assume that nothing will go wrong

5. Dont encourage children to come up close without their parents, or encourage the parents to come up too. Sometimes this teaches children to go up to strangers and the next stranger might not be an honest, well-intended performer.

6. Expect the unexpected from children at all times!

7. When busking, get the kids to thank their parents for allowing them to watch you at the end of the show.. It reminds the children that their parents are the ones in control, not the crazy guy in the outfit and the flaming toys!


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PK_
BRONZE Member since Dec 2001

PK_

Lambretta Fanatic


Total posts: 4991
Posted:quote:Originally posted by ivan..:
2. we are highly trained
speak for youself


PK.

"To be an angel, one need not have wings.
In giving love there is an equal grace.
Nor need one seek the aura in the face,
As love unveils the beauty of all things."

*Francois Couperin.

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Toreador Vamp
BRONZE Member since Mar 2017

member
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 70
Posted:I have to agree. Not that i perform in front of kids with fire, but i do perform (I do single combat re enactment stuff)

At the start of a show we emphasise that the weapons are real, that they are dangerous. We run a double roped barrier between us and the crowd, and we stipulate that anyone entering that area will casue our show to stop.

After the show we meet and great. Show the kit etc, people ask about what we do and we are up front, it is dangerous, it takes pratice, we train 2 hours a week 50 weeks of the year and have to pass safety tests before we can perform in public. Most people assume that we are using lightweight stage props. until they see the stuff upclose and feel the weight of the kit etc.

Accidents happen, our routines are not staged and most of us carry bruises, and or cuts most of the season.

There is only so much you can do. But it is always worth taking the time to talk to the public on the safety side of things.

Vamp


Give a man a fire, and he's warm for a day. Set him on fire, and he's warm for the rest of his life
-- Terry Pratchett-Jingo

Reality is what refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Not to mention, that safety talks tend to get you repeat gigs, as well as peace of mind...

HoP Posting Guidelines
* Is it the Truth?
* Is it Fair to all concerned?
* Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
* Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

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