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historian_of_fire_arts


historian_of_fire_arts

newbie


Total posts: 20
Posted:Greetings kindred spirits. I am reaching out to the Home of Poi community for help. I am writting a book on "The History of the Fire Arts" which will be an all inclusive understanding and appreciation of those who create, perform, build, and teach everything and anything that pertains to the fire arts. I am presently on the chapter that deals with the fire staff. I am familiar with the Polinesian culture that started 'fire knife' dancing in the mid thirties from Samoa that eventually made it's way to Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand and, finally, Hawaii. I am also aware of fire staff spinning in India that began in the '60's. I have also heard stories of some forms of fire staff spinning in South America and even in Africa, but not yet confirmed. The informaton that I am seeking now is; who are the people responsible for inspiring the multitudes of 'white' people world wide to take up the fire staff. It appears to have begun in Australia in the late 80's or early 90's. If this is true, would someone be so kind as to direct me to anyone who might know who these people are. Their names, addresses, e-mail , websites; I'll take anything. If anyone should also know of any persons who were fire staff performing even earlier than the late 80's that was not bound to, or apart of, any ethnic identity, PLEASE let me know. To make this real simple, folks, I am looking for the first white people who wanted to adopt, take on, another cultures ethnic fire ritual and identity and ask them; why?
Someone knows and I really could use the info. Blessings to you all, and I hope to hear from you soon. Peace, Historian


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bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:www.robertheart.com wink

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ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Total posts: 2474
Posted:ubblol

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous and talented? Who are you NOT to be?

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DeepSoulSheep
GOLD Member since Sep 2002

DeepSoulSheep

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Berlin, Ireland

Total posts: 2617
Posted:Wasn't it actually validated by someone that he did in fact bring it to Australia?

It's not what you're asking for but if you want to know more about pois proliferation I may have something usefull for you...


I live in a world of infinite possibilities.

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ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Total posts: 2474
Posted:nah man u have it all wrong he invented staff

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous and talented? Who are you NOT to be?

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

addict
Location: Ohio, USA

Total posts: 674
Posted:I think your going to have a problem pin pointing someone as the "father" of what we do now. Staff spinning / object manipulation has been around forever (as in since we began picking up sticks to use for weapons). What we do is largely built off of that. Now you may find people like Mr. Hart who claim that they invented the art, or were the first to do it, or whatever, but validating those claims is going to be a problem.

As for putting fire into the equation, again, this was a culturally based thing for a long time. Who was the first person who saw someone lighting the ends of a stick on fire and spinning it around and said "I can do that"? I really don't think there is a first person we can really point to (Unless you want to really consider Mr. Hart, whose claims have been the subject of very little debate... he is wrong). Rather it was a cultural crossover. People hear about it and realize that they already know how to do it from flag-core, or martial arts, but are just adding something new - fire. But other than Mr Hart, I can think of no one who actually claims to have started everything.

It seems to be the consensus opinion among many of the staffers here anyway, that there was no beginning point to speak of of the art's progression into what we do. Further, you'll probably find a good deal of... disagreement between the cultural peoples who "began" the fire arts (knife dancers, Maori dancers, etc.) and us. What we do is a huge extension and culmination of these basic fire dancing arts which have GREAT cultural value, and a good deal of other arts (martial arts, yo-yo perhaps, etc. etc.). I would almost say that we are not partaking in the "fire rituals" of other cultures as you say (though Im sure others would argue against that), but are inventing our own brand of fire performance based off of a great number of other arts and influences than simply these individual cultures.

As such, it's going to be very hard if not impossible to point to a single individual or group that began the craze if you will. Rather, I think, you'd have to point out that the art of object manipulation was combined with the art of fire performance at a cultural integration level, not at a single point of interaction. The underlying "art" was already there. The disemination of the idea of lighting it on fire was an addition to, rather than a beginning to, that art.


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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Yep.

smile


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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
Location: London

Total posts: 3149
Posted:indeedy

"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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UCOF
SILVER Member since Apr 2002

UCOF

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: , United Kingdom

Total posts: 15414
Posted:*more unspecified words of agreement*

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mcp
PLATINUM Member since May 2003

mcp

Flying Water Muppet
Location: Edin-borrow., United Kingdom

Total posts: 5276
Posted:and nodding

"the now legendary" - Kaskade
"the still legendary" - Kaskade

I spunked in my friend's aquarium and the fish ate it. I love all fish. Especially the pink ones. They are my bitches. - Anon.

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Fine_Rabid_Dog


Internet Hate Machine
Location: They seek him here, they seek ...

Total posts: 10530
Posted:Lots of nodding.

The existance of flamethrowers says that someone, somewhere, at sometime said "I need to set that thing on fire, but it's too far away."

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historian_of_fire_arts


historian_of_fire_arts

newbie


Total posts: 20
Posted:So soon such nice replys. Thanks! I hope to meet ya'll somewhere over the rainbow someday. Well, I have gone to www.robertheart.com. Nothing there. Any other possible leads?
How do I contact the person that validates Mr. Heart's claim, DeepSoulSheep? Also, I would love to hear anything that you might have on the early embrace of the poi. That subject will be quite an extensive chapter in my book. A lot of poi lovers out there.
i8beefy2, wow! A philosopher indeed! I agree that I have a challenge before me that may indeed be unattainable. However, I do have good cause to persue this issue on the merit of it's significance. I would LOVE to know who was the first person to take apart girls rollar skates, nail them to a 2x4 board, and become the first person to skateboard. Or the first person to take a flat piece of wood and stand up on it in the surf. We'll never know, for sadly, communication tech. wasn't what it is today. There is something fascinating about anyone who is willing to face the critical opinions of others, good and BAD, in attempting to be seen as the 'first one'. Ten's, possible hundred's, of thousands of white people world wide have seen firestaff performers since the 1930's, especially in Hawaii where it has been a daily occurance for the tourists, via the luau party, for a very long time. Why wasn't it embraced back then? Why now? What did it take for white people to finally look at fire staff performing and say, "Hey, I want to do that! And I don't care of the danger to my person, or of the possible ridicule that I might recieve from my friends or family", when whites have been looking at it for such a long time and were not interested. Another example, hasn't it even been apart of the New Zealand Maori for decades?, and yet, there seems to be no mention of any white New Zealand firestaff spinners before 1992. How odd? I have a theory. I'll share mine after you have shared yours. This is really becoming interesting for me and my book. Peace ya'll


The pen is mightier than the sword

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

Total posts: 5967
Posted:I don't think the advance of spinning is anything to do with the race or colour of the person, but a shift in social attitudes.

Thanks in part to the internet and the vast amount of information now available, we are finding out more about each other and realising our similarities, as opposed to only celebrating our differences.

Also, (and perhaps because of the internet and greater ethnic diversity in our own countries) the possibilities for self-expression seem much more tolerated and appreciated than in years past.

There is also a base need to feel part of a group (a basic human characteristic).
Most spinners would consider themselves rather odd - but in fact, what makes them 'odd' is a rare openness and willingness to be different in public.

Despite the fact that self-expression is more tolerated, the majority of people (I think) still find it difficult to express themselves in public. Spinners are people who find happiness in spinning some balls on a piece of string, or twirling a staff. They have managed to get over that awkwardness and shyness to find the confidence to say 'this is what I do, either you like it, or you don't'.

More and more people are responding to that confidence - and joining in.

Ermmm.... ubbloco

Hope that made sense biggrin


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Knoxious
GOLD Member since Feb 2002

.
Location: , United Kingdom

Total posts: 420
Posted:Hi just to add my 2 cents...
As far as I can tell...Robert Heart was one of the original staffers and double staffers in Oz.
Speaking to 3 old timers they all seem to validate this story. NOT that he invented it, but simply that he brought a higher level of technical ability to Oz and the scene flourished directly from his time there. Apparently he was at a Confest way back int he day and kicked it all off there.
Historian of fire arts...e-mail me: knoxdave*at*yahoo*dot*com and I'll see if I can put you in touch with one of the old timers who can put you in touch with Mr Heart.
Respect.
Dave


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bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:Confest has been around since 1970's
a bit about the Heart can be read here:
http://www.lasvegastalentregistry.com/Registry/other/Misc/Robert%20Heart/robertheart.htm
br>
confest must be an important influence in australian fwirlage. it certainly has many cross-pollination of styles as a regular coming together of pyromaniac hippies smile
during the 80's, confest's fire dimmed and there were only once a year, some years missed entirely.

also, confestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfest
smile


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Dragon7
GOLD Member since Oct 2003

Dragon7

addict
Location: Aotearoa (NZ), New Zealand

Total posts: 625
Posted:Yeay confest, yeay robert heart! smile

I was fire dancing in the early 1980's. Its where my journey began... i dont make such brave claims as mister Heart though smile (and doubt im any where near as good) I did pass through Australia on my way home tho wink smile but dont profess to be the "person who brough fire to NZ" because I wasnt. * It was my grandfather * wink ubblol he use to make our staves ubblol And he was white, dose that count :P

A friend's grandmother was teaching fire poi and performing in the 1950's throughout NZ, America and around the globe. Unfortunately i doubt she's white enough to help you ubblol or myself either as we are all proud brown Maori.

Its saddens me that you have to be white for your fire culture to count. I find that frequently. In saying that, polynesian culture is all word of mouth so there are no books to base theory on. Fortunatly, we usually believe what others of our own race tell us, especially about their grandmothers :P biggrin

Most spinners dont worry about colour so much...we usually only care if they are nice people and good spinners. Because there are so many different origins of fire spread accross many cultures. And in NZ it tends to be heavly imbedded in traditional poi and rakau, im guessing by the amount of threads like this, that its different around the world shrug I try to have respect for all of them. And i totally argee with I8beefy.

All I can do is to continue to try to keep the original spirit alive through my dance and influence... Origin can begin as simply as pulling a stick from a fire and waving it around...or having it passed down from the gods (or your gafer) smile


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bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:thanks for sharing, dragon7, much respect to the path u have travelled, are still travelling!!

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arashi


arashi

Pooh-Bah
Location: austin,tx

Total posts: 2364
Posted:Great thread, this has been an interest of mine for a while. I for one have wondered how far back it goes in the East Asia areas, like China, etc. and if there were ever any use of fire with martial arts, etc.



I only know one little piece of the puzzle, mostly pertaining to the integration of fire poi, staff, breathing, etc. with dance and performance art, (not about the circus stuff or martial stuff), from about 93 or 94, in Central and North America. IOW the "white folks" biggrin wink There are doubtless other stories in the U.S to tell, I just know the stories of the people I've met... I've met and befriended a very major percentage (i think) of the fire art performers here in the U.S. who've been around for more than 6 years, or at least met friends of them. So it's a big world though, this can't be taken as law. Anyways as far as I know, performers began to spread the fire arts around after traveling to Thailand, Hawaii, New Zealand, etc. It really picked up in the late 80's early 90's, i say "picked up" but we're talking relatively here. It spread from there to South and Central America, just people busking on the beach and such (like robert heart). We picked it up around '93, from gypsy traveler type friends of ours, we're the gypsy type. We were already performing together and were traveling with it within a year, all over the west coast and halfway up the E. coast . Most of the shows we were doing were at raves, electronic music festivals, and parties that we put together ourselves (dj's/ fire performance/ceremonial dance gatherings in the woods basically) and I think that's how it spread through the U.S., from other people doing basically that as well. lots of people in the dance communities spread it around, both glostricking and poi, and luckily it caught on before the commercialisation of the dance culture set in, and the heavy irresponsible drug abuse by youth and lack of responsible guidance gave a compelling argument for the crackdown on all nonsanctioned dance gatherings. around 98/99 or so there was a big surge as the people performing in their own areas of the U.S. spread it out further into their communities.


-Such a price the gods exact for song: to become what we sing
-Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.
-When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path.

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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 2830
Posted:
Hi mr historian wave

I first saw fire twirling at ConFest 94/95, in Australia. It seemed new, and only a handfull of performers/dancers were doing it. Fire chains were rare until about 2000, and then they became popular as poi.

I started with staff, but now I do poi and swings torches. The use of fire in Indian club swinging goes back to at least 1908, because WJ Schatz gives instructions on fire torches in his Club Swinging book published that year. Apparently, wands and poles were also popular back then, so there might be a connection with other props.

You could also search HOP, becauses there a number of good threads on the history of fire twirling.

wink


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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historian_of_fire_arts


historian_of_fire_arts

newbie


Total posts: 20
Posted:Blessings to all cursed people.
The decision to become a part of this community (HOP) is becoming very clear to me early on, to be one of my best ideas ever. clap. The information and opinions that I am receiving are proving to be most helpful and enlightening, much to the delight of myself and my publisher. I feel, however, that I need to explain myself a bit better, so as to curtail any misunderstandings of my intentions, or any confusion to my meanings.

The book that I am writing has already been approved by a major publishing house. sunny(gotta wear shades). There are certain rules, however, that have to be strictly enforced.
- Proof of claims. (Certificates, newspaper/magazine clippings,
Dated photos, marquee posters, recorded broadcasts,
REPUTABLE talent/entertainment/booking agencies,
And/or a whole bunch of people verifying the claim.
- Every proven fact must be dated in a chronological order with
Geographic location.
- All interviews will be conducted in person, (I fly to you or we fly
You to us), or by video phone.
- All materials supplied MUST HAVE a signed release.
- All video must be dated or have proof within it's content.
ENOUGH! I'm sure ya'll get the picture by now. This is a major project with a nice budget. If you make a significant contribution to the creation of this book, (interview, essay, photos, etc.), you will be paid and placed in the bibliography/reference area for future generations to curse you. This book will have an amazing amount of photographs in it. Why not yours?

I have already expressed what the books content will be on, but I feel that a little more clarity needs to be rendered on certain issues that I will be discussing in the book in order to prevent any accusations of '-ism's', (sexISM, raceISM, ageISM, etc.)

I'm sure that you have already noticed my reference to 'white people' in my topic. I have an obligation to tell the truth, even if the truth should make some people uncomfortable. Facts make up the truth, and the truth shall set us free. There is nothing greater than freedom. So I shall not be afraid to present the facts to all of you when they make themselves known. Agreed?

It is a FACT that the vast majority of people logged into HOP are white, maybe as much as 99%.
It is a FACT that 99% of all of the people that attend BurningMan (40,000), and who perform in the fire conclave (over 600), for the past 4 years, are white. This phenomenon is a 'white baby' that was born somewhere in the 80's, (info so far), and I want to go back to that point where the sperm of the father, (Polynesian fireknife and poi), entered the egg of the mother,(desire by white people to have their own 'toy' identity, ie. Frisbee, hula hoop, yo-yo, etc.), and created the first complete cell that began to divide. I want to interview that first cell! That first cell is the "missing link" that ties current man to his ape forefathers...ahhhh...oh hell, you know where I am going with this. I don't know if it's this Heart guy, or someone before him, but I WILL interview that first cell, damn it! Take a good look around you people and see what this one cell has caused. This cell needs a good cursing by all of us.

There is nothing sadder than one who will do nothing, for he feels that what he does, will be but a little. There is nothing grander than one who does as much as he can, knowing that what he does, is but a little. Peace in our Hearts


The pen is mightier than the sword

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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 2830
Posted:One possible missing link would be through ancient art of Chinese fire meter. Have you read The Meteor Book by Rhys Thomas? There is a bit in there about an Australian circus fire performer that could be useful, as apparently he inspired Rhys. The association b/t Indian clubs/torches and circus is also strong in some places. Im thinking Flying Karamazov Brothers here. Cheers.

If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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arashi


arashi

Pooh-Bah
Location: austin,tx

Total posts: 2364
Posted:i also know a guy secondhand from new zealand who's been spinning poi for 20+ years, for much longer than robert heart. also a guy in the u.s. from thailand who's been spinning poi for 25-30 years. i've met most of the more experienced fire spinners out there, so lucky, huh? i've been quoted/interviewed in a book about fire before, i can put you in touch with the author but again she was mostly focused on the use as an art form and shamanic ritual here in the western hemisphere. not so much the "stand there and do tricks" stuff prevelant in the rest of the world devil

-Such a price the gods exact for song: to become what we sing
-Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.
-When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path.

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bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:much as i am interested in the history of fwiralge, i am uncomfortable with the emphasis on race. surely not everything on this beautiful world needs to be perceived in relation to being white or not white.
I myself am not caucasian, preferring to be seen as... a person! grouphug


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TheApprovingNinja


TheApprovingNinja

From the Ashes of a Ninja Rise THE HIPS OF RAGE
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 371
Posted:Going back to the difficulty of finding the one person, Is it not said that every time someone comes up with a good idea that three other people some where else in the world come up with it at the same time. You might be able to narrow it down to two or three people who started to influence roughly the same time but I think to find the proverbial sperm is impossible.

For example I came up with a funky move called the confusatron (undoubtely the stupidest name for a trick ever) Around the same time Dave (Knoxious) came up with something that involved exactly the same moves but called it something else.

Since the period in time that you're talking about is before the advent of internet people as you've said weren't communicating as well, and it's perfectly feasible that several people started to influence at different areas around the same time. Particualry as the new age traveller ideal started to take root.


Viva UGLY STAFF

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historian_of_fire_arts


historian_of_fire_arts

newbie


Total posts: 20
Posted:Ah yes, the 'hundreth monkey' example. For those of you who may not be familiar with this concept. While observing monkeys on two islands over an extented period of time, an unusual occurance took place where a monkey, for the first time, took a yam down to the water and washed it . The next day, all the monkeys on both islands began to wash their yams. This suggested the possibility of universal consciousness and inter-
connectiveness within a species. Read "The Hundreth Monkey".
Since this is the only known example of such an occurance and that the example was not held within strict scientific control, it has many detractors within the scientific community. Understandable.
I am in full agreement with you, TheApprovingNinja; The recent fire arts could very well be an example of exploding consciousness. But, it could also be an example of 'one cell'. We'll never know if I don't dig a little to try and find out which one it is, eh? Either way, I smell a good story here, and with the help of this community and a bit of luck, hopefully, it shall be answered. Thank you for your input!
By the way, I am still not having much luck finding this Robert Heart chap. The resume from Las Vegas looks interesting enough though. Thanks again Bender. Question: What's that rainbow image and how was it done? I've not seen anything like that before, even at Burning Man. Is it fake?
Please arashi, and everyone else who are being so generous and helpfull, if you have a good lead for me, you can send me their e-mail address, phone #, mailing address, etc., so that I may get a hold of them, at ruckandrule@yahoo.com.

May All Beings Be Happy.


The pen is mightier than the sword

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

Total posts: 5967
Posted:wave



Good luck with your project...



Can you tell us a little more about you? Your background and how you became interested in this subject, in a bit more detail?



Just being curious biggrin



Take care

Clare


Getting to the other side smile

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historian_of_fire_arts


historian_of_fire_arts

newbie


Total posts: 20
Posted:
I'd be happy to Clare. Here or at the introduction post?

Curiousity is a good thing. biggrin


The pen is mightier than the sword

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Hmmm... Both?!! biggrin

Always good to have an intro thread though... cos then you can talk about non-related stuff without people doing this : offtopic


biggrin


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bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:Written by: historian_of_fire_arts

By the way, I am still not having much luck finding this Robert Heart chap. The resume from Las Vegas looks interesting enough though. Thanks again Bender. Question: What's that rainbow image and how was it done? I've not seen anything like that before, even at Burning Man. Is it fake?


love letters go to:
spinboheart <at> yahoo <dot> com

site archived at:
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://robertheart.com
br>
ps: confestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfestconfest! smile


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historian_of_fire_arts


historian_of_fire_arts

newbie


Total posts: 20
Posted:
If this info pans out Bender, you'll be the one who will get my love letters. Thanks brother!


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bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:word in your ear tho: i'd take anything coming directly from Robert Heart with a pinch of salt, and make sure you verify it.PM me if you're after a reason for my advice.

cheers
Rob


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

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