It was a fiery, fiery night…

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame! – William Butler Yeats

While our town grows and develops, the focus is usually on chasing money. Yes, it’s true we need money to survive, but we need art to stay alive, to stay passionate and to feel something beyond the joy of the material.

Artistry is a big part of our community, though I have often felt it is although it is almost completely unappreciated and forgotten. Nelspruit is very special in a whole lot of ways. One of the most interesting and not so talked about reasons why this town is special is because it is home to a group of people how are not only unique but who are artistically inspiring.

I’m talking about the fire dancers of Nelspruit, and the most incredible, and often impromptu shows they perform.

It was a rather warm night when I attended the last public performance, one held for a charity event, but the build-up held the same excitement that is always present when attending a show. The group, who hadn’t seen each other for a while, talk quietly but happily among one another. They laugh, tell dirty jokes, and while all of this is happening they are pouring out the paraffin, bringing out the lighters and unsheathing the tools to create their art. Poi, fans, and staff are part of the everyday vocabulary for these individuals, and while each of them is pretty much self-taught, they continue to learn from one another and encourage the new ideas that blossom from each gathering. Dedication keeps them going, and while it is not every night, or even every month that they will get together, that same passion for playing with fire is always there.

As we stand around waiting for the night’s display, the performers are getting ready to set the night ablaze…literally, not a pun intended anywhere. For many of those attending, it is their first time seeing a performance. They are unsure of what to expect and begin to curiously gather.

A soft glow of flame from the lighters and the toys are quickly lit. Suddenly the dark night is turned into swirls of flame accompanied by the quiet roaring of fire in motion. There is little talk while performers move their bodies in time with the flames. Every person is in their quiet zone of what could be described as focused meditation. One wrong move, one distraction can result in a nasty burn. I’ve seen the scars and heard the stories, but even a burn does to dampen the love of fire. If anything, a burn encourages them to better their performance and avoid future accidents. The movements are practiced to the point of becoming as natural as taking a walk. The night goes on, the toys are lit and

The movements are practiced to the point of becoming as natural as taking a walk. The night goes on, the toys are lit and re-lit and soon the group is glowing, as much as from the heat as in the sheer euphoria they are experiencing. It is written in their huge smiles when the fire eventually dims and they gather for a break.

While some might not be so impressed with the talk of fire dancing, seeing the beauty of it in person can quickly change your mind. The smooth moves and gentle artistry surrounding each performance are enough to win over almost any person.

These guys really love what they do, and it is sad that they are not performing more in and around town. Their skills are unlike any other performers in the area and their shows have even been requested in Mozambique and Johannesburg. The next time you are having an event, you should consider having something a little different to entertain your guests.

Add a fiery spectacle, have a few fire dancers!

Get in touch!

While there are a few fire performers in Nelspruit, you can find the group discussed and featured in the article and images here (They also teach students so get in touch!)

All images are courtesy of AlterNation (For a different take on your photography, let this Nelspruit based artist capture your moments)


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