When cavemen discovered fire, humanity split into two distinct types of people. The first were those who observed fire and at once realized its tremendous power. They roasted meat over it, tapping into its nutritious potential. They smelted ore with it, unlocking the secrets of bronze, iron, and steel. They would go on to create Apollo 11 and Little Boy, miracles and horrors, mushing ever onward into the future, courtesy of their faculty of insight. It is thanks to them that we will one day take to the stars.
That first type of people are nerds. The second type of people saw fire for the first time and thought “Wouldn’t that look neat if I spun it around over my head?” This type of people are cool guys, such as Ase Anthony, the founder of Insphyre Performance.
Ase’s moment of realization came when he saw fire poi for the first time. (Fire poi is essentially two giant, burning pom poms suspended by chains and rhythmically swung around the body so their trails make hypnotic patterns.) Ase knew that he must have it, so he delved into the world of fire dancing. He founded a blog, fell into the company of like-minded people, befriended them, started performing professionally with them, and now heads Insphyre Performance, a hundreds strong community of professional entertainers.
Ase and his droogs are well-versed in many schools of fire performance. They practice the fire whip, a kevlar lash that scatters smoke and flames with a sonic boom. They are masters of the fire staff, a rod with burning spokes rolled endlessly around the body. They do fire limbo, fire jump rope, and pretty much everything else you’d yell at your kid about if he did it too close to the house.
“Fire breathing is the most dangerous thing we do,” said Ase, “Not for the audience, but for us. First of all, you’ve got a mouthful of fuel. If you fail to blow it out in a complete mist, there goes your beard. If you inhale any of it, there goes your evening. And if you manage to successfully blow it out, but the wind blows it back…well, no one likes it when that happens to them.”
“People always ask if we get burned,” continued Ase. “The truth is, if you’re afraid of getting burned, you probably shouldn’t be playing with fire.”
Insphyre Performance’s latest innovation is their LED equipment. With this marvel their performers may not only perform indoors, they may also clothe themselves in electric technicolor, twirl intricate designs into thin air before them, and otherwise put on an ethereal human light show which, in front of a dark backdrop, looks like the kind of thing Jerry Garcia could only induce dreams about.
“Little kids always run up to our performers after shows to ask if they can play with fire, too,” said Ase. “We always tell them the same thing: ‘Only with your parents’ permission.’ That has probably put a halt to a lot of aspiring fire dancing careers.”
Insphyre Performance has so far performed for big names like Best Buy, Cargill, and W Hotels, and they perform at all private engagements as well. They’ll travel to anywhere in the country, so if you would like to hire the cool guys for your next big box social, corporate event, or party, you may contact them through insphyreperformance.com.
By David Scheller