Vaudeville Vignettes: Wildfire

Photo by Juli Campbell
Photo by Juli Campbell

Vaudeville Vignettes: Wildfire
by Madame Sinclair

I remember the first time I met the Dark Follies. It was at the Hive Grand Opening in Kennebunk. I loved their style, the skits, and got quickly caught up in the rhythms of the drum. As they made their exit, I walked up to one of the fellow tall redheads and said I wanted to be a part of the group. When asked what my talent was, I quickly replied staff and singing. The thing was, I did not really understand the many things I could do with my staff at the time. Spinning staff is a flow art and I had no idea at the time what the concept of “flow arts” was and it’s only recently I’ve really been embraced into the culture.

We have several troupe members who are skilled in flow arts, or object manipulation. From ribbons to poi to fans to staves to swords, we like to spin things. The interesting thing to learn, besides the fact that virtually any object can be spun, is how many different ways there are to spin objects. We have some troupe members who use their props to accentuate their dance skills while other members enjoy some of the more technical moves their props can achieve.

I discovered by chance a connection to the flow community earlier this year via a Facebook Ad and decided to go to the event. There, I was surrounded by people from all walks of life who enjoyed spinning and manipulating objects as much as my friends and I did. With my fans in tow, I was told if I wanted to learn even more I should head to Connecticut to a spinning retreat called WildFire. I spent Memorial Day weekend on the grounds and it changed a lot of things.

When you check in on site at WildFire, they welcome you “home” and it felt like it.  For the entire weekend and into Monday, I learned from my peers how to achieve some fun technical moves and become more familiar with my props. These once strangers encouraged me to push myself to be my best and try new things with my props. We shared in each other’s victories on the field at night as people lit up their props for the very first time. We laughed with each other at some of the funny moves we did with our props, such as the “sexy peacock.” We cheered for each other when people finally achieved a complicated move they had been working on all weekend.

Not all of the workshops were about specific props as some were about character building, movement, and other small details that make a show come alive. Many of the learning moments came between workshops or after things were done for the day. There were no egos as people shared their skills with each other. Although I went to the event knowing only two people, I spent a fair amount of time adding many people online to be able to stay in touch with them. I plan to go back to WildFire and to many more events where I can learn to be not just a better performer, but a better flow artist.

More information on WildFire can be found at www.wildfireretreat.com

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