Hot Stuff: World Class Fire Artist Shade Flamewater Visits St. John’s

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Shade Flamewater is from Cornwall England. For him, the journey out began when his family moved to Australia at 7, where he still lives. When he’s at home, that is. The Flow Arts Awards winning instructor and innovative, world class fire breathing artist spends a lot of time on the road these days, plying and teaching his awe-inspiring trade.

Considered among the best in the world at what he does, with viral videos that have over 3 million views, and teaching and performing gigs worldwide solo or with The Flamewater Circus and other circuses, I asked him how a set of workshops in Newfoundland came to be.

Local circus/fire artist Danielle Knustgraichen contacted him for Skype lessons some time back and a communication started that ultimately led to St. John’s being the first date on his Canadian summer tour.

“I’ll go anywhere the numbers are, and there was a lot of interest here,” he says. He’s sitting across from me on Danielle’s patio as she lays in a hammock surrounded by herbs and strawberry plants basking in our shot at summer.

“I really want to teach and share skills in the community. He’s taught me and others so much in the days he’s been here.” Danielle says. As I talk to Shade about all the places he’s traveled and taught, from New Zealand to the Southwest United States, I can’t say I am not a tiny bit jealous of such an existence, but I know circus arts are really hard work.”

Shade also runs a kids’ magic company in Australia and juggles, but the mindbending fire breathing techniques he teaches are what his 2 workshops this week at Factory in downtown St. John’s were about. A two and a half hour beginners workshop and an advanced one of the same length the next day taught locals tonnes about the art and safety aspects of shoving a flaming torch into your mouth. Brave folks.

Shade’s been at this for 14 years and can not just breath fire, but dance with a flaming stream of fluid erupting from his throat, and do group tricks that break the neck of amazing. It’s a feather in Danielle’s cap to have gotten him here, and her enthusiasm for the local fire arts community is clear. Our chat turns to the upcoming Lantern Festival and she confides that this year’s group fire performance will be the biggest and best ever.

In my research on Shade, I came across fellow Flow Arts Awards winning fire breathing instructor and performer Jandro Fuego, who preforms as Cilantro. The two have worked together a lot, so I asked Jandro for a comment on Shade’s contributions to the fire arts world.

He responded “the first night we met we immediately blended our forms unlike anything that had ever been done previously. That night Shade began using his fire eating techniques to ignite off of my fire breathing techniques in ways that require an unimaginable amount of skill and control. That night united both of our forms, fire eating and fire breathing, and brought them both to new levels which we, and our students and peers, have continued to take the direction of fire manipulation. If anyone were to be credited for spawning ‘hybrid Partner fire eating / fire breathing Tech,’ his name would be paramount to that list.”

About Author

Felicity Roberts

Felicity grew up dreaming of finding a way to pick berries as a profession, and has almost succeeded. A collector of local plants and lore, she is always searching for a new use for an old ingredient, and still wears odd socks to confuse the faeries.

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