The Fire of Elves
By Adnan M.S. Fakir
"Don't play with fire.” Well… you should tell that to these guys. Their performances are exhilarating, their movements breath-taking (and I am not exaggerating); with balls of fire 'whooshing' past them as they dance and spin fire, as if its part of their own hands, while the music synchronizes with their bodies. They call themselves Naur, the elves' word for 'Fire' (of course inspired from non other than the Lord of the Rings).
The first time cavemen had seen fire, they probably thought that part of the sun had broken off and fallen to mother earth. From the time when they had first 'discovered' fire (or rather sparks of it), it never lost its popularity, from burning down forests to being worshipped, and now it has found its way into the stage. Fire spinning is becoming extremely popular nowadays, being called out for inaugurations, concerts, fashion shows, Holuds to even performances involving drive against drugs, and fund raising, due to their mass crowd attraction capability. This magnificent art sends shivers through your body without any adieu as you get urges to learn it yourself.
How It All Began
Moving a little further back in time, it all started through Samiya, an environmental scientist by profession and 'the premier Bangladeshi fire spinner,' when she had come back to Bangladesh from US in 2003 after her undergraduate studies from the University of Boston. While in Boston, she was a part of a fire spinning group named Anthelion, but she never dreamed that she would be fire spinning back here in Bangladesh.
Parash, an advertising executive and a teacher of Latin and classical dances, first saw Samiya fire spinning in a friend's house and fell in love with the art ever since. He learnt from her and within two weeks of learning, they were on stage at “The AD Festival 2003.” The third spinner to join the group was Ashique, who happened to be a medical practitioner (weird combination, huh?). Learning fire spinning from Samiya and Parash, he is the master craftsman of all the fire spinning equipments used in Dhaka. The three of them had their first stage show on May 19th, 2003 at the Dhanmondi Lake Open Theatre.
Shup (also known as the freak), a computer scientist, robotics researcher and a cross-country cyclist, first saw fire spinning at an ALO concert and given his love for extreme sports, signed up for spinning within a few days, and continues to mesmerize the crowds with his energy and unbelievable speed. He is supposedly the fastest fire spinner till date in Bangladesh.
Thus was the spark of Naur. Naur had continued to perform and teach with currently has over 50 students and has performed over 200 shows! They even had performances in Cox's Bazar and internationally at Shillong!
The Fire Equipments
Crafted by none other than Ashique, the main equipment used for fire spinning is called the Poi (literally meaning 'ball'). It consists of a strap, connected to a chain which is in turn connected to a tightly weaved ball of material called the Kevlar. The Kevlar acts as the head of the poi and when dipped in kerosene, burns superbly. A pair of this strap-attached-chain-attached-kevlar is used together for spinning.
For chemistry students and them only, Kevlar consists of poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide. It is ideal for fire-spinning because it is flame resistant and self-extinguishing. Kevlar is also used in the landing apparatus of Mars Pathfinder, acts as lightweight ropes that 22,000 pounds and help moor the largest Navy Vessals, and are also used in making bullet proof clothes. So as far as it goes… they are pretty tough.
Anyways, back to the article. Other instruments used for fire-spinning include, staff, double-headed staff (staff with two balls of fire attached to each end), triple-headed staff, triple-headed poi (I will not bother to describe), fire-swords (with Kevlar strapped all along the blade… looks awesome!), and also a Star Wars Fire Saber (you know… with those laser thingies, which are supposed to be blades, on both sides of the handle).
Although this art ay seem very dangerous and stuff, but frankly it is not as it seems. With proper practice and cautioned training (Naur has exclusive safety precaution with fire extinguishers at stand-by all times), the art is just like dancing. Till now number of casualties at Naur is nil (other than burnt hair of course).
Naur is recently starting classes at Fridays from 6 pm to 8 pm. Teaching classes continue for two months with the fee of Tk.2,300 only! So sign up if you want to learn this fantastic art. Naur is completely informal and the fire nights (the night is which they spin fire… like duh!) are a time to hang out, learn and make new friends. Contact Parash at 0171-703-5257 or e-mail at naur@agni online.come for further info. You can also check out their website at www.naur.net for pictures of their performances and any upcoming events. For now, adieu!