Stunning audiences in all settings and scenarios with her courageous and jaw-dropping multiple firehoop routines, this Oakland-based original caught our eye! She's witty, she's skilled, she's daring and she does it all with a smile and an open heart. So when it came down to choosing a new face for Synergy Firehoops for 2011, the choice was simple.
As an art, firehooping has evolved in rapid, and incredible ways. Three years ago at the first Hoop Convergence, there were very few people who dared to rock doubles. Now ladies like Revolva step up to the stage to push the boundaries of multiples. One on each limb, the dancers weave and wobble their way in gymnastically-inclined positions with a fluidity and grace never seen before on fire. We don't know how this fire idol does it, but she gives us some clues into her sassy world in this interview hot off the press.
Enjoy, and may this inspire and delight you in firey flow!
I’m originally from Detroit. A lot of people have seen the recent Detroit Fire Guild video, featuring so many talented spinners. Back in the day, though, there was only one Detroit fire troupe, Fire Fabulon, with maybe 10 people in it. This amazing ninja TimTv was the head honcho, and he hosted a circus night (also for non-fire tools) at a dojo that he ran. I started going to Fire Fabulon practices with my regular hoops around 2004, and sometime shortly thereafter, KC from Chicago built a fire hoop for me. I spun it for the first time outside TimTv’s dojo. The size of the flames was so shocking that I just held it around my waist for a moment, frozen. Someone yelled, “Revolva, spin it or you’ll catch your shirt on fire!” So basically, that’s how I got my start: trying not to catch my shirt on fire.
It was around 38” and made out of metal tubing. The spokes were roughly 6” long. It was heavy as hell (as fire hoops were back in those days). I loved it! In fact, I still have it. I’ve often thought about selling it, but no one wants a hoop that heavy anymore, and it feels like an important artifact from my past.
I find fire transformative. If I’m struggling with something, I’ll often write about it – and then burn the paper. It can bring such a release watching solid thoughts shift into smoke and rise into the air. The fire hoop (as opposed to other fire spinning prop) is a really special tool because the hooper can be completely encircled by flames. The center of a fire tornado is a magic, empowering place to be. I’ve had transcendent experiences with fire.
I was hooping at an event called Last Thursday in Portland. Let me preface this by saying it’s not common for a prop to get so far away from me, but I accidentally lost grip on one of my hoops, and it rolled for a ridiculous distance, right into the crowd. Specifically, it rolled right into two small children. I’m imagining this now, and I feel like it all happened in slow motion. I was running after it, and they were wide-eyed and screaming. I grabbed it just as it got to them and stopped my act, to make sure they were okay. When I walked back out to the center, I thought, “Geeze, I don’t want them to go home feeling traumatized.” So I wound up playing to those two kids for the rest of the act. I was saluting them, and pointing their way, and I dedicated my multiple hoop finale to them. When I finished, I ran over and gave them both high fives – and they were cheering, laughing and totally ecstatic. I hope they went to school the next day and said, “A fire hoop rolled into us. It was AWESOME!”
I have four 25” fire hoops made out of ½” irrigation tubing. They are covered in black gaffer’s tape and silver sparkly tape, and they have 1” wicks. I got them from Cosmic Fire Hoops (one half of what is now Synergy). I also had two non-taped 34” polypros, for single and multiple moves that require larger hoops. As a note to fire hoopers, I’ve found that polypro tubing requires more care, especially if it’s not taped. My four smaller hoops have been through the wringer. Due to the tubing and the fact that they’re covered with tape, they have survived the mega-flame that results from holding them all together for a moment as I place them on each body part.
At Fire Drums this year, I also borrowed 6 quick wicks from Emma Kerr (they actually belonged to Steve Bags – thanks Bags!) and made two extra 25” hoops. So I was able to pull off SIX at once. Picture holding SIX fire hoops together briefly and how much flame that would create. They STILL survived. I like the lightness of the 34” naked polypro for core moves and less-flame-intensive off-body work, but I think I’ll always want the multiple minis to be taped.
This year, on a lark, I entered “Fire Idol” at Burning Man. And I won. That’s the first time a hooper won, and I did it with Synergy Fire hoops. (True story.) I also found out later that I was the first woman to win. I was sitting at the Spin Cycle Camp earlier in the night, talking to Spiral and Rich. I had never seen “Fire Idol” before, and they were saying, “The judges and the crowd heckle the contestants, and you have to spin to totally weird music, like 80s and death metal. And this year, it’s being held in the Thunderdome!” They were saying it as if it were a turn-off, but I thought, “That sounds insane – and possibly right up my alley!”
The contest doesn’t just hinge on technical skill. You have to have some performance mojo to survive the silly conditions. But it was definitely a favorite moment to win because I sometimes don’t feel that hoopers are taken seriously enough in the larger “tech” spinning community. I was happy to survive the contest past all the other props – and to have at least one year of Fire Idolitry belong to the hoop community!
I’m trying to up the ante with more hoops (like mastering the 6 hoop arabesque on fire). But I’m also just trying to keep a little hilariousness alive out there. I concentrate on theatrics and character a lot in my non-fire numbers, and I want to continue doing more of that on fire.
Photos by Taymar LaRue
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