Justice of Dragons, Stacy Redstar, and Kristen Zyra are creating a world
where people don't punch clocks. Instead, they touch fire. It's a realm where
defying gravity pays the bills, and manipulating objects promotes
healing. No, this is not a round of Dungeons and Dragons; these people are aerial
and fire performers, and this is their reality. At the fourth annual Camp
Fire retreat this month, you're invited to play too.
will host the performance-art workshop weekend at Harmony Park June
15 through 18.
Four years ago, Redstar and friends modeled the Midwest's first
fire-arts festival after Wild Fire on the East Coast and Fire Drum on the West
Coast. The idea was -- and still is -- to expand the art of
object manipulation in movement-based performances by
bringing together people of all skill levels and disciplines. From its small origins at the historic Pachyderm recording
studio, the retreat now draws over 180 people. The event is non-spectator, and all folks attending are asked to learn, share,
Participants can choose from around 100 workshops with opportunities to
meditate, climb aerial silk fabric, and hula with multiple hoops. But
because most of the workshops are based in fire art, everyone is
required to attend a safety class the first evening. These arts are
relatively new to mainstream accessibility, so organizers of conferences
like Camp Fire are writing the canon on safety regulations. "It's
really caught on, and there are a lot of people picking it up from
YouTube and buying toys online, but we really wanted to bring safety to
it," says Redstar. "One person not following safe practices creates an
issue for all of us." As another measure of safety, participants agree
to stay completely sober for the entire weekend.
Justice sees the seemingly unlikely convergence of things like break
dancing and spinning poi (tethered weights set on fire and spun) as a
way of to introduce practices, and to potentially blend and expand those
arts. "One of the best jugglers I know isn't just a juggler. He does
contact juggling, break dance, body balance, and acrobatics," he says.
"If it wasn't for the other stuff, his show wouldn't be nearly as
amazing. We're always trying to be open to what the next thing is to
Another thought behind Camp Fire is the personal advancement it offers practitioners. "Yeah, you're playing with toys, but you're also controlling your body," Zyra says. "You're training your body to do exactly what you tell it to do. I've definitely seen people grow as individuals just from being in that community and refining their skills."
Redstar encourages people who are new to the community to attend for the
same reason. Before she started, she was insecure and clumsy. "Playing
with the toys actually created a lot of healing for me," she says. "I
found myself getting graceful and moving with ease. That was really
exciting." Also, first-time exposure to aerial and fire performance has
"blown a lot of minds. People who have never seen it before, it can
bring some magic into their lives," she says.
Money from ticket sales provides camping, food (snacks and two locally-sourced organic meals per day from a part wind/part solar-powered truck), and a few travel stipends. Vendors will sell fire-art materials and fire-safe clothing on site as a convenience for newbies. Though organizers survive on their performance skills in daily life, none will take home money from Camp Fire.
They hope to someday gain a nonprofit 501c3 title, which would make grant-writing and space rental easier. For now, organizers are happy with the rapid progress the festival workshop has seen. Redstar says the growth is born of feedback from participants, and "from our own dreams and aspirations of what we want to bring to the crew of really creating a deep community."IF YOU GO:
More information at www.campfireretreat.com
$120 (at this date you can no longer purchase tickets online. However, you can buy tickets at the door with cash only)
79503 298th St., Clarks Grove, MN