Confessions of a Pyro Performer
Pyro performer on her love for her art and gaining friends through her job
Her eyes light up whenever she talks about fire.
"I have never felt scared of fire. I am always very excited to see fire," said Ms Lizzie You, a pyro performer who also runs a perfume store.
Ms You works with fire, using props such as the levitation wand, hula hoop, poi, fans and swords. She listens to the sound of the fire for guidance during performances, as if it is alive.
The performer recounts that she once got a cut on her eyelid after an upward toss due to a prop malfunction.
Ms You's journey as a pyro performer started 10 years ago by chance.
She was roped into preparing for a half-hour performance at Esplanade Outdoor Theatre when she was hanging out with her friends at Haji Lane.
The 38-year-old has been involved in the Singapore Night Festival for the past five years. She also makes costumes for her team.
This year, her group, Starlight Alchemy, has built an installation titled Ember Rain for the festival, which runs from Aug 17 to Aug 25.
The installation is the tallest one they have embarked on, with a height of almost 5m and a diameter of 6m.
The structure, inspired by the Chinese Garden, is a symbol of healing. It requires audience members to pedal a bicycle to power the installation.
The moving parts are hidden, giving off the magical effect of an ember rain naturally falling.
The structure is of galvanised steel, a tough material. Over the past two months, Ms You went through three pairs of work gloves and sustained minor cuts.
The early days of the pyro performer's career burned a hole in her pocket too, as there is limited financial support for such artist groups in Singapore.
Ms You used to keep all her props at home because there was insufficient space in their previous workshop.
The group has to perform at commercial shows to fund themselves.
But the pyro performer acknowledges that the job is rewarding. She has met many lifelong friends on this journey.
Ms You recalls a 13-year-old boy who used to join her past performances at beaches. She has watched him grow into an adult and a skilled pyro performer over the years.
She feels that this art form requires her to constantly learn on the job.
Ms You said: "I wish pyro performing was a hobby and career more people would consider in future. We are lucky to be in an age today where alternative art forms are recognised. Young artists are free to be creative these days."
Secrets of the trade
- Always be prepared for the unexpected during performances.
- Put in enough time and effort into learning the art of fire from professionals. Fire is definitely not the first element novices should work with.
- Sharing is the best way for personal growth and innovation. The community has different skills and knowledge you can learn from.