Should I Dance or Crew at the Fire Dance?
- Posted May 3
- By Brett Almond
- Iceland Fire Dance
If you come to the Fire Dance you will either be a dancer or a crew member. Typically there might be twice as many crew members as dancers, but this can vary from dance to dance.
The dance is held outside on the hillside, below Mount Esjan. And from here you overlook the ocean. The dance takes place in an “arbor”, which is a designated large circular space. The dancers will camp at the edge of this space from the Friday afternoon and will stay within this area unless going to the bathroom. Also within this circle are five fires that will burn from Friday to Sunday. The energy builds throughout the weekend. When the drums are playing the Fire Dancers will dance. There is plenty of rest in this dance also. The rest is as important as the dancing as it allows you to ground what you are bringing in. And at night you sleep.
The dancers fast from food and water from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning. As your sugar and salt levels lower, the fires burn, you move your body in whatever way comes to you, the drums play and you go on a journey to the deepest and the highest parts of yourself. What you no longer need is burnt away and new awareness comes in.
Some say that we decide to dance before we are born. So when you hear about the dance you may just know in your heart you are meant to be there. In order to dance you do not need to have any prior training. You can jump straight in. You will be watched over the entire time as there is a whole team of people ready to be there for you.
The “crew” consist of Dance Guardians, Drummers, Fire Keepers, Fire Mothers and Fathers, Wisdom Keepers, Kitchen Crew and the Chief. And they are all there to create a safe ceremonial place for you to dance. A more detailed explanation of each role is at the end of this document. The “Chief” will work in tune with the dance and listen to guidance when appointing people to a certain positions within the crew.
If you arrive at the dance site and you suddenly realise you are meant to dance, this is okay if there are places left in the arbor. If you think this is a possibility for you It is helpful to bring the items that you might need to dance, “just in case”.
This dance is open to everyone of all faiths and beliefs.
Much gratitude to you for your courage and determination to be in Service to the Fire Dance! A Medicine Dance is not a simple thing to do. Spirit requires much of us who say YES! I am honored to have you present at the Fire Dance Arbor. It is not always easy to be on the outside of the Dance Arbor holding the sacred space for others to do the work. Each support position is vital to the Ceremony from the Dance Guardians to the Kitchen Angels to the Chief. Serving the Fire Dance will change your life.It will change the planet. You are a powerful FORCE!” - Robbie, Otter Woman Standing
If you dance then you are about to go on a wonderful journey. As you go on this journey you will be seen and treated as the sacred being that you are. You will even be asked to wrap yourself in a white sheet (as a symbol of protection) when you leave the dance arbor to go to the bathroom. Also we will ask the crew not to look you directly in the eyes once the ceremony starts, as we don’t want to break your journey.
There are many varied positions in which to serve at a Fire Dance. The Chief listens to guidance from Spirit and sees where people are meant to serve, but having said that it is still important to let the Chief know if you feel called to one position more than another.
"What I have learned as Chief is that it is not up to me to place people in the positions of service. It is always up to Spirit. As we approach the time for the Dance I will sit with Spirit and allow the guidance to come through. My hope is that the people who feel called to crew will not hold any attachment to what position they serve in. I think the bigger picture is that we all serve the Dance and Mother Earth in whatever way Spirit asks. Much Gratitude!” - Robbie, Otter Woman Standing
There is a wonderful power in serving at a Fire Dance. It is a journey with our tribe, serving spirit and the dancers. There are no passive roles and we ask everyone to be present for each dance round and above all to look after and to care for one another as we serve.“
Dance Guardians - The Dance Guardians literally guard the energy of the dance. You manage and nurture the outside energy of the dance so that the dancers can feel safe on the inside to do their work. You will rattle, sing, help the dancers settle into their space, watch over the dancers at night, “guard” the dancers between rounds and guide the dancers if they need to leave the arbor. Sometimes a dancer will enter a place of spiritual surrender and may fall to the ground in grace. The Dance Guardians, using a white sheet, will lovingly and gently carry that dancer back to their space in the arbor. When the dance guardians are working well the dancers feel safe. Please bring a rattle if you can. The Chief Dance Guardian will coordinate this team.
Fire Keepers – There are five fires in the Fire Dance and there is a Fire Keeper for each individual fire. They hold the spirit of the fire and the energy each fire represents. Each fire represents something different. The East fire is the releasing fire, the South fire is the soothing fire. The West fire is a Call to Action Fire. North is the Guardians Fire. And the central fire is the Spirit Fire. Each fire has a specific herb by them that can be offered by dancers as they dance to give them connection to each fire. A Fire Keeper will not work directly with dancers so much.
Drummers - For each dance there is a team of drummers. The drum beats carry the dancers. The “Drum Chief” leads the rhythm. A steady beat is important but there can be many different rhythms around this main beat. There may be rattles and other instruments too. The Dance Guardians may also be rattling. The Drum Team drum from their heart. They also sing and keep the rhythm that “carries” the Dancers. They help with night watch too.
Kitchen Angels - The Kitchen Angels hold the heart of the dance and nourish and nurture the crew with their cooking and food. They prepare food from Friday until the feast on Sunday. You will be a team and you will be at the heart of the dance. And you will basically be worshiped for the work you do! As well as preparing food the Kitchen Angels will also work with the energy of the dance by preparing spirit plates, smudging the kitchen and working as a prayerful team. We say the Crew actually eats for the Dancers who are fasting so the love put into the preparation of the food has a direct effect on the crew as well as the Dancers. The person who leads the kitchen we call the “Kitchen ArchAngel”.
Fire Mother / Fire Father – The Fire Mothers and Fire Father stand inside the dance circle (dance arbor) with the dancers as they dance. The Fire Mothers hold the feminine space and the Fire Fathers hold the masculine space. They watch the dancers as they dance and they are solely there for the welfare of the dancers. And they work directly with the dancers. They will often use a feather fan when working with a dancer’s energy. They are there to encourage, to lend support, push a little if needed, or to give you space to do your own thing, to laugh, to cry with you and to love you and stand beside you. They also look out for the dancer’s physical health.
Wisdom Keepers - The Wisdom Keepers of the Dance sit at the edge of the arbor and hold the space of the ancient ones and the ancestors. They also help with night watch and watching the gate in between rounds. The may sometimes work with a specific dancer if the Chief asks them. For a lot of the dance rounds they may be sitting or standing at the edge of the arbor, watching, singing, supporting. But they are doing an important job in giving a place for a wider Wisdom to be contained within the dance.
Chief – The Chief is the leader of the dance and Keeper of the Fire Dance Vision. They watch over everything to create a sacred space and sacred ceremony so that the dancers can do whatever work it is they came to do. They will have spent months coordinating, doing ceremony in advance of the dance for the dance, putting the crew together and setting the intention for the dance. They will be in personal contact with each of the teams and the team leaders. They will work with spirit and read when dance rounds stop and start and will literally adjust the pace of the dance to adjust whatever is going on in the arbor.
All crew will be asked at various points in the dance to help watch over the dancers in breaks and at night.