Cirque de Fuego bringing fire show to Bristol on Dec. 23

BRISTOL — Bristol will be ablaze next Friday evening with fire spinners, fire breathers and lots and lots of candles. But don’t worry, it’s all perfectly safe. Cirque de Fuego, a husband and wife team from Jericho, will be doing all the fancy fire art at Lumen: Bristol’s Celebration of Fire and Light on Dec. 23. (See related story).
Kim and Chris Cleary started out by making their own fire arrows in 2013, and have explored and expanded their skills as “burners.”
“I perform with fire fans, palm torches, double staff, and fire poi (balls of fire at the end of chains),” explained Kim.
“Primarily, I am a fire breather,” said Chris. “I also spin a fire rope dart (an ancient martial arts weapon adapted with a fire wick).”
Right. Well, that’s not something you hear from two 40-year-old parents everyday.
To learn these skills Chris and Kim found out about a fire arts camp called Wildfire in Connecticut, where they could learn flow arts and fire spinning. “It’s a three-day intensive of workshops,” explained Chris. “They teach you about safety, legality, insurance, how to move with fire inside…” Beyond that it’s a place to connect with other burners.
The other obvious place to connect with burners is Burning Man, in Black Rock City, Nev.
“I first went to Burning Man in 2009 as part of the crew of a large scale art car known as The Time Cycle (essentially a Ferris Wheel that could drive around the desert),” said Chris. “It’s hard to put into words what Burning Man is like, because it’s different for everyone. Imagine a temporary city filled with incredible art installations (both moving and stationary), lots of lights, color and fire. That only begins to touch on what Burning Man is. It’s also a community of some of the most brilliant and determined makers and artists that I’ve ever seen.”
This year, Kim and Chris went to Burning Man and performed in the Fire Conclave with Incineration Congregation (a Boston, Mass. Group of 35 selected performers).
“Burning Man charges my batteries as an artist,” said Chris. “I was influenced in a way that made me want to create that kind of community here.”
Chris became the Burning Man Regional Contact for Vermont in 2015. Burners in Vermont (and surrounding areas) can be part of the Green Mountain Burners ? a group of about 672 members. The couple also hosts their own burning festival in Bolton called Zenith on the Summer Solstice. “It’s our way of glueing our community together, and getting everyone up to speed with what’s happening at Burning Man headquarters in San Francisco.”
“We also host fire spin jam groups,” added Kim. “We met a handful of people and started these groups; over the years it’s grown.”
The fire spin jams are usually held weekly over the summer in the Cleary’s back yard. The groups are open to anyone. Newcomers get a full run-down on props, fueling and safety.  “It’s a skill share group,” said Kim. “We all learn from each other.”
Next Friday, the Clearys, Tiffany Cross and Olin Davis will be performing for about a half-hour in Bristol. Depending on the temperature and the weather, you can expect to see fire breathing, dancing with fire props, fire eating, fire rope art, fire hooping and palm torches.
The Clearys will not be burning a sculpture like they do at Zenith xand other burns. Chris and Kim also run a stone sculpting business that influences Chris’ burn designs. “I’ve found that the ephemeral aspects of fire fills in the voids of the permanence of stone,” he said.
Chris is the son of John Cleary, owner of stone re-saler Cleary Stone. Chris picked stone sculpting up in 1998.
“I’m mostly self taught, but learned the basics from working with my father’s stone company,” said Chris. “I’ve also taken classes through the West Rutland Carving Studio.”
Chris started building burn sculptures  in April 2011, after being inspired from what he saw at Burning Man and wanting to bring that style of art to Vermont. “I’ve created 30 total sculptures that have burned,” said Chris.
“Fire draws people in,” said Kim. “It’s mysterious and dangerous, yet has a beautiful illuminating glow and warmth. Moving with fire adds even more romance to this element.”
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