As teams of sculptors work to carve intricate pieces from blank canvases of snow, other artists will be lighting up the Breckenridge night sky with fiery demonstrations.
From flaming sculptures to free workshops, the second annual Fire Arts Festival will add another element of events alongside the International Snow Sculpture Competition. Presented by Breckenridge Creative Arts, the festival runs Thursday, Jan. 28 to Sunday, Jan. 31 from 5–9 p.m. each evening at the Breckenridge Arts District campus.
“What Breckenridge Creative Arts is about is providing creative experiences,” said Jenn Cram, director of public programs and engagement for Breckenridge Creative Arts. “We have all of these thousands of people here for snow sculptures, and we wanted to give them another taste of something exciting. And what is more exciting then fire? I think there is a little pyro in all of us.”
Five fire sculptures created by artists from around the West will be ignited at the top of the hour from 5–9 p.m. The artists are known on a national level, and many have had their work featured at various venues, including the Burning Man gathering in Nevada. Several of the kinetic pieces are interactive, requiring the crowd to get involved in its movement. With The Burning Pink Organ, by artists Jamie Vaida and Alvin Sessions, spectators can actually play the organ and be a part of the sculpture and a part of the performance, Cram said. Former Summit County resident and 10-year veteran of Burning Man, Keith D’Angelo, will be presenting a 7-foot high flaming sculpture called “Love.”
“They all have movement and sound and different things, so I think that people can expect to see some innovative new fire sculptures,” Cram said.
The Boulder-based circus collective Fractal Tribe will be doing multiple performances each day, as well as teaching free workshops during the festival. The group started around 2004 and is made up of individuals with a variety of skills in aerial acrobatics, fire spinning, hooping and juggling, as well as music, choreography and stage management, among other things.
“We had a different performing arts company last year, and so we are always looking to bring something new, something different,” Cram said. “They were selected because of their unique style and their experience of really creating a spectacle and engaging the community.”
For the Fire Arts Festival, Fractal Tribe will bring four or five members to perform and put on the workshops. Sven Jorgensen, performer and director with Fractal Tribe, said they will be doing a wide range of “fire performance skills to thrill and amaze and amuse and inspire the audience.”
“Everything from poi to swinging torches to fire jump rope,” he said. “Part of why Breck was interested in bringing our troupe up this year is because we have a strong acrobatic component using partner acrobatics in conjunction with fire manipulation.”
He’s a self-taught performer and juggler for the last 27 years. He said the highlight for him when it comes to performance is getting to interact with the audience.
“In live performance, there is a just purely magical energy that gets created between the performers and the audience,” he said. “It’s something you don’t get by watching a YouTube video, or even watching something of the caliber of Cirque du Soleil. If you watch that in video, it’s not the same as when you’re there, live with an audience. … So for me that’s always the highlight — to have the little kids come up after the show and want to shake your hand or get a high-five. … Just seeing that people are truly inspired and moved by what we are able to do onstage and just feeling their good will and being able to basically shine our love and affection towards them from the stage.”
All fire performances by Fractal Tribe are held on the half hour, starting at 6:30 p.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m.
There will be a variety of free workshops and fiery artistic demonstrations held throughout the four days. Local and regional artists will be demonstrating everything from lampworking, candle making, silversmithing and making essential oils and tea.
“We tried to light up all of our studios with the fire arts,” Cram said. “There will be a lot of different things for people to smell and see to kindle their inner fires.”
DJ Stretch from Denver will be spinning throughout the event, and all activities for the Fire Arts Festival take place in the studios and outdoor spaces within the Breckenridge Arts District campus, located on the corner of South Ridge Street and East Washington Avenue, just off of Main Street in downtown Breckenridge.
“When you put together an event like this, it’s wonderful to see how all the various artists interact together,” Cram said. “It’s fun for them to meet other sculptors that are working in that medium, to meet performers, and so it’s exciting for me to bring them all together and allow them to interact and share secrets and learn from one another. We are growing our artistic community for fire arts.”