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The Burning Dawn: Trial by fire

By Staff | Mar 26, 2015

From fire breathing to fire fans, fire swallowing and incredible rhythms, the Burning Dawn Fire Troupe has been wowing audiences in the Mid-Ohio Valley and beyond for right around 10 years.

Founder Wess Apshaga-Meaux said the idea came from a friend who lived in Hawaii for some time and learned the trade of fire spinning.

“I saw him do it one time and I had to do it,” said Apshaga-Meaux. “I got a couple lessons and the rest is lots of practice.”

He decided he had to turn it into something bigger.

“(I love it) very simply because it’s fire,” he said. “The whole idea to manipulate an element, there’s a certain amount of danger involved. It excites me and it’s very pretty.”

After experimenting around, Apshaga-Meaux got together with long-time friend Brett Anderson to get some musical additions to the fire performance.

“Brett and I have been friends for quite a few years,” he said. “He is a percussionist and I needed musical accompaniment. I thought, ‘I know who to ask.’ He and I have been doing it for just about 10 years.

Amanda Bunner joined the troupe in 2012. Apshaga-Meaux met her through mutual friends.

“She’s a belly dancer; I decided she’d be a good fit as well,” he said.

Bunner does poi – a type of performance art, fire fans and fire fingers with a dancing routine.

“In belly dancing, I tend to gravitate toward camp fires,” she said. “I thought, ‘if I’m dancing, I’ll take fire with me.”

The part she loves the most is the hustle mixed with slower tempos, but the element continues to draw her.

“I really enjoy playing with fire and hanging out with friends,” said Bunner. “It’s a good time all the way around.”

Brianna Bodie does fire swallowing for the troupe and said the hardest part was “being confident enough to go out and do it.”

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she added.

The danger involved is very real.

“Burns happen frequently, but not as much anymore,” said Apshaga-Meaux. “There are so many things that can go wrong instantly.”

Apshaga-Meaux typically breathes fire, and has had some problems before.

“If you have hiccups, it’s a trip to the ER,” he said. “I’ve swallowed fuel. I called the poison control center. There’s always danger of the fire traveling up the stream and into your face.”

Anderson said at anytime things could go fatally wrong.

“If it’s done improperly, it can kill, certainly,” he said.

The danger drives the group forward, but friendship and the unique draw to and love of fire hold them together.

“We each have our own specialty,” said Anderson. “Wess is the guru of all of it, Brianna does the fire eating and Amanda does the fire fingers and works belly dancing into it quite well. Like a band, we do (a show) trick by trick and person by person. Each show is a little different; each one is a unique experience.”

From entertaining for oil and gas companies to local venues, ski resorts and even cruises, there are many things in the works for the troupe.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Apshaga-Meaux.

The Burning Dawn Fire Troupe

can be found at www.theburningdawn.com/ or www.facebook.com/pages/The-Burning-Dawn/102055863166634.