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Meet Dragon Breath Entertainment: the Kitchener performers who play with fire

“There's a small but hearty community of people here who like playing with fire,” said Dragon Breath owner Alysha Pantherophis

Kitchener local Alysha Pantherophis was travelling through Southeast Asia in 2015 with a collapsible hula hoop strapped to her backpack when she found herself in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. There, on the beach, she came across local Cambodian residents entertaining tourists with fire props. 

“It felt really exciting… I ended up kind of sticking around, performing on the beach for other tourists with fire for a bit, and then came back to Kitchener near the end of 2015,” she said. 

For years prior, Pantherophis had been hula hooping as her form of movement, which is similar to fire dancing, just without the fire, and was excited to learn that it was a popular activity there. 

She quickly fell in love with fire dancing and eventually launched the Dragon Breath Entertainment in 2019, a performance company that offers fire dancing, roving, and LED light shows. 

“Once I got back, I didn't really start anything in the area for a while, because with fire performing, it's never good to do it alone, and there wasn't really much of a scene for it here at the time,” she said. “So it was kind of a process of trying to figure out if there were other people around and how to create something.”

In February of 2018, she and a friend started a local community group called Tri City Flow, a weekly free movement event that attracted a lot of people who spun different props and did acroyoga, yoga that combines acrobatics. 

“It just kind of blossomed from there into a friend group [and] a community of people that also spun fire,” she said. “And so that exists also today outside of performing. Now, there's a small but hearty community of people here who like playing with fire.”

Pantherophis and two other performers started doing some small shows in the area, and soon realized there was a market for it.

“It was something that we love to do, and it didn't really exist around here. So we started Dragon Breath Entertainment at that time,” she said. 

But not long after their launch, the pandemic collapsed the entertainment industry, putting a damper on their ambitions to make it a full time gig. 

They did do a few performances throughout the height of the pandemic, but it really took off in July when capacity limits started to lift. Since then, Pantherophis says things have exploded for them, and they have been performing pretty much every weekend -- at everything from backyard cocktail parties to weddings to children’s events. 

Throughout October they have been performing every weekend at Fear Farm. 

As a relatively new business, she says their feedback from their performances has been really positive, and is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. 

“Sometimes the feedback that we get from young children just feels so inspiring to hear their excitement. It's just this very cool, heartwarming experience,” she said. 

So what does spinning fire feel like, for those of us who have never had that experience? 

For starters, she says it’s extremely loud. 

“The sound of fire moving is actually quite loud, which people don't really anticipate. So there's a lot of noise happening around me,” she said. 

“But there's this exhilarating calmness that also comes out of it, because both in practice and from viewing, it feels like this very beautiful, serene activity and profession, that of course, also has danger associated with it. But it is this exhilarating thing that I get to share with other people,” she said. 

You can learn more about Dragon Breath Entertainment on their website

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