Photo by Carly Jakubowski

We recently met Lara Beth Jones, a licensed occupational therapist by day and fire dancer by night. Like you, we had a lot of questions. She was nice enough to answer them. We’ve edited her responses a bit for length and clarity.

Q: How did you get into fire dancing?

My love story with fire began when I spent several years after college as a wildland firefighter in Oregon, Montana, and Arizona. There, I became intimately comfortable with fire as an element, as well as handling fuels. Plus, I’ve always loved to dance.  I knew it was time for me to integrate fire and dance when I was visiting friends in northern California a few years ago and saw the equipment some fire dancers were using there.  It was a natural synthesis of interests for me and the universe provided me with a mentor who helped me with my first ignition. I’ve found it to be really fun and empowering way to express myself!

Q: What type of training did you have to do?

 I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be mentored by a very talented circus professional who taught me about the technical aspects, from working with fuels, movement, and of course, safety and situational awareness! There’s a lot to keep in mind when performing and countless hours spent practicing.  For me personally, I think the experience wildland firefighting freed me from any fear of fire to a place of respect, appreciation, and admiration for this element.  I also draw inspiration from the various styles of dance classes I’ve taken since I was about 5.

Q: How long have you been doing this?

I’ve been practicing fire dance specifically for about three years now.  

Q: Have you been burned?

No, thank Goddess! I have definitely singed the hair on my arms a few times … totally worth it.

Q: What’s the scariest part?

I have long hair and at first I had some anxiety about burning it. Now I just tie it in a low bun in the back and light her up!

Q: Where have you performed?

Streets, parking lots, driveways, front yards, backyards … I’ve mostly performed for friends and at parties. A great thing about this as an art form is I can keep my stuff in my Subaru and take it anywhere, it travels easily.  

Q: How did you end up in Southern Pines?

I was born and raised in Wilmington, and I moved to Southern Pines after I visited some friends here and saw how cool and laid back of a town it is.  I liked the people, the natural aesthetic, and the small-town Southern charm just an hour away from the triangle.  

Q: What is your hope for your future?

Fire dance is magical and it has the ability to elevate the energy at a party or function, to shift the mood towards more fun. I’m adventurous and I love to meet new people!

Want to turn up the heat at your event? Lara can be reached at 910-612-4330 or Lbjones1@gmail.com

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