Fire and ice don’t usually mix – but they did just that at the Downtown Dartmouth Ice Festival, with a flaming display that was a sharp contrast to the ice sculptures and street curling.

With brightly-painted faces, swishing skirts and torches ablaze, Mizz Anthrope (Rachael Penny) and Lumen Lux (Lumen Baines) dazzled onlookers outside Alderney Landing with their fiery antics.

They showed their skills in fire manipulation, fire breathing and fire eating. Crowds ooh’d and ahh’d while watching orange and yellow flames dance around Lumen Lux’s head, or disappear down the throat of Mizz Anthrope.

The pair was performing for Halifax-based Luminosity Circus and in late January they sat down with The Signal, between shows, to share their love for the art form.

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Mizz Anthrope, a fire performer and aerialist who also co-owns the troupe, said Luminosity Circus is “designed to bridge the gap between being a circus student, going to one of the circus schools like Halifax Circus, and becoming a professional performer.”

Mizz Anthrope and Lumen Lux
caption This kind of stunt requires years of practice, and uses special fuel.
Gabrielle Drapeau

Running away to join the circus is a lot more complicated than it sounds.

Taylor Thain, another Luminosity Circus co-owner, said there’s a lack of opportunity for individuals looking to start a career in the performing arts.

“It’s very hard to get hired as a performer if you haven’t had opportunities before,” said Thain. “But it’s also very expensive and daunting to strike out on your own, so we’re hoping to subsidize some costs.”

Aspiring performers get in touch with Thain and Penny to discuss their skills. When Luminosity secures a gig, the co-owners reach out to people with the right skill set. Thain says Luminosity is “not necessarily a circus as much as a performing-arts agency.”

Lumen Lux is one such artist.

After four years as a professional fire performer, Lux says working with Luminosity helps to avoid some big costs.

Working with a group also helps ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Mizz Anthrope and Lumen Lux
caption Luminosity Circus artists need to consider space, weather and surroundings, all while keeping an eye on the flames.
Gabrielle Drapeau

“Everything we do is all about safety,” said Lux. “Especially with our patrons watching as well: having the pylons out, making sure people are back, cuz the last thing we want is for a person to get hurt.”

Performers need to consider space, weather and surroundings, all while keeping an eye on the flames dancing along their bodies.

It’s a lot of preparation for a 15-minute show. Lux said entertainment and wonder lie at the heart of the fire performance.

“I think fire’s a beautiful art,” said Lux. “I think everyone should get a chance to see it.”

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