Lit Up

Although fire-art exhibits have lost some of their sparkly fascination, fire-art apocalypses remain a potent lure. The Crucible’s Fire Arts Festival, set in a parking lot adjacent to the elevated tracks of the West Oakland BART station, remains one of the best. At last year’s show, when the sun went down and the flames got higher, even the de rigueur firefighters seemed to stand a little straighter. There were the usual threats: violently swinging fire objects, shooting flames, and, safely tucked into a corner, a stream of fireballs hurled into volunteers wearing fire suits, who were dancing (don’t expect a home version of Dance Dance Immolation any time soon). But there was also much beauty: One artist nursed a flame in a block of ice, resulting in a geothermic miracle. Onstage, dancers pressed industrial sanders against their metallic underwear, showering sparks. This year’s festival features a handful of performance groups each night on the main stage along with dozens of installations, including some we haven’t seen (such as the Steampunk Tree House and the Flamethrower Shooting Gallery) and one we can’t wait to see again: Nate Smith’s 40-foot-plus fire vortex.
July 9-12, 8 p.m., 2008

 
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