Watanabe spins fire, inspired by father


Submitted Wraven Watanabe

Junior Wraven Watanabe has been spinning at various art festivals for three years. Her inspiration to start came from her father, who is also a fire spinner.

Claire Bai, Assistant News Editor

Junior Wraven Watanabe has been practicing fire spinning for three years, performing for hundreds of people at various art festivals.

Watanabe mainly spins fire levi wand, which is a vertical rod with two wicks on both ends and a string attached to the middle that she holds onto as she spins. Occasionally, she spins fire poi as well, which are two balls of fire on tethers with one for each hand.

“Fire spinning is playing with fire,” Watanabe said. “There are many different props that you can spin and I’m comfortable with what I do, but when I get outside my comfort zone, it can get very scary.”

Because the winter weather is too cold, Watanabe does not currently practice. However, in the spring and summer, Watanabe will practice spinning fire once every other week. 

She also attends and performs at various art festivals, including Firefly Arts Collective and North East Connecticut Regional Ember Burn. Though it can be nerve-wracking to perform in front of hundreds of people, Watanabe is able to stay calm. 

“Once I get into a good zone and get comfortable, then I can just spin and forget about everything else,” Watanabe said.

Because her father, Hideki Watanabe, spins fire as well, Watanabe has known about fire spinning her entire life. However, she only started learning how to spin fire three years ago.

“I always watched my dad from afar, and it was never something I wanted to do, but one day, it just clicked,” Watanabe said.

Hideki Watanabe is overjoyed that she is following in his footsteps but is also aware of the dangers of fire spinning.

“I wanted her to desire it for herself, so now that she has chosen to go down this path, I am very happy about it,” Hideki Watanabe said. “Unlike a concerned parent fearing the unknown, I am acutely aware of the dangers of fire spinning, but I am also aware of how props behave. The way I move and the way Wraven moves are highly controlled.”

On the flip side, Wraven Watanabe was also able to rekindle her father’s own passion for fire spinning with her enthusiasm, inspiring him to practice and perform more frequently.

“As I have been spinning fire for over a decade, I find myself practicing and performing less, but Wraven’s interest has re-sparked my own involvement,” Hideki Watanabe said. “In this case, it is the child who is inspiring the parent.”