Daredevil acrobatics — centered on blazing flames — are the highlight of Fireball, the hot event that will light up the Simon Estes Amphitheater this week.
Fireball, presented by the Des Moines Social Club, will feature headliner Flam Chen from Tucson, Ariz., and Midwest fire dancing troupe Pyrotechniq, with other special guests. The evening is an updated version of the Social Club’s popular Subjective Circus, its biggest annual fundraiser featuring out-of-the-box entertainment acts not commonly seen in the city.
Paul Weir, Flam Chen’s technical director, has worked with the performing art group since 1998 (the group formed in 1994). He met Zachary Mannheimer, director of the Des Moines Social Club, in New York City in 2000.
“We met at the International Fringe Festival,” Weir said. “We’ve kept in touch all these years, and as a result, we’re bringing Flam Chen to Des Moines, which is a special trip for us.”
“Flam Chen’s performances are the most innovative, unique and spectacle-driven I have ever seen in my life,” Mannheimer said. “Since I first saw their work nearly 12 years ago, I have never forgotten that experience. I can’t wait to see it again and share it with everyone in Des Moines.”
A hair-raising fundraiser
The event will span two nights, with performances each night from Flam Chen and Pyrotechniq. Weir said to expect a high-energy show from Flam Chen, with aerial dance, stilt walking, fire dancing and gymnastics all rolled into one during a different 45-minute performance each night.
Pyrotechniq, a fire troupe that has performed at the Subjective Circus for four years, is based primarily in Chicago and is considered to be one of the Midwest’s best fire- and belly-dancing troupes. It will open the show.
The show, called Rite of Spring, is a play on springtime animal ecosystems coming to life, Mannheimer said.
Giving back through performance
Weir said that Flam Chen’s focus turned to community involvement and education in 2003 following the Station nightclub fire in February, in which 100 people were killed during a pyrotechnic accident during a Great White show. Now the group not only performs, it also promotes its nonprofit effort, Many Mouths One Stomach, and teaches performing arts classes in Tucson.
“We were in Japan performing for one of the biggest crowds we had ever been in front of when we heard the news,” Weir said. “It was heartbreaking to hear about. We were on our way up, but that set us back. So we retracted our group and put a bigger focus on getting involved with the community, which has been rewarding.”
The mission of the Many Mouths One Stomach, a nonprofit collective of artists, teachers and community activists, is to fulfill core human needs. The group regularly performs at fundraising and nonprofit events that support the arts. Flam Chen also commits itself to education, outreach and collaboration, which is one reason the group is looking forward to performing in Des Moines to support the Social Club.
What: An acrobatic, fire-throwing pyrotechnic event in support of the Des Moines Social Club
When: Thursday and Friday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m.
Where: Simon Estes Amphitheater, 71 E. Locust St.
Tickets: $25 per day. $50 per day for VIP tickets, which include VIP seating, two drink tickets and a meet-and-greet with performers.