Playing with fire: Meet the daredevils of Cirque Adrenaline

Flame-wielding fire spinners, superhuman contortionists, high-flying trapeze artists acrobatic motorcyclists – enjoy a show of thrills and spills at Cirque Adrenaline in Abu Dhabi.

Expect some amazing performances from the Cirque Adrenaline fire spinners. Courtesy Alchemy Project.
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Roll up, roll up, a show coming to Abu Dhabi this month, takes traditional circus thrills to the extreme, with stunts so exciting and dangerous they more than justify the show's title – Cirque Adrenaline.

The show features a dizzying array of flame-wielding fire spinners, superhuman contortionists, tantalising trapeze artists and daredevil motorcyclists, performing acts on aerial silks, high bars or a wheel of death.

Cirque Adrenaline is produced by The Works Entertainment, based in Nevada, United States. The company is also behind the internationally acclaimed magic show The Illusionists, and Cirque Le Noir, which was staged in Dubai in March.

Cirque Adrenaline's 30-strong international troupe includes former aerobic champions and stars of Cirque du Soleil.

Between the thrilling, high-octane stunts, physical comedian Ross Steeves, from Los Angeles, says that as the resident clown he will give the audience a chance to recover and catch their breath with plenty of comic relief.

“We play some simple games and I even bring some people on stage with me”, he says. “Every performance is slightly different depending on the audience – my favourite aspect of any show is engaging with them.”

Steeves says clowns aren’t always full of hot air – though the highlight of his act does involve stepping inside a huge balloon.

He reveals that he enjoys clowning around offstage as well as on.

“Absolutely, I’m a mess, a fool – I figure I might as well go with it,” he says.

Audience adrenaline levels will peak during the show’s heart-racing fire act, he says, which is performed by Dai Zaobab, from Japan, who Steeves describes as being “like an ancient god of fire”.

“He does a fire act like I’ve never seen before,” he says.

Zaobab performs his daring stunts with a fire rope, “to create a beautiful speedy fire”, he explains. “And I finish on a big flame.”

But playing with fire does not always go according to plan.

“One of my accidents was in South Africa in 2007,” says Zaobab. “I was using steel wool for my act. It was completely my fault – I spooned fire into my body and melted metal came to my body and face. Some steel wool stuck to my face and I got burnt. It was very painful and took a few years for my face to recover.”

Despite the ever-present dangers, Zaobab says his fiery act is rarely a cause for fear.

“But if something I am not expecting happens with fire, then that makes me afraid.”

He says he learnt how to juggle with fire during a backpacking trip to England in 1999, when he was 21.

“I couldn’t speak English and I wandered aimlessly through London, sleeping in parks for two months, before being shaken awake and driven out by police on horses,” he says.

“Then I was introduced to the world of juggling and fire dancing. This discovery changed in my life in a big way. I was always looking for some new toy or interest, and when I discovered juggling, I couldn’t stop playing. I just like how I manipulate the object through my body.”

Zaobab has his own special way of psyching himself up to go on stage.

“I do push-ups to pump up my body to make a good shape,” he says. “That makes me excited to be on stage with high energy.”

• Cirque Adrenaline is at Al Raha Theatre in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, from 4pm to 5.30pm and 8pm to 9.30pm, and Friday from 3pm to 4.30pm and 7pm to 8.30pm. Dh95 to Dh195.