HEAT OF MOMENT
Fire dancer Dai Zaobab has risen to the top with his spectacular circus routine but his ascent hasn’t been without its hiccups
Deep breaths. Remember, it’s gasoline not paraffin, so be careful, Dai Zaobab thinks to himself backstage. This is it. He runs out on to the stage to face the 400strong crowd in Spain.
The fire spinner and breather from Japan would never normally use gasoline, but his lack of Spanish and limited English put him at a disadvantage in 2000 as he scoured the town looking for paraffin to buy.
All stores came up empty, but the then 22-year-old was not about to cancel his biggest gig yet at a large festival in his short career.
Against his better judgment, Zaobab (who’s real name is Dai Murata) had already poured some petrol into his mouth when he lit his pois and started his act, spinning them around and around.
The fire twirling was going well, but soon, both his act and his body were on fire.
“My fire poi touched my mouth and ignited the gasoline in my mouth,” the now 38-year-old recalls.
“It was becoming a big flame on my face and my chest, and the gasoline was leaking from my mouth.”
Zaobab, who is now a professional fire dancer, but no longer a fire breather, was hospitalised overnight and left resembling an “Egyptian mummy” due to his bandages.
Since then Zaobab has performed worldwide including for the prince of Saudi Arabia.
He performed at the Woodford Folk Festival in 2010 and this time returns to Brisbane as part of Cirque Adrenaline next week.
Zaobab says his fire dancing act will involve four different types of fire effects, from sparks to blue fire.
Many of the show’s 30strong troupe are former stars of Cirque du Soleil.
The others have been selected from among the world’s best circuses.
Fire dancer Dai Zaobab will perform in Cirque Adrenaline in Brisbane next week.