Fire dancer Dai Zaobab has risen to the top with his spec­tac­u­lar cir­cus rou­tine but his as­cent hasn’t been with­out its hic­cups

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS - JODIE MUNRO O’BRIEN

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.

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