’La Salamandre’

During this imaginary travel, through the expressive reality about fire manipulation, here is the moment to talk about the most innovative and impressive company of the last 20 years. They studied deeply the possibility to bring fire on stage and the more expressive way to do it.

 Since more than 10 years “La Salamandre” bring in their show different tools, today very common are fire-fan, fire skirt, fire-cup, watering can, fire-fall, fire-fog, flame garden……. 

So, this is the short interview with Christian and Jean Michelle, members of the company since the first moment.

Christiàn: All of us started in the '80s with different street show experiences, then in the '90s in Besançon the company lived the non official debut.
We were different artists living together in an ex monastery, a musician-jugglers-actor-dancer community. We created a little show for a house party and Jean Michelle had the idea to create a company.
In the first two years, guest of Chalon and Aurillac festivals, the company worked mainly on musical parades in Brazilian Batucada style,  wearing black and yellow costumes as salamandres. In '93 we used stilts for the show "Petit Peopl" and started to insert in our shows offers a tribal act
with fire and percussions. This show had a big outcome and in a short time brought us the invitation for Mastricht festival in Netherlands.
In the meantime more requests arrived for artistic cooperation. Directors and show agencies asked our presence,
in particular one in Italy which we worked for 10 years with. 

L.: Can you tell me something about the organizational structure of your company?

C.: None of us is the leader. The strength of the group is in the cooperation of single individuals who sometimes debate strongly.
We have a division of competences, music, acrobatics, philosophy... There are two main points, the first is not to have a lot of luggage to bring with us, 

the second one is to have on stage, possibly, the same number of male and female performers. We don't bring in show one particular discipline,
but we try to mix different expression possibilities. To do this we have part in many  stages about different arts: dance, theatre, clown, buto, tai-chi and chi-gong, percussions and balinese dance and to have a good melange we worked with Peter Brook to harmonize the group.

L.: And what about the study of flammable stuff?

C.: From 1995 until 2000 "La Salamandre" lived a period of big evolution about stuff research and scenic effects and tools creation.
Starting from pure ideas about scenic effects, we spent time with trying to find the safest and best possibility to let it come true.
Always being careful not to make our luggage too heavy. The experience in collaboration with Cirque Plume and his big stuff, 

drives us on the road of essentiality.

L.: Some advice for young fire lovers?

C.: Start studying the fire, which is the right behavior to interact in the correct phase of manipulation, then work on body and movements.
About this, we experimented the experience to be alone in the wood with a flame. Have look at how spontaneously we do in relationship with the fire.
Than meet the others and show them the results. In other words...find and bring the spirit of fire.

L.: How do you manage your time in common life?

C.: We have many weekly meetings about different themes, not only show repetitions.
Having the group a horizontal structure we have to talk about many things.
About the shows, for us it is important to create the structure of it only when we are on the spot.

L.: Last exhortations?

C.:First have an idea about the dimension of the things you are going to do.
Start with little flames and have an open spirit to serve the fire, never try to dominate it!
On stage the main actor will be always Him!
Pay lots of attention to metals, sand and at all the things that can easily become hot.
Obviously pay attention to wind and always have wet blankets with you .

The best way to put flames off is to remove oxygen by covering it.

If you throw water on it, a violent and unexpected reaction easily can follow. 

The floor should always stay cool and it's a must to know how to put the items off quickly you use on stage.
Despite being precautious we still have little accidents occasionally.  Luckily, we had a big trouble only once 

but nothing of too harmful.


Lucignolo/paolo mele