In the last several years I had the chance to visit some firefestivals around the world as an invited artist and workshop leader. I enjoyed so much to meet lots of people who have the same passion. One of the most interesting, wild and extreme fiery gathering was the Kiev Fire Festival. It is the meeting of the fire people from the eastern post-communist countries and lots of international artists from all around the world. I made and interview with my friend Kupava Chernenko, who is the main organizer of the festival with Nushka Morozova.

How did the Kiev Fire Fest start?

Like most of creative ideas, the idea about KFF came when we were talking in the kitchen in the spring of 2007. But, despite of the many difficulties at the start – it was fulfilled, and so the KFF was created and organized by 2 of us - Kupava and Nushka Morozova. The first festival was an experiment - we held it in the centre of Kiev with an audience of 2000 people! KFF immediately became an international festival - At the first festival there where theaters from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, but such sings as CAMP and special guests where only in plans, so all workshops were held right on the stage before the audience! The festival has attracted corresponding attention - photographers and media reacted quite fast to this extraordinary event.


What is the fire community in Ukraine, and especially in Kiev like?

In Ukraine, 6 years ago there where no such fire community. In big cities there were a small amount of people who was spinning and it was a great time - we got together to spin and learn, share videos and share our experience. Fire theaters existed at that time could have been counted on the fingers of one hand :)
From year to year, particularly through the KFF, more and more fire artists appeared , theaters have grown professionally and at the present time the level of fire show in Ukraine is very high. Many Internet resources appeared in Ukrainian sector, fireshow became popular in show business and, in accordance with it, the amount of artists has grown. Now, there are about 20 groups in Kiev that work in fire genre, the number in Ukraine exceeds 50, even in small cities (15 cities) -http://firefest.info/fireshow-in-ukraine.htm. On the other hand it creates a competition – that is a great stimulus for growth! 4 fire-schools have opened since 2008. Our fire community regularly hold spinning evenings which attract photographers. At this moment we have multiple stores of professional props for fire show that also appear on KFF on KFF Props Fair. Mass media and press write and film about life of Ukrainian fire community, and I can say that it is really fun and cool! However, unlike from European model, here in former soviet countries such arts as juggling, CJ, acrobatics are less popular and, we, at KFF organized workshops on circus genres for fire artists only last year. One reason for this strange phenomenon is the fact that the world's best circus school is situated in Kiev – but it is quite closed to the outside world as well as for Kiev citizens, and also the culture of street circus simply did not exist in the Soviet times. 

 

What was the reaction of the local people of Kiev?

Locals really love KFF, many expected it whole year! This is a very significant event in the life of the city - it has no analogues anywhere else; this can not be seen anywhere else in Ukraine or in the whole world! Many people come to see KFF, families with children, many young people, creative people, and many photographers as well – they have unique chance to make original photos. Everyone who has ever visited the KFF, did not remain indifferent;) We thank our audience for a live response - KFF is a full-scale event that is very informal by its nature, and people feel it, so we get huge feedback from visitors! And although 4000 visitors are not so much in a city with a population of four million - but this festival is recognizable and has gainred an excellent reputation.


What do you think of the future of the festival?

For 5 years, we have grown from one day of KFF to 4-day CAMP with workshops for performers and 2 day show for the audience – this year KFF will be held at the stadium, it will operate on three scenes (the main evening, circus, alternative) from 3 pm to 11 pm and we expect 6000 visitors. Our festival spreads- in addition to the fiery scene there will be more interesting activities (circus scene, break-dance, tribal, graffiti, fair) – this is a good step towards the development of KFF for spectators. The parade, which at last will be held this year - is the realization of another of our intention - to give a life for genre of street art, make it interesting for the viewer. We can say that the KFF - it's counter-attack against a popular form of post-Soviet holiday celebration. 
We plan to do more days of CAMP for participants and expand the program of workshops, to support teachers from CIS countries and give them opportunity to grow professionally. CAMP is already international – and we want to make it a gathering place of all fire community from East, West, North and South – because Ukraine's location is favourable for such purpose, and unlike in Russia we have visa-free entry to many countries around the world. Unfortunately, many fire artists from CIS countries are not able to go to festivals in Europe and America, and so KFF for them - is one of the few opportunities for direct communication with colleagues from abroad. Likewise, for European performers, KFF - it is an opportunity to learn from excellent teachers, gain new experience - because of Ukrainian prices the CAMP cost for all participants is very moderate.

What do you think, what makes KFF special and different from other fire festivals?

KFF is unique in two main reasons:
The first is that none of the festivals of fire genre combines a full-scale show for viewers in the center of the capital and training camp for the participants. Some festivals have priority to make good show; some make a good party with workshops.
Secondly, the KFF as we have already mentioned - is the only festival that is free to go for fire artists from CIS countries and from all other countries, there is a unique platform for exchange of experiences and meetings after years of communicating only on the Internet.

I would like to say thanks to KFF fire theaters from Ukraine and other CIS countries have the opportunity to do a unique show and perform to the viewer. Applications for the KFF pass a competitive selection - we choose not so much a theater, but rather a specific performance for the KFF. Because it is very profitable and practical enough to do the same and easy things to earn money, but for the festival - this is an opportunity to fully open their imagination and realize the most incredible and massive show - in fact that festival pays for travel and accommodation for theaters and artists that perform on stage.

And, of course – See you at KFF!

Lnks below will help to orient on the festival website http://firefest.info/en/main.htm
About KFF http://firefest.info/en/aboutkff.htm
CAMP and registration http://firefest.info/en/aboutkff/camp2011.htm
For participants (who wants to perform) http://firefest.info/en/PARTICIPANTS.htm
Organizers http://firefest.info/en/contacts.htm

Russian version of the site (more complete) http://firefest.info/