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Playing with Fire

Photo by
Bill Denison

The best time for Kelly Brooks-Staub to practice spinning fire is the middle of the night — when the neighbors are fast asleep. While husband Gordon Staub does "safety watch," she ignites her two "poi" (round balls attached to two-foot chains) and begins to whoosh them in intricate patterns. "You can hear where the fire is even when it's behind you and you can feel the heat. I use all my different senses," says Brooks-Staub, assistant director of communications at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. The origins for Brooks-Staub's two-year-old passion for fire performance came as a teenager, when she did the "geeky high school thing" of performing with flags in the marching band. So far the husband/wife duo (he's a fire artist, too) has performed at friends' parties and for the grand opening of a hair salon . They'd like to perform more, though finding the time is tricky for Brooks-Staub, a PhD student in economics at American University and an economics instructor at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.

"When I'm at work at Hopkins I'm sitting in front of a computer or interacting in small group meetings," she says. "When I spin fire I get to satisfy this other part of me that doesn't get expressed at work. I get to dance with fire, to do something dangerous. I get to perform."
— Sue De Pasquale

Return to February 2006 Table of Contents

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