March 22, 2102
Red Hot Girl
By Sharyn A White
She has a fascination with fire, a passion for showmanship and the scars to prove it. She is Corinne Vivers, founder and performer with Mourning Fyre, a local performing arts group based in Phoenix. Once a student aspiring to be a veterinarian, Corinne has had some career changes along the way. At 31, she finally decided after much thought to pursue a career as a medical examiner. She attends Arizona State University to fulfill the requirements to do so, although she is currently on hiatus from ASU and plans to return in the fall. Interestingly, Corinne is also a former Paradise Valley Community College Student and received an associate degree in Administration of Justice. After working part-time doing crime scene cleanups, she developed a liking for that kind of work and that led to her decision to become a medical examiner. With her drive and ambition, I have no doubt she will accomplish her goal.
At a recent Mourning Fyre practice, called “Poi in the Park”, Corinne commented on how she became involved with this most unique lifestyle.
From her appearance, there’s no way you would even guess that she does this sort of thing. Average height, in great physical shape and a very pretty brunette, she hardly looks like the “type” who would do something so unique for fun or profit. Outgoing and personable, she is the type to make friends easily and is adaptable to all kinds of situations, both on stage and off stage.
“I became interested in poi when a friend suggested it about seven years ago. I thought it would be fun and a good fitness tool,” she said. “It’s not just playing with fire. There‘s a lot of dancing involved. Each performance is choreographed according to the event we are appearing at.”
She explained that poi began with a New Zealand tribe called the Maori. She believes the custom goes back many centuries. The Maori used flaming spears, called poi, to cook their food and to perform their dances and rituals. The “poi” used in the performances are actually bound balls of Kevlar rope or tape that are lit on fire for the show. They also use flaming hoops and other apparatus for their shows. Her experience has produced a few minor burns from accidents but nothing that required even a brief hospital trip. She told me all performers are well versed in fire safety and very familiar with the accelerants they use in their performances. Some are rather recent members of the troupe and some have as much as ten years experience.
Corinne was born in New Jersey and moved to Arizona in 1986 with her family, which includes a sister and brother. She has had a tremendous love of animals from a very early age and originally had thought about becoming a veterinarian. Her creative side took over when she discovered fire performing.
“My family, especially my mom, was terrified at the prospect of me doing this,” she said, but her friends thought it was very cool and wanted her to perform at their family parties, etc. In fact, many of their appearances are at weddings, birthday parties, reunions and corporate events.
“The downturn in the economy has made it especially difficult to acquirebookings,” she confided. “Sometimes the client only wants to hire three dancers and not the entire troupe. That makes it more difficult in a lot of ways. We recently teamed up with AmazonLocal to offer discounted performances. We hope this will generate more business for us.”
The troupe performs both locally and statewide for various fundraisers, including recent performance to benefit the Arizona Burn Foundation. Pictures from various events were made into a calendar (sold on their web site) and proceeds benefit the Arizona Burn F oundation.
They are regulars at the Venue of Scottsdale, the First Fridays events in
downtown Phoenix and other art-awareness events in both Phoenix and Tucson.
Mourning Fyre has also been hired for events as far away as California and Florida. The group has made the rounds of somewhat unique and specialized venues,including The Arizona FetishBall and Burning Man Festival. The Arizona FetishBall, produced by Horns and Halos, an alternative entertainment company, is an annual event showcasing artists of a “different persuasion”. The Burning Man Festival is a kind of a temporary city within a
festival, held annually in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada with many different kinds of artistic self-expression. Each member of Mourning Fyre uses a stage name. Corinne’s name is Purrgatori Fyre. Other members of the group include: Red, Trae, Latex Frog, Philthy, Pants, Baer, Alaska, SamBam, Skortch, P-mo, and Mishka. All use the last name of Fyre.
There are seven core performers and 20 total performers in Mourning Fyre, all organized and overseen by Corinne. Besides her activities with the troupe, she also teaches veterinary tech programs at Kaplan College during the mornings and works afternoons/evenings as marketing director for Fire Mecca, a Tucson company that distributes and sells the equipment used in the art of fire performing. Mourning Fyre does free playshops every other Sunday at Granada Park, just off 20th St. and Maryland Ave. in Phoenix, between noon and 2 PM. She encourages participation at these events and has tools to loan to those willing to try. One may watch, learn or participate at these exhibitions. Practices are private, but they teach a structured class every other Thursday night at The Home Ec Department at 12th St. and Glendale Avenue. More information about these classes and other upcoming events can be found on their web site: www.mourningfyre.com.