The Crucible’s Second Annual Benefit Fire Ballet

Passions ignite at The Crucible foundry in Oakland, CA.

Down by the West Oakland Bart station, often late into the night, one may observe mysterious flickering lights accompanied by loud explosions. If it ain’t gunshots, you can be sure some welder, sculptor or pyrotechnics whiz at the Crucible foundry is burning the midnight oil.

Founded by Michael Sturtz in 1999, this nonprofit educational hub of fine and industrial arts has attracted a highly motivated group of artists, artisans and students from all over the country. “From cast iron to neon, and from large-scale public art to the most precise kinetic sculpture, The Crucible is fast becoming the best-equipped public industry & arts education facility on the West Coast.”

Ballet star Tina Bohnstedt cruises in a vintage Pontiac (Firebird, natch).
Photo by Gary Wilson

Last year, audiences were astounded by the collective’s incendiary production of Romeo and Juliet. Their second annual “benefit fire ballet”, a decidedly ballsy interpretation Stravinsky’s Firebird, opens tonight:

[A] unique fusion of classical ballet, aerialists, acrobats, fire performers, break dancers…paired with fire and industrial arts. It’s definitely ballet with an industrial edge provided by Crucible artisans, a cameo appearance by a Pontiac Firebird, and a ballerina’s graceful pas-de-deux with a motorcycle stunt rider.

The production’s running every night through the 12th, with additional shows on the 16th, 17th and 19th. Proceeds from ticket sales will go directly towards supporting the Crucible school. All shows are expected to sell out, so if you’re thinking of going (and I know folks as far away as San Diego and Portland are making the trip) get your tickets in advance.

6 Responses to “The Crucible’s Second Annual Benefit Fire Ballet”

  1. Bunny Says:

    so cool I just had to get you two tickets : )

  2. Mer Says:


  3. Nadya Says:

    Ballet + pyrotechnics. Yes! I wish I could go to this. Alas, it’s coming up too fast for me to plan the trip. The Romeo and Juliet YouTube video was spectacular, though I was left wondering “what part of the story is this?” at certain points. Very beautiful and dangerous-looking.

  4. Mark Says:

    Wow, looks hugely absorbing in a much-needed (for me, right now!) disengage-jaw-and-brain kinda way – I’d absolutely love to see it, but the taxi fare back to Manchester would be quite the bitch, methinks… ;)

    Speaking of Manchester, and missing that great escape of just transforming yourself into a giant pair of goggling eyes for an hour or so, this whole post reminded me a little bit of Theater Titanick’s Insect which I was lucky enough to catch when it came over here a couple of years ago. As one of our local rags put it:

    “Featuring helium balloons and giant machines, shooting tongues of fire and jets of water, Insect is based around a German morality tale about wingless ants – who, as they evolve, produce their first offspring with wings. The jealousy and rage of the parents, confused with their love and wish to protect their young, are played out on an epic scale…the ants are enormous mechanical creations, while there is fire, water, things arriving by crane and taking off along a runway in a spectacular poetic fable about our dreams of flying.”

    You guys would love it, I’m sure – it was just nuts, in terms of both scale and content…a fabulous spectacle. Keep an eye on their tour dates – I’m sure any of the touring shows by those guys would be worth catching if they head Stateside.

  5. Mer Says:

    Mark, that sounds absolutely incredible. I’ll definitely keep an eye on their touring schedule.

  6. Nick Says:

    Hooray for The Crucible! I’m going tonight!