By Joe McFarlane
A brave dancer embraced the flames and the heat of rope-dart dancing to combat her awkwardness, anger and negative thoughts.
The idea of roaring, twirling fire balls may not be everyone’s idea of a good anger management plan, but for Sam Tobey of Redondo Beach, California, the dazzling and dangerous display was exactly what the 26-year-old needed to combat her terrible mood swings.
Rope-dart dancing consists of a skilled performer lighting up a ball attached to the end of a string and combining silky dance moves and fluid martial arts in order to create a hypnotic and mesmerising display like no other.
Since discovering the unique dance display at a festival three years ago, it was love at first sight for Sam, who has been hooked ever since.
Sam said: “I use rope dart dancing as a form of exercise, creativity, but also as a form of meditation.
“I have pretty terrible mood swings, and I have had them for as long as I can remember.
“Spinning rope darts puts me in a headspace where I have to be present.
“I feel like I can expel my anger and negative thoughts out of my mind when I spin, because I have to focus and pay attention, but I can also get pretty aggressive with my movement.
“It’s very meditative.”
Sam may have been dedicated to the cause, but that didn’t stop the nerves when she first started swinging a ball of fire around her head by her neck.
Sam said: “It was definitely scary when I first started.
“Although I have gotten used to it, I still get a rush whenever I light up, but I feel like that is part of the fun of it.
“I feel very exhilarated and alive when spinning fire.
“After about a year, I pushed through my awkwardness and I started getting good.
“That was a huge deal for me, because I had never been particularly good at anything while growing up.”
Even though Sam has now learnt the ropes, it hasn’t stopped the dancer getting a lick or two from the flames.
Sam said: “I have actually set myself on fire many times, especially when trying new moves.
“But as our bodies are made up of 70% water, it’s not really as dangerous as people would think.
“The most dangerous thing is when people wear synthetic clothing, because that will melt to your skin, whereas organic material will not.”
Ultimately, by skilfully and seductively dancing with ropes of blazing fire and even colourful smoke, Sam has found her own creative outlet while getting her emotions in a more positive state of mind.
Sam said: “I had never seen anything even remotely like it.
“It was hypnotic and I felt so instantly connected to it, and inspired, and just hungry to know more about it.
“I got home from the festival and bought a rope dart, and I starting training immediately. I was not good at it.
“I wasn’t naturally graceful, and I had a lot of trouble following directions. But I was so addicted to it, so I kept at it.
“I highly recommend rope-dart dancing to anyone who feels like they struggle with anger issues.”