Young Achievers: MJ is a girl on fire
Bermuda's youngest fire dancer lit up the Town of St George when she performed a fiery dance routine on New Year's Eve.
Marie-Jeanna “MJ” Doughty, 20, starred during the annual festivities for the second time through PyroCrazed Entertainment.
She said that, while the experience was nothing new to her, new year celebrations always came with an extra spark.
Ms Doughty explained: “We're all there to celebrate something — people see it as a reason to come together and see something amazing. We, as the entertainment, feed off the crowd's energy.”
Ms Doughty, from Southampton, said that she took up fire dancing in 2017 when she returned from studying dance at Conteur Academy in Toronto, Canada.
She explained that the art form was a way for her to develop her skills outside of her job as a dance instructor at the In Motion School of Dance.
Ms Doughty said: “I realised that being a professional dancer abroad wasn't going to be the path that would make me happy, so I went through the teaching route and figured out how I was going to be a good teacher for my students.
“Rockfire had put out a casting call and as soon as I came back that summer I met up with them, thought ‘wow, this is awesome' and realised it was definitely something that I wanted to do.
“I worked with them for a year and then moved over to PyroCrazed Entertainment and I've been with them ever since.”
She added: “It's a lot of fun and it's similar to dance in a lot of ways, so it was an easy transition. But in a lot of ways it's very different, so I still get to learn a lot of new things, which is awesome.”
Ms Doughty said that much of fire dancing involved fluid motion and directing the body's momentum instead of stopping it like in other forms of dance.
She added that, once the proper techniques are learnt, some performances can be improvised on the spot.
Ms Doughty also said that fire safety was a key element of the dance and many performers were taught to respect the flame while also remaining comfortable.
She explained: “We all have a healthy respect for fire for sure, but the more you work and play with the fire, the more fun it becomes.
“It's such a beautiful thing and none of the dancers get over it — we all think it's really cool.”
Ms Doughty added that fire dancing has given her a lot more confidence in herself and her general dancing abilities.
She said: “Before I started fire performing, the thought of just me on a stage performing for some people would have felt very terrifying, but it's not as scary when you have this other thing that's amazing and beautiful.
“It's kind of like having a partner on stage with you, so it makes the whole solo thing a lot less terrifying.”