The shape of a traditional fan, usually with some sort of ring at the handle and varying numbers of spines resulting in 3-12 wicks/flames or one solid piece of rope wick lining the outer edge. Fans have been used in dance for hundreds of years in various cultures and dance styles throughout the world. Included in the more traditional styles are Chinese fan dancing, flamenco in Spain and ballets like Don Quixote. A bit newer on the scene is the US-born feather fan, over-sized and used frequently in the world of burlesque fan dancing. The fire found the fan, however, via bellydance. The fans would be an accent of the belly dancer with little technique in their own movement.
Once they began to hit the mainstream, somewhere around the turn of the 21st century, fire fans took a turn for the technical. In today’s fire fan dance, the fans are as much their own dance as the dance around them is, taking many moves and ideas from poi, double staff and mini hoops and, of course, claiming some of their own in fire tool history — a history in the making.