Can you share the origin story of Pyrocosmic? How and when was the team formed?

Pyrocosmic was founded in late 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina when six friends who shared a love of flow and fire arts decided to build a foundation upon which they could support each others individual goals, and expand even higher as a collective. The six founding members are Tollina Banh, Amy Clemmons, Nikki Cook, McKayla Wabalas (myself), Julia Wood, and Rachel Wynn. 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

What inspired the concept of incorporating fire instruments into your performances?

We are very grateful for all of the opportunities we have received, but in particular have had some very cool performances working with Airlie Entertainment out of Wilmington, NC. Their monthly events are always so much fun and bring a great crowd, and we’ve had the pleasure of performing for some of our favorite artists at these events! Coming up we are really looking forward to a group fire choreography at Brightfire Festival in Concord, NC on April 26th.

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

Looking back, what have been some of the most memorable performances in Pyrocosmic’s history?

We are very grateful for all of the opportunities we have received, but in particular have had some very cool performances working with Airlie Entertainment out of Wilmington, NC. Their monthly events are always so much fun and bring a great crowd, and we’ve had the pleasure of performing for some of our favorite artists at these events! Coming up we are really looking forward to a group fire choreography at Brightfire Festival in Concord, NC on April 26th.

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

How has Pyrocosmic evolved since its inception, both in terms of performance style and team dynamics?

Since inception, the energy has been electric with skill sharing and the introduction of new props and new ideas. We all have particular strengths with certain props that we are able to teach each other and build off of. I would also absolutely say we all have a new confidence as a result of Pyrocosmic and the support we provide each other, and that confidence definitely shows in our performances! As far as team dynamics go, not much has changed. We are honestly so lucky to naturally work together and make decisions, delegate, and negotiate as a team. Since there is no one person “in charge”, we prefer to meet in person or on a face-to-face call to have an open, safe space for everyone to share their opinions until we come to a decision we all feel good about. 

It definitely helps that when we founded Pyrocosmic, we were very thoughtful and thorough in terms of discussing our goals, intentions, and vision and creating value pillars and expectations we all agreed on up front. Since we all are working towards a common goal, it’s usually not too hard of a conversation!

Can you describe the current state of Pyrocosmic? What projects or performances are you currently working on?

We are currently working on group fire choreography for a festival in Concord, NC called Brightfire Festival. We are super excited because at the end of our performance, we get to light the bonfire to celebrate Beltane! Additionally we are hoping to host our own flow centered event at a local venue soon, which should be amazing and we are all really looking forward to bringing to fruition. 

Individually we all have projects and performances we are looking forward to, with festival performances on the lineup such as Sol Fest, Mountain Music Festival, and a local one we love called Casual Campout. 

How does Pyrocosmic approach the creative process when developing new performances with fire instruments?

That is a great question. It certainly takes a lot of group discussion in the beginning to conceptualize what type of performance we are looking for. How many performers at once, what props we will be using, how to safely move around one another and plan proper timing; and of course the energy and expression we want to embody. Once we have a general idea of what we want, we come up with the choreography and practice it with our props unlit, and try to anticipate any challenges that might present themselves once we do light the wicks. Once we have fleshed out our final draft before burning, we will practice it on fire to explore the movements and any concerns or edits we need to make. And it’s pretty much rinse and repeat from there until we are satisfied with the final product! 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

Are there specific challenges or safety considerations that come with working with fire instruments, and how does Pyrocosmic address them?

Absolutely. No one should attempt to spin fire without having been taught by an experienced, trained fire professional. Working with fire involves having extensive proper safety knowledge, including what fabrics are safe to wear, what fuel to use, how to properly expel excess fuel, how to extinguish different props effectively with a safety blanket, and how to communicate to someone actively working with fire if you notice a risk. Among many other considerations. We are all experienced spinners who have been trained in fire safety, and we all have Specialty Performers Insurance just in case! We also love to bring a binder with us to our gigs that includes fire safety information and copies of our insurance, in the case an event coordinator or fire marshall would be interested in reviewing it themselves.

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

What kind of training and preparation do team members undergo to ensure a safe and captivating performance?

We meet at least weekly to practice and always extra leading up to a performance to ensure that we feel comfortable and strong in our performance plan. But it’s also important to be aware that accidents do happen, and do everything in your power to mitigate those accidents. This looks like wearing proper fire safe fabrics, properly securing your hair, and then always having a dedicated, trained fire safety ready for action at every event. 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

In what ways does Pyrocosmic engage with the audience during performances? How important is audience interaction in your shows?

Engaging with the audience is the best part! We love to interact with our audience as much as is appropriate for the event. Always having a big smile and doing specific tricks that appear more “3D” while making eye contact brings the audience into the performance and makes them feel more immersed in the moment. You can play with the energy of the crowd and use it to your advantage! Kids are especially fun to perform for, and we love events where we get to show the kiddos something really cool they’ve never seen before. 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

What kind of feedback have you received from audiences or clients, and how does it influence your future performances?

Working with clients to come up with an offering that fits their vision is one of the things we pride ourselves on. We offer a variety of performances, from LED and fire prop manipulation to stilt walking, but are always expanding to offer more. We always work to bring our best energy to an event, and as we continue to have more opportunities to reflect on, we continue to get excited about the future of new costumes, new choreography, and new performance offerings. 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

Can you share any behind-the-scenes stories or interesting anecdotes from Pyrocosmic’s journey so far?

Something that I’m sure a lot of performance artists can relate to – our first ever group choreography we created, absolutely ruined the song for us! Once you hear the same song at least a dozen times every practice for at least a dozen practices, it starts to lose its charm. Since then, we all laugh about how when we hear the song out of context, we all instinctively start bustin’ out the choreo! 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

How does Pyrocosmic maintain a balance between traditional fire instrument performances and incorporating innovative elements?

It is important to honor the roots of the art we have all come to love so deeply. This looks like educating ourselves on the history of various props, and fire arts in general, and the cultures of which these sacred dances came from. It is also important to maintain a respect for the flame and connecting with it personally before trying to bring it to a performance level. As for innovation, we all love to play! We each have our own flow style that embodies different techniques and energies that pull from different backgrounds and our own personal self expression. The beauty of working together is that as all of our individual flows change and grow, we inspire each other and expand as a collective, which in turn inspires our individual flow once again and the cycle continues. 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

As a team, how do you stay updated on the latest trends and techniques within the fire performance industry?

We each have our own connections and communities within the fire performance industry that allows us to share opportunities and inspiration with each other that we otherwise may not have seen. We also maintain and monitor our Instagram and Facebook performance pages, and stay connected with the community and potential clients there. We also enjoy going to community events such as local drum circles and flow arts festivals to skill share and learn from others. 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

Are there specific goals or milestones that Pyrocosmic aims to achieve shortly?

We are currently working on a 30 minute fire choreography that involves a rotation of a variety of props to showcase our full range of motion and are very excited for that! We also recently cohosted our first event at Durham venue The Fruit, and are looking forward to hosting our own event at some point soon. Additionally we have just launched our website,, which we have been working hard on and are very proud of the result. We all have so many individual goals we are working on it is hard to pick just a few! 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

How does Pyrocosmic foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork among its members?

The most important aspect of cultivating a space where teamwork and friendship thrives is clear communication. We all are clear on the expectations held of us, and the values on which we founded Pyrocosmic. When something comes up, we communicate it with the group immediately. When conflict arises, we attend to it calmly and with patience and seek to understand each other, giving each person the time to share their opinions or concerns and then discussing as a collective and ultimately deciding on what the majority wants to do. This allows us to disagree while still feeling heard and respected, which allows us to continue to move forward without resentment or strife. We all support each other’s individual performance goals and successes, and take action to demonstrate that support however we can! Every woman in Pyrocosmic is a wonderful, divine friend and supporter and we all recognize the sacred power in women supporting women. 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

Are there collaborations or partnerships with other performers or organizations that have been particularly impactful for Pyrocosmic?

We are incredibly grateful to have worked with Airlie Entertainment out of Wilmington, NC at their monthly Sanctuary events at Ironclad Brewery. We also recently cohosted our first event at The Fruit, a venue we all know and love who is known for supporting the arts in our area in such awesome ways. Many of our members also work for other circus and performance arts companies, and we are incredibly grateful for the experience and opportunities we have achieved through those organizations. 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

How does the team handle challenges or setbacks, and what lessons have you learned from them?

Preparation and communication are key! If we are well prepared and expectations have been clearly communicated, there is much less likely to be any setbacks. Being well prepared in anticipation of any setbacks lets you address them with ease as they arise. And of course, some things are just out of your control and impossible to prepare for, and in those moments you have to keep your head up, keep smiling and do the best you can! 

@Mysticchickpeaflow – co-founder

Can you discuss any plans for expanding Pyrocosmic’s reach or exploring new avenues within the performance industry?

We have recently launched our Facebook, Pyrocosmic Performance Troupe, and website, joining our online network with our Instagram account, @pyrocosmic. 

We are also able to be reached by email, We are working on many exciting new avenues, including aerial silks, new fire props, and new costume concepts to have as offerings for our clients. 

In your opinion, what sets Pyrocosmic apart from other fire performance groups, and what unique qualities do your team members bring to the table?

I think what sets Pyrocosmic apart is our focus and dedication on lifting each other. Pyrocosmic meetings are not just focused on the needs of the group, but also the needs of each of us as individuals. We share our personal goals and dreams and we all offer what we can to help bring each other’s dreams to fruition. There is no competition or energy of gatekeeping, no hierarchy in skill sets or “person in charge”. We choose to be here because we absolutely love what we do, and we wanted to share our journeys with other creative souls and build something deeper together.  Our members all embody unique flow styles that really highlight their strengths and beauty. In my opinion and in my own words- 
Tollina Banh or Tollina Luna is smooth as butter with a variety of props and has a lovely stage presence. She spins hoops, fans, palm torches, and double staffs, and is constantly leveling up with each prop! 

Amy or Clementine Hoops has a sassy, playful flow that audiences love to love. Her primary props are hoop, fans, and palm torches, but she is ever expanding, currently learning dragon staff and aerial silks! 

Nikki Cook or Nikki Neptune is a fire artist and circus performer with over 6 years of experience. Nikki is well versed in single, double, and triple hoops, fire fans, palm torches dragon staff, and stilt walking. Her performances are mesmerizing and she has always been a huge inspiration to me. 

Julia Wood is a dragon staff master and also amazing with hoops, palm torches, and double staffs. Her flow is technical and alluring and she always brings something new to her flow!

Rachel Wynn has been spinning fire for over 10years and is a queen with on body fire hooping! She spins with 6 wicks and is fearless in her flow. She also spins fans, palm torches, and has recently started learning to spin a fire star.
My name is McKayla Wabalas or Mystic Chickpea, and my primary prop is a hoop. 

My flow style is energetic and technical, with lots of eye-catching flips, folds, and illusions; playing with the planes of space between myself, my hoop, and the audience. I also spin fire fans, palm torches, and am learning to tame the dragon staff.

Looking ahead, what high hopes does Pyrocosmic have for the future, both as individuals and as a collective team?

Looking forward, we hope to begin hosting local events to share our love of flow and fire arts with our community. We are also looking forward to the events we have on our calendar and expanding to add more events throughout the year. Individually, we have some exciting festival performances and workshops we are teaching coming up; from Sol Fest to Oasis Hoop Retreat. We are celebrating lots of firsts, with one of our members performing at their first big festival this year, and I will be teaching my first workshop in Costa Rica at Oasis Hoop Retreat! This year also includes some big changes for us as two of our members plan to begin a new chapter of nomadic living. We are excited and hopeful for what the future holds.

For more fiery updates and behind-the-scenes glimpses, follow Pyrocosmic on Instagram @pyrocosmic and visit their website

Our website is

Instagram @pyrocosmic


Facebook Pyrocosmic Performance Troupe