“It’s important not only to see the many possibilities in many things, but the many possibilities in one thing.”
Name: Oggie Marinski
Place of birth: Bulgaria
Do: Fire Dancer and Musician
How did you learn to fire dance?
I was living in China, working in corporate real estate. I went on holiday to Koh Phangan and I saw real fire dancing for the first time. I thought “Wow, this is amazing, but I could never learn to play with fire in this way.” It looked so complicated. Eventually I quit my job in real estate and went travelling to Thailand. The images of the fire dance had stayed with me, so I went to Koh Phangan to find a fire dancing teacher and I was lucky enough to find the best guy on the island. Getting him to teach me however, that was not so easy.
It was like something you’d see in a movie. The first time I went to ask if he’d teach me, he wouldn’t even look at me or acknowledge my presence. After a couple of attempts he said “What do you want?” He was a pretty gruff guy. When I told him I wanted to learn fire dancing he just said “I don’t teach foreigners.” I had to return a few more times before he explained why: “You all come here to party. You smoke. You drink. You have no discipline. You think fire is easy to work with, but it’s a lot of work.” I left disappointed but determined to teach myself. I trained on the beach. The teacher would come by and I could see him watching me practice every day. After two months he finally came over to me and said “I see you’re crazy, just like me. Come on.” That was how it began. I learned everything from him. Over 18 months we trained every day for 10 hours and then we would perform for audiences in the evening. I learned a lot in that time.
How did you find Ibiza?
When I was living in China I briefly met an Ibicenca girl who was performing in a club there. I had never heard of Ibiza. She told me all about the island and said I should come and visit her one day. Time passed and 3 years later I was travelling in Thailand. Whilst working in Koh Phangan more and more people kept telling me I needed to visit Ibiza. I remembered the girl I met in the club back in China, I still had her contact details. I reached out to her and said “Remember me? We met for an hour in a club in China 3 years ago. You invited me to come and visit you in Ibiza” She said “Yes I remember. You must come to Ibiza.” She was good to her word. So I went to Ibiza and stayed with her. She gave me a tent and let me sleep in her garden! We are still very good friends to this day. Just last week she said to me “I’m so pleased you are still here Oggi. You can speak Spanish and you have a life here now. I’m happy for you.”
What convinced you to stay?
It was never my intention to stay. I spent a lot of money that first summer I was here. I did a few fire shows and stayed afloat, but at the end of the season I left and joined a well-known group in Vienna called Phoenix Fire Dancers. I’d had a great time in Ibiza. I never thought I’d come back. But then I had a call out of the blue from an agency who wanted to bring me back to Ibiza the following summer. They sent me a whole list of dates. I knew I couldn’t turn it down. So I worked the next season and I left again at the end of the summer. The next year the same thing happened again. I kept coming back.
You also play guitar as a solo artist and with some vocalists
I’ve been playing the guitar much longer than I’ve been fire dancing, since I was 10 years old. I’m more recognised as a fire dancer in Ibiza, but often that’s because people like us to be just one thing. It’s taken a long time to convince people who think of me as a fire performer that I’m also a musician.
Do you think the two disciplines are comparable?
I find them comparable in how I have learned them. Fire dancing and playing the guitar require repetitive learning. You have to practice one movement over and over until you get it right. I like doing this, I like to repeat things. I enjoy learning this way and I’ve found it’s what I’m good at. So if it isn’t fire dancing or the guitar, it’s going to be some other discipline that I apply it to.
Many people might not have the patience to do this for one pursuit, let alone two
It’s all one thing to me. Repeating a movement, refining it and making it a little bit better each time. It’s important not only to see the many possibilities in many things, but the many possibilities in one thing. I enjoy exploring the different angles.
You have a necklace which says “I am in silence.” What does this mean?
I like silence. Sometimes I go out but I don’t want to talk with people so I put on the necklace. It’s very interesting to see how people respond. Friends understand and some others can relate, but occasionally people get angry. Some individuals like to talk a lot as well, and after a while I can’t listen any more, so I tell them politely their voice is too loud or that it’s too much information for me and I cannot digest what they are saying any more. Then I put my earplugs in. I have to protect my ears.
Do you think this silence can influence your performances?
It’s not by chance that my performances with fire or music don’t require me to talk. I can present myself and communicate without saying a word.
Is it true you went to Clown School?
Only for a week, but I’m friends with many clowns who studied in Ibiza. There used to be a Clown School here but it’s moved now.
What did you learn there?
On my first morning they put us in pairs and said “You have five minutes to make your partner laugh.” I started doing some stupid things, but my partner just sat there watching me with a straight face. I tried harder, I tried so many things, but nothing, not even a crack of a smile. I was exasperated. Finally I gave up and said to my partner, “I cannot do this, let’s switch.” This was the moment she laughed! I had revealed my incompetence and inability to make her laugh and somehow she found this funny. What did I learn? How to make a fool of myself and not care about it. And I learned how difficult it is to make people laugh. It’s much easier to make someone cry than it is to make them laugh.