Stetson Law student Edson Abadia Jr. has been learning circus arts for three years. But, it wasn’t until he moved from Daytona to St. Petersburg that he began performing seriously as a fire dancer.
In 2020, Abadia’s performances were mostly from the wild world of the sidewalk.
“I started by busking, which is where you perform on the side of the street and audience members give you tips,” Abadia explained. “St. Pete has a lively fire community, so when I moved here in 2020, I began to meet all of these talented performers.”
Learning fiery choreography and safety propelled the law student into “circus life” quickly.
“I’m a dancer,” Abadia said. “Fire performance allowed me to share dance and movement with a crowd in an entirely different way.”
After joining the local troupe, Underground Cirque, Abadia began performing both as part of a team and alone for various St. Petersburg-area events – most recently for Gulfport’s First Friday Art Walk, where he last performed for the Body Beautiful event on July 2 with his partner, Michael Knapp.
Behind the Magic
“So much of what I do are illusions of danger that when done safely and properly can really look like magic,” Abadia said. “The most interesting part is the science behind the fire.”
His act, which includes much acrobatic balancing over an open flame, can look precarious, but with burn-resistant gear and fire safety personnel nearby, Abadia says it’s rare that performers suffer injury.
Perhaps what shocks his audience most is Abadia’s Stetson status, where he is currently studying law and a part of Lambda Legal Society at Stetson University College of Law.
“It often does surprise people, but I find my two passions to be more connected than you may think,” Abadia said. “Fire performance, much like the law, is an art form.”
With a 2022 graduation date, the performer plans to continue supporting the art form he loves while practicing law.
“Circus arts have provided a safe space for me to explore my movement and introduced me to an amazing community,” Abadia said. “After I graduate, I plan to give back to this community by contributing to local performers, troupes and spaces that keep the circus alive.”
Catch Abadia at Gulfport’s monthly First Friday Art Walks.