Dracul: Prince of Fire – 2009 Fire Ballet

The Crucible Story of Dracul: Prince of Fire
This is a crafted turn of events that brought about the start of the vampire legend, based on the actual 15th century historical character who belonged to the Order of the Dragon, a military group that fought the Ottoman Empire. In Romanian he was referred to as Dracul, meaning dragon. Dracul was the father of Vlad Tepes the Impaler, more commonly known as Dracula. The name Dracula means: “Son of Dracul”.The story begins with Dracul exploring the dark outer regions of his land. He encounters something both monstrous and magnificent and is attacked. He feels strange fiery venom coursing through his body as it dies. But he is not dead. Dracul awakes infused with a strange power…as a burning desire for blood grows within him. Applying his new-found abilities to an industrial use; he gains great power from building and creating with fire.

As Dracul is building his industrial empire, a pair of young lovers seeks shelter from a storm in Dracul’s factory. They text a friend for help, but things turn dark quickly when Dracul’s workers torment them and Dracul falls deeply for the young girl. Trying to flee they are joined by a slayer. A fiery battle begins, but he vanishes in a thunderclap. The slayer and two lovers escape.

The friend of the young lovers, Lucy, enters the castle looking for them. Dracul can’t resist Lucy and lures her into his aerie to feed upon her. The young lovers find their friend apparently dead, they begin to mourn her but soon realize that she has been transformed into Nosferatu: the undead. The slayer comes to their rescue and fights the vampire, driving a stake through her once-pure heart. As the young girl mourns her friend Lucy, Dracul descends on her.

The young man tries to rescue his love, but he realizes she is no longer his innocent young maid. He must kill her, even if it breaks his heart. Dracul cannot accept that his undying love is now dead and seeks to bring her back to life; using his powers of fire and creativity, he revives her. As they celebrate with a macabre dance, the young man and slayer appear to put an end to Dracul and all he has created. After a monumental battle, two figures walk off into the sunrise, and the legend begins . . .

The Music:
In 1997 Northern Ballet Theatre commissioned Philip Feeney to create an ballet score based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We here at The Crucible found the innovative and inspirational score he created to be perfect for our original fire ballet: Dracul, Prince of Fire. As often happens in ballet theater, music director Scott Sterling has made adjustments in this great work in order to best merge it with the talents of our performers. Following in Crucible tradition, he has added a modernized cultural; retrofit within the score that we

Dracul: Prince of Fire – 2009 Fire Ballet2018-03-15T13:08:11-07:00

Newsletter Dec 08

Class Highlights
Last Chance for Fall Classes
Holiday Taster Workshops
Winter Schedule is Here!

Hot New Classes for Winter
Holiday Gifty Art Sale & Open House
10th Anniversary Fire Ballet Fundraiser

The Crucible Recommends
The Crucible Holiday Gift Guide
Plasma Nation – Float Gallery
Celebrating Craftwomen
Girls Welding Reception

Faculty Focus
Tara Murray – Glass Flameworking

Ways to Give the Gift of Art
eBay Giving Works Program

Join The Crucible Community
Call for Instructors

Last Chance for Fall Classes

Calling all fire eaters – here’s a chance to refine your skill and learn new performance techniques from Kristina Cañizares, founder of The Nekyia and veteran performer of many legendary Crucible shows.  Fire Eating & Beyond intensive workshop runs December 13-14th.

Learn the ceramic Art of Raku at a weekend intensive workshop December 6-7th.  Bring in your own completed bisque fired pieces and find out how to use organic materials and fire to create incredible surface textures using this exciting process.

Raku Fired Ceramic Piece
by artist Kathleen Fernald


Get a taste of fire at our Holiday Taster Workshops

Where else can you learn a specialized skill and create a unique piece of art in just three hours? There are still some slots available, but register now to be sure you get into the class you want. Workshops run December 6-7th and would make a great early holiday gift or get you started on making gifts of your own.  Choose morning or afternoon classes in blacksmithing, sand casting, glass fusing or flameworking, jewelry making, and resin casting.

{Click Here to Learn More}


Winter Class Schedule – Hot off the press!

Crucible Members can register now for classes; open registration begins November 25th. If you haven’t received your schedule in the mail, look for it at your favorite pick-up spots around the Bay Area or download a copy here.


Five new classes have been added this winter:


Creative Clay Exploration for Parent & Child (3-5 Years)
Feb 11- Apr 1 | Wednesdays | 3 – 4PM | with Tachina Rudman
Enjoy this special time together as you gently explore the world of clay using art and fun simple movements.

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Newsletter Nov 08

Class Highlights
Family Fun Weekend
Fun Fall Classes

Holiday Taster Workshops
Youth Programs
Youth Weekend Intensives
Girls Welding
Bike Frame Alteration

Holiday Gifty Art Sale & Open House
10th Anniversary Fire Ballet

Crucible News
Arts Funding Saved
Must-See TV

The Crucible Recommends
The Perfect Holiday Gift
Radical Jewelry Makeover Exhibition

Faculty Focus
Warren – Glass Cold Working

Join The Crucible Community
Call for Instructors

The last Family Fun Weekend of the year is
November 22nd & 23rd.
Several of these beginning intensive classes remain where you and a family member can learn something new and for making gifts of your own.   Remember, when you sign up together, one family member receives discounted tuition.

Glass Flameworking
Working over an open flame you’ll create marbles, pendants and more

Intro to Jewelry & Metals
Experiment with different techniques and make a sterling silver ring

Discover the lathe and how you can turn a piece of wood into a beautiful bowl.

{Sign Up Now}


Sign Up for Fall Classes Before They’re Gone!

The days may be getting shorter, and the weather a bit nippier, but it’s always hot here at The Crucible, and there are still some fall session classes where you can experience the excitement of creating.  You’ll find day, evening and weekend classes; the hardest part is choosing which area you want to work in:

Intro to Neon, Demystifying the Light Emiting Diode (LED),
EL-Wire Workshop

Beginning TIG, Intro to MIG, Intro to Welded Sculpture

Sculpting in Clay, Classical Clay Portraiture

Intro to Cast Resin and Silver Jewelry, Bead Casting

Core Vessel Forming, Cold Working Glass, Fusing & Slumping, Kiln-Cast Glass


For those with commitment issues . . . Holiday Taster Workshops

Not sure you want to spend 5 weeks pounding mental or melting glass?  You can learn basic techniques and create a unique piece of art in just three hours.  Choose from Blacksmithing, Glass Flameworking, Glass Fusing, Jewelry, MIG Welding, Resin Casting or Sand Casting.   Morning and afternoon Holiday Tasters run December 6th and 7th, 10AM –

Newsletter Nov 082018-03-15T14:02:28-07:00

Stravinsky’s Firebird – 2008 Fire Ballet



“L’oiseau de feu”

April 9-12 and 16-19, 2008

The Classic Story: Firebird
The Crucible’s version of this classic Russian folktale begins in the enchanted garden of the evil sorcerer, Kashchei. A group of beautiful maidens have discovered a magical orb, whose power lures them to it, trapping them just as the evil Kashchei appears. The maidens struggle to break free of the orb’s power, but cannot release themselves, and Kashchei leads them away.

Suddenly, a fire ball explodes, and the mysterious Firebird appears in its wake. She is enjoying herself in the forest when Prince Ivan, who is out hunting, spots her. He is entranced, and gives chase. After a wild pursuit, Prince Ivan finally captures the fantastic creature. The Firebird pleads for her freedom, and finally Prince Ivan grants it. In return, she presents him with a magic feather, telling him it can be used to summon her if he is ever in need.

Prince Ivan climbs the wall into Kashchei’s garden and spies the group of maidens frolicking and dancing. Hiding in the trees, he watches them, and quickly becomes smitten with the maiden Tsarevna. He reveals himself and much merrymaking ensues. Ivan and Tsarevna have fallen in love at first sight, but all too soon trumpets and fire herald Kashchei’s return.

Kashchei is furious that his garden has been invaded and his guards attack the group, capturing Ivan. Tsarevna pleads for mercy, but Kashchei only revels in her despair, calling for his henchmen to torture Prince Ivan. Remembering his gift from the Firebird, Prince Ivan pulls out the feather. The Firebird comes to the rescue, and emboldens the maidens to put up a fight. Working together, Ivan and Tsarevena discover that the secret to Kashchei’s immortality lies within the orb; they smash it and break all his evil spells. Good triumphs over evil, prince and princess declare their love in a wedding ceremony, and live happily ever after.

The Music:
Sergei Diaghilev commissioned a complete score for his ballet for the 1910 season of Ballet Russe. The resulting Firebird score was the fruit of close collaboration between librettist and choreographer, Michel Fokine, and Igor Stravinsky, and marked the first time music was created specifically for, and as an integral part of a ballet. Diaghilev was a great talent scout and a visionary who promoted collaboration between the arts. Stravinsky became celebrated as one of the greatest composers for the ballet. While they may be rolling over in their graves, we beg their forgiveness for the creative liberties taken with their music and libretto for this unique production.

Stravinsky’s Firebird – 2008 Fire Ballet2018-03-15T15:06:12-07:00

Newsletter Jan 08



Classes to spark up the New Year!
Plan now for spring break workshops and summer session
HOT COUTURE: A Fusion of Fire and Fashion: Thursday SOLD OUT, Fri. & Sat tix still available
Crucible Recommends: Hand Tool Event with Lie-Nielsen
CREATE  = Crucible’s Expanded Access to Tools & Equipment


Youth Blacksmithing

Classes to spark up the New Year!

Whether you want to weld, bend iron, shape glass, dance with fire, create light, work with wood, or learn other skills in the industrial arts, there’s something for you at The Crucible. Classes start again January 26th — right after our Anniversary Celebration, so get ready for a year of exploration and creativity with us at The Crucible.

There are some great new classes, plus we’ve expanded both our facilities and popular spring and summer programs for adults and youth.

First Time Offered!
Neon Letter and Pattern Bending
–    March 4th – April 1
This course teaches specialized skills utilized in basic neon letter and pattern bending, and builds on knowledge developed in Neon Illuminated Sculpture I and II. You’ll work in our newly renovated neon studio and learn how to measure and create neon patterns, and techniques in mounting and wiring finished neon.

Introduction to Welded Sculpture
Three weekend intensives in February & March

Introduction to Jewelry
Two weekend intensives in March

Design for the 3rd Dimension
This core class for all 3D work starts in April

Stained Glass Sculpture
Register early for this class starting in March
Intro to Mechanical Sculpture
This popular class runs in January& March

Classes for Youth
provide hours of exciting learning and a sense of accomplishment. After school classes start January 28th in Blacksmithing, Jewelry, and Welding
Weekend workshops give plenty of time for supervised learning and practicing an exciting skill, like Youth Welding, which runs February 2-3rd.

Find the complete class schedule online, at your local library and other pick-up spots throughout the Bay Area, and here at The Crucible’s office.


Newsletter Jan 082018-03-08T14:33:04-08:00

Fire Arts Festival® 2007


The Crucible’s 7th Annual Fire Arts Festival set West Oakland ablaze and transformed the vacant lot at Kirkham St. and 7th St. into a Fire Arts Arena with a four-day run from Wednesday, July 11th, to Saturday, July 14th, 2007.

Designed and produced by The Crucible’s Founder and Executive Director, Michael Sturtz, the annual celebration of fire and light featured an amazing cast of dancers and performers reflecting the diversity of the Bay Area’s arts community — from classically trained ballet dancers to hip-hop artists, musicians, outrageous fire artists and performers, and The Crucible’s own faculty of blacksmiths, metal casters, and glassworkers.

The festival showcased kinetic and fire art pieces, with over 30 installation artists contributing to the event’s success. Many of the kinetic fire sculptures, like the 168-foot long Serpent Mother, created by arts collective The Flaming Lotus Girls, which encouraged hands-on participation like controlling propane jets. Another interactive display, Dance Dance Immolation, by Interpretive Arson, challenged participants to match on-screen dance steps – with the penalty for a misstep being a blast of fire to the face (fortunately dancers were suited up in Nomex firefighter suits prior to testing their skills).

The Fire Odyssey

Ever raising the bar for “flameboyance,” this year Michael Sturtz added something new: The Fire Odyssey, an 11-act modernized interpretation of Homer’s epic poem, performed nightly. Blending industrial fire theatre with ballet, opera, hip hop, aerial dance, fire performance and more, The Fire Odyssey brought together an amazing cast of internationally recognized dancers and performers to create one of the most technically ambitious and visually stunning productions seen in the Bay Area.

Opera singer Aimee Puentes sang the role of Penelope, and Easton Smith, who played Romeo in The Crucible’s production of Romeo & Juliet—A Fire Ballet, returned as Odysseus. Mongolian contortionist Byamba Serchmaa played Circe, who tried to seduce Odysseus; members of the renowned hip-hop troupe Flavor Group played Odysseus’ men. The acrobatic team of Realis, made up of gold medalists and world champion gymnasts Shenea Booth and Arthur Davis, performed the production’s amazing finale, with original live music provided by Mark Growden and a hand-picked ensemble.

The saga of Odysseus took place on an enormous 58 foot wide stage, complete with a thousand-gallon “sea;” a colossal Rube Goldberg style system of stairs, ramps

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Romeo & Juliet – 2007 Fire Ballet


Our Eighth Anniversary Fundraising Production

In Janurary 2007, The Crucible celebrated its 8th Anniversary with a sizzling synthesis of dance and fire: The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet—A Fire Ballet. In the dazzling tradition of The Crucible’s Fire Operas, this first-ever Fire Ballet was a theatrical spectacle that blended ballet, classical music, aerial performance, hip hop, fire, and the industrial arts into a compelling modernized rendition of Shakespeare’s tragic tale.

Like The Crucible’s Fire Operas, the Fire Ballet creatively brought together unlikely partners in a remarkable collaboration where the whole was much more than the sum of its parts. The legendary tale of star-crossed lovers was set to the passionate and powerful score of Sergei Prokofiev. The production’s musical director was Mark Jan Wlodarkiewicz. The Fire Ballet was designed and produced by Crucible Founder Michael Sturtz, and choreographed by Corinne Blum, who has been called one of the West Coast’s most exciting, young choreographers.

The Crucible’s first-ever Fire Ballet was unquestionably a tremendous success, garnering praise from the San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune, Dance View Times, and the San Francisco Examiner; and selling out for every performance of its two-week run.

The Crucible would like to thank everyone who helped make possible our 8th Anniversary fundraiser, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet—A Fire Ballet:

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors For Their Generous Contributions:
The Hellman Family
The Thornton Family
Ann Hatch & Paul Discoe
The Russell-Shapiro Family
The Cohen Family
Meyer Sound
Lagunitas Brewing Company
Bay Cities Pyrotector
Applied IP
Four Vines Winery

Additional Thanks to the Following For Their Support:
Clear Channel
Oakland Magazine
DTC Grip & Electric
Cresco Equipment Rentals
Mutual Aid Response Services (MARS)
ODC: Oberlin Dance Collective
The Bay Cafe, San Rafael

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Seven Deadly Sins – 2006 Fire Opera


Lust. Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Wrath. Envy. Pride.

Upon setting fire to the stage, Michael Sturtz, Founder and Executive Director of The Crucible, welcomed the audience to its 7th anniversary fundraising event — Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s The Seven Deadly Sins — in a unique fusion of Opera and Fire Arts. Designed and produced by Sturtz, this unique production was directed by Roy Rallo and featured artists from San Francisco Opera and The Oakland East Bay Symphony, conducted by Sara Jobin.   It is The Crucible’s second Fire Opera.

The Crucible’s vast industrial arts studio was transformed into a dreamscape of fire and passion as the lights dimmed. The 30-piece symphony began, and three lawn chairs became the Louisiana home of Anna and her family.


The personality of Anna I is practical with a strong moral conscience, but Anna II is emotional and impulsive; she craves artistic beauty. As Anna journeys through seven cities, she encounters a deadly sin in each, and each personality must face the dilemma of choosing between money or dreams.

The first sin is Sloth. Anna leaves home and the stage comes alive with fire and light. Glowing hot cubes rain from above and sparks fly as hammers strike anvils. The sisters find themselves in a nightmarish scene, compelled to work while the family chorus (lounging in their chairs) exhorts them to keep their nose to the grindstone, singing, “Lazy bones are for the devil’s stock pot.”

Anna encounters Pride and learns about trading favors for money when she arrives in Memphis.


Encouraged by her success, Anna travels to Los Angeles, where she is introduced to Anger, “Mr. Big” (Ed Holmes), and the casting couch concept of success. Anna
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Dido and Aeneas – 2004 Fire Opera

The Crucible Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary in Style
with a Fire Opera

The roar of the furnace, the hush of the crowd: hundreds of faces turn towards the flickering candle held by Katherine Rohrer as she prepares to fill The Crucible’s cavernous interior with her powerful, heart-wrenching voice. So began Dido and Aeneas, The Crucible’s Fire Opera.

Katherine Rohrer is one of the four opera soloists who left the luxury of the San Francisco Opera House to brave the bridge cranes, scissor lifts, molten metal, fire dancers, fork lifts and other sharp objects featured in the production’s revolutionary staging. The Crucible employed its unique resources to turn this baroque masterpiece, originally written by Henry Purcell in 1689 for a convent girl’s school, into a passionate, fiery spectacle that riveted even the youngest, hippest audience members to their seats.









The story follows Dido, Queen of Carthage, who forsakes her royal obligations out of love for the Trojan hero Aeneas. When he abandons her after one night of ardor she cannot bear the heartbreak and impales herself on his spear. Purcell rendered the drama in delicate arias and choral laments, exquisitely performed by the four soloists and the well-known early music ensemble American Bach Soloists, conducted Jeffrey Thomas.

The Crucible added texture to the tragedy, weaving elements of the school’s daily activities into the fabric of the tale. Glassworkers and welders depicted the industry of Carthage, while fireplay and the flying sparks of a grinder represented the mad descent into passion. The stage too was a work of art—no velvet curtains here. The area usually occupied by The Crucible’s metal shop became a custom-built seventy-five foot panoramic stage with an orchestra pit in the middle, flanked by installations from Bay Area sculptors Michael Christian and Kiki Pettit. Set before a row of red welding screens and the boxy metallic arches of the ventilation system, the impression was one of an industrial fairytale.



Produced and designed by The Crucible’s own Michael Sturtz, and directed by San Francisco Opera Associate Director Roy Rallo, the entire production was a collaboration between artistic genres that would scarcely nod as they passed each other in the street, much less work side by side. Yet the result was an original performance where contrasts became compliments and the performers were just as invigorated as the audience.

“It was a terrific experience,” said Ms. Rohrer, “the arts truly combined to enlighten and project

Dido and Aeneas – 2004 Fire Opera2018-03-15T13:07:28-07:00
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