What is Hitodama?
Hitodama is a flame effect system for aerial modern dance. The dancer wears a harness and hangs from a tether made of hoses, signal wires, and steel support cables. Anchored near her center of gravity, she can change orientation easily. The tether is attached to a complex swivel assembly which conducts fuel gases, breathing air, and electrical signals while allowing the dancer to spin effortlessly. At each hand and foot is a propane-fueled thruster with afterburner, similar to those used for precise positioning of spacecraft. Using them, the dancer can propel herself through the air, spin around, and stop. A flame- and heat-resistant suit and breathing apparatus protect the dancer from the hot gases produced by the rockets.
What does Hitodama mean?
Hitodama, 人魂 (“human soul”), are entities from Japanese folklore. They are the spirits of the recently dead, taking flight in the form of wispy curled fireballs. You can see an artist’s conception at The Obakemono Project, or read the Wikipedia article.
What’s aerial dance?
In short, dance in which the performer hangs from an overhead anchor point in some fashion. Aerial dance is generally differentiated from aerial acrobatics and the circus arts (trapeze, tissu, corde lisse, lira, etc.), though they are often practiced side-by-side in performance. Aerial dance focuses less on specific acrobatic technique, and more on improvisation and expression through movement. A variety of apparatuses can be employed, but one of the most popular and versatile is the rope and harness. This is the style on which Hitodama is based. More information can be found at Wikipedia.