Breath of the Volcano

French pyrotechnics Groupe F do not just put on firework shows. Yes, their shows have huge bangs, flying and fire tricks but it wouldn’t really fit to call them a circus either. Instead Groupe F is best described as creating magic, dreams. It’s magical realism in action and unlike most firework shows, their performances are a piece of theatre, a piece of art that tells a story.

For Auckland Arts Festival 2007, Groupe F put on a free show at the Domain. I went with my family and remember being astounded. This year they came back, but the show had a special twist – it was created specifically for Auckland, a piece that artistic director Christophe Berthonneau describes as topo-fiction. This show was Breath of the Volcano, on last week, again at the Domain.

‘What we create are small miracles in large dimensions: mastering fire, walking on water, flying through the air, assisting in the big bang.’
– Christophe Berthonneau

It was something that neither I nor my mother could miss so on Friday night we headed in to the domain with picnic, blankets, sisters, father and boyfriend in tow. It was freezing. I definitely underestimated the temperature drop, but it was worth it. 100%.


The Auckland setting was unmistakable. Projections on the walls of the Auckland War Memorial Museum showed a a Richter scale recognizing our 53 volcanoes, a canoe sweeping across the water as performers lit up in LED costumes mimicked the action on the ground and the port, containers in action. The sound taken from all over the city – Piha to the CBD. The most entertaining moment (if in a very tongue in cheek way) was when a group of frogs swam across the museum to blow up a rainbow. You’ll get the reference I’m sure.


Breath of the Volcano can only be described as spectacular. It was magic, the fireworks painting the sky like liquid sparkles, molten glitter. A total sensory feast. A total WOWWWWWW.

Sadly, if you didn’t get to see Breath of the Volcano over the weekend then you’ve missed your chance. But if you ever hear that Groupe F is coming then don’t hesitate. It’s worth every penny.



About madicattt

Curator of The Things That Are Good. Sharing the things that stand out in the worlds of theatre, food, beauty and style.
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