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Art speaks uniquely to the artist. Or more specifically in Les Engen’s case, art calls uniquely to the artist. Engen is the founder and creative mind behind behind Paradise Fireworks of Regina. It was a happy coincidence that he attended a pyromusical competition where the idea of combining music and fireworks made such an impression on him that he changed careers from construction to pyrotechnics.
“I just knew I had to combine fireworks and music,” he says.
Engen had no experience with explosives but dove in to acquire the necessary safety certifications to handle high-powered fireworks. Thousands of hours of experimentation and hundreds of shows later, Engen sounds humbly content that he knows what he is doing when it comes to pyromusical production.
“I look back at the early stuff and I see that it was good but not great,” he says. “Now we have 16 crews so we can perform shows all over Saskatchewan on July 1st. Canada Day is the big day so you do as many shows as you can. Every Canada Day show is unique because everyone’s budget and requirements are different.”
Engen has to order his fireworks for July 1st by the preceeding November. His company stages fireworks performances all year long for weddings, birthdays, rodeos and any kind of event for which a client feels fireworks are appropriate.
It is the choreography that Engen enjoys the most. “It takes about two hours of planning for every minute of performance,” he says. “So a 15-minute show takes 30 hours to plan.”
Many of the shows at which he performs are competitions. He won the Moosomin show in 2015. His ambition is to compete in shows where entrants are required to make their own fireworks rather than buying them from fireworks manufacturers. Engen is in the process of acquiring the licenses necessary to make fireworks.
Music is at the heart of a Paradise Fireworks performance. “Some music just screams a colour,” he says. “Tempo changes and volume have to match what’s happening with the fireworks. That’s the fun part about it.”
Of the many Canada Day performances Engen is creating, he personally likes the 45-minute show at the Dakota Dunes Casino and the anniversary show he makes for the casino in August. “It’s experimental and high-energy all the way through,” he says.
Look for summer shows from Paradise Fireworks at Cypress Hills and visit www.paradisefireworks.com for more information.
There are so many great fireworks shows happening throughout the province this summer! See our list of shows in our events calendar.