meet Nellie and Mare

well experienced & renowned

Nellie and Mare were both respected performers in their own right when they formed Strings on Fire in 2006.  They bring you a wealth of experience infused with genuine passion.   Always developing and evolving their skills, Nellie and Mare live and breathe Strings on Fire!

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    Award Winning

    Winners of the prestigious Entertainer of the Year by BT Publishing, Winners of CitySearch Best in the City Award for the city of Sydney.

  • Fully Insured

    Each performer has public liability insurance for $30 million.


Michael (Nellie) Collins

Co-Director and Performer

"Romance, excitement, a touch of danger:  a reflection of our lives!"

about Nellie

Nellie (Michael Collins) (also known as Finhead)

Rhodesian born Nellie first encountered the circus arts in Spain in 1992. The rich eclectic culture of this world proved incredibly attractive, and from that pivotal moment he has been involved heart and soul in circus-based physical performance. For the past twenty years he has developed his uniquely humorous style and original circus stunts, amongst the most technically demanding and genuinely hazardous (to him!) acts ever seen on stage, cabaret or street, throughout Europe, Asia, Australasia and Japan. Nellie completed Static Trapeze under Deb Pope in 1995 and taught fire performance and fire safety for the Circus Oz Adult Open Classes Program from 1998-2001.  He is also a qualified advanced rigger.

From balancing an axe on the chin whilst standing on a rola-bola 4 foot from the ground and simultaneously juggling three machetes, to blowing up a hot water bottle with his mouth until it bursts; playing a romantic tune on violin on one knee while balancing a rose on the nose; performing ‘lumberjack crunches’, sit-ups with an axe balanced on the chin, a stunt for which he is the world record holder (or the extreme version, on a bed of nails!), Finhead is guaranteed to provide any audience at any event with amazement, delight and thrills.

His other skills include slack-rope walking while juggling fire, knives or playing violin; body burning and fire eating; classy fire and fake fire poi routines to mesmerizing music; balancing virtually any object from a teaspoon to a 10 metre pole; juggling almost anything, handstands, the list goes on…

Finhead’s latest incredible stunt involves performing multiple sit-ups on a coffin-lidded Bed of Nails while balancing a giant flaming candelabra on his chin.

Of recent years, Nellie has been a slave to that harshest of mistresses, the violin.

Nellie has worked as a specialist stunt performer on TV productions such as Xena Warrior Princess, (training Lucy Lawless in fire breathing), Hercules, All Saints, Cooks, Snobs and Mary Bryant; and as a featured performer on the films Wolverine and Superman. 

Nellie also trained Sonja Schebeck to eat & breathe fire, perform body burning and the like.  Sonja worked in Strings on Fire in it's trio format in 2007.  She went on to create Concertos on Fire and The Freestyle Orchestra. 

Nellie has also worked with various bands as a stuntman, including a live performance with the Hilltop Hoods at the 2009 Aria Awards.  He was featured as a circus stuntman in Dallas Frasca’s film clip “Burnt Toast”, and starred as the villain in country artist, Steve Forde’s filmclip “Guns and Guitars”.

To see Finhead's solo stunts and video clips, visit his website:


Rachele (Mare) Wildmare

Co-Director and Performer

"It's a privilege to make our living by living our art.  We love sharing it!"

about Mare

Rachele Wildmare (also known as Mare)

Mare studied advanced violin and teacher training with acclaimed teacher, Lois Shepheard.  After studying Arts/Law, and  completing a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree at Monash University, Mare moved to Sydney where she played in original bands and corporate acts, including moZaiKa, Claude Hay Band, String Angels and Moodity.

She has performed professionally as a violinist in Asia, South America, Canada and Europe, and has done literally hundreds of  performances for corporate clients, and many more for weddings, festivals and classical concerts.

Mare's life has been driven by her passion for performance.  In 2001, her life changed after she purchased her first electric violin and a multi-effects unit.  Since then she has created crossover string projects with an emphasis on performance and on re-contextualising classical music, including VAMP, Strings on Fire, Liqueur Flambe, her corporate act WildmareViolin and her original compositions.

Finding circus, through partner "Nellie" was a revelation for Mare.  She was entranced with what it represented and how it could be combined with stringed instruments.  She had long been inspired by Cirque du Soleil, and their combination of music and circus, but further, loved the idea of the performers themselves doing stunts and music at the same time.

Her skills include fire eating, fire poi twirling, acrobalance and hula hoop (hula fiddle).

Other musical skills include music production and composition.  Her original songs can be found on her website:  She has won awards for film music composition:

Mare is a member of ACAPTA (Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Association), BMAC (Blue Mountains Artist's Company, APRA and AMCOS (Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Limited) and is a full member of the Music Teacher's Association of Australia (NSW branch).

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