Circus artists return to Center for Arts at the Armory. “Everyone can flow.”
At the most recent Somerville ArtBeat in July, the performers from Esh Circus Arts stole the show, flipping and dipping in the middle of it all during the height of the festivities. We realized it right there on the spot—we need to see these kinds of acrobatics more often.
Lucky for us, the Boston Flow Show will return to the Center for Arts at the Armory on Friday, Nov. 4. The “celebration of the intersection of movement arts and mindfulness, creative expression, and inner pursuit of mastery” is a major deal in the flow world, with “talent from across the northeast gathering to showcase various forms of ‘object manipulation’ such as juggling, hooping, levitation wand, poi, and more.”
It’s also family-friendly, “even featuring a post-show ‘Flow Jam’ where anyone is welcome to come learn and play.” We asked director Justin Warren about how it’s flowing as organizers prepare for their third year.
First of all, you caught our attention with “circus arts.” Your show incorporates everything from hooping to juggling. Is “circus arts” the all-encompassing term? There’s also a mention of “object manipulation.”
Flow arts, circus arts, spinning, juggling—whatever you call it, it’s about having fun and pushing yourself to improve a skill. These days ‘circus arts’ is indeed a pretty wide, umbrella term, and the flow arts is a subsection dedicated to combining these skills with dance, creative movement, and/or self-expression. Oh, and ‘object manipulation’ is whenever you take a thing—be it a ball, a hoop, a stick, whatever—and use dexterity to move it, toss it, balance it, etc.
Going back 50 or even 100 years, were these acts and arts largely considered to be artistic?
I’d say the biggest thing that’s changed in recent years is accessibility and public awareness of these skills. In the old days, people would need to go out of their way to even witness the magic of a skilled juggler or acrobat —but these days it’s just a YouTube click away. The internet especially has created a great opportunity for artists to connect, learn, and seek inspiration together. In fact, our mission with the Flow Show is to spread the fun to the wider public—everyone can flow.
How big or small is this community? And what other groups or communities does it intersect with?
The community is amazing, and worldwide. Dedicated flow arts festivals happen all over the place. The northeast in particular is well known for having an active teaching and performance scene. There’s all sorts of fascinating intersections, too—anything from acrobats and gymnasts, artists and musicians, magicians, actors, you name it. I think anyone playful at heart will feel right at home in the flow community.
Tell us a little more about the movement aspect of this, and how it applies to people doing some of this at home for exercise and healing purposes.
A great part about practicing flow arts is that all you need is your body, your mind, and your prop. It may come as a surprise that many spinners really don’t even enjoy being on a stage—at its core, practicing flow arts is deeply personal. And absolutely, it definitely serves as a great exercise routine at home. The psychologist in me also has to add that it can have great mental benefits, too: the famous researcher Dr. Csikszentmihalyi (I know, quite a mouthful) coined the term ‘flow’ to describe the incredible mental state attained by people when they’re really dialed in, focused, and passionate about the activity they’re engaged in.
How does the Flow Jam work?
For the purposes of the upcoming Flow Show, the flow jam is an informal meet and greet with all the performers, where anyone can come up and learn something new and fun. We actually get the audience to clear all the chairs out of the way, so we’ll have the whole performance hall to jam together.
What is the mission of the nonprofit behind all this and how does that tie into this event and the work the group does?
[Points us to the Fund the Flow Arts site]. Though I will add: Flow Shows have occurred in multiple cities around the country, for over a decade. It’s a proud community tradition at this point. I actually performed in my first one 10 years ago, so I’m excited to be helping continue the tradition moving forward.
Finally, how should one prepare for a Flow Jam and Flow Show? What kind of outfit is Flow-propriate?
Haha, stay comfy and have fun. The most important thing to bring is a sense of play—and get ready to enjoy the show.
Tickets on Eventbrite