The Philly Flow & Circus Arts Meetup is designed to bring together folks in the Philadelphia area interested in the Flow Arts and Circus Arts so they can learn and train together in a safe & supportive environment.
For those who don't know, "Flow Arts" are the practice of learning to manipulate an inanimate object and move in harmony with it so that it becomes an animated extension of your body. Flow Arts are also sometimes referred to as Object Manipulation, Spinning, Juggling and/or Equilibristics. Flow Arts encompass a variety of physical art forms and draws from a wide array of cultural traditions, including:
* Indigenous Performance Arts: Maori poi dance, Samoan fire knife, Native American hoop dance, West African kashaka, Burmese chinlone
* Martial Arts Weapon Forms: sword, staff, nunchuks, rope dart, war fan, etc.
* Chinese Variety Arts: diabolo, devil sticks, flying fork, meteor, plate spinning
* Traditional Toss Juggling: balls, clubs, rings, scarves, knives, torches
* Vaudeville Juggling: hat, cane, umbrella, cigar boxes, shaker cups, flair bartending
* Parlor Magic: flow wand, crystal ball manipulation, linking rings, coin & card flourishing, card throwing
* Wild West Shows: trick roping, whip cracking, knife throwing, gun spinning
* Twirling & Color Guard: baton, tall & short flag, rifle, sabre, air blade
* Rhythmic Gymnastics: club, ball, rope, hoop, ribbon
* Tribal Belly Dance: fan, veil, isis wings, scimitar, cane, candelabra, palm torch
* Raves & Circuit Parties: glowsticking, glowstringing, orbits, gloving, flagging
While many of these disciplines were practiced separately for centuries, in the 1990s a general interest in object manipulation arose among the younger generation, and crosstraining in multiple arts became popular. New methods & new props were invented, and fire was added to many of them as "fire dancing" became more mainstream. The term "Flow Arts" was invented to encompass all these arts. The name is derived from the name of the optimal mental state to achieve while performing - "Flow" - a concept from Positive Psychology that describes an effortless level of operation in which a person is fully immersed in an activity and experiences a feeling of deep focus & awareness.
"Circus Arts" are another diverse group of physical performance arts that all share a common origin in travelling circuses, boardwalk carnivals, cabarets & vaudeville theatres. These arts are united by a common purpose -- they confront audiences with the exotic, the marvelous, the titillating and the strange in order to evoke a sense of wonder & awe by turning everyday expectations upside down. In the last several decades, a new movement known as "Contemporary Circus Arts" or "Nouveau Cirque" has revolutionized the circus by introducing professional athletic training typical of Olympic gymnastics and an artistic sensibility drawn from modern dance & avant-garde theatre. Animals acts and clowns are typically excluded, and the focus is more on the physical virtuosity of the performers. This has coincided with a revival in other types of traditional variety shows as well, such as Sideshow, Burlesque & Belly Dance.
In addition to the Juggling Arts listed above (which can be considered both Flow Arts & Circus Arts), the Contemporary Circus Arts include:
* Acrobatics: tumbling, hand balancing, adagio & banquine, chair balancing, trampolining, Russian bar, German wheel, Cyr wheel, Korean plank
* Aerial Performance: static, swinging & flying trapeze, aerial silks, aerial straps, aerial hoop/lyra, cloud swing, corde lisse, Spanish web, Chinese pole
* Balancing Acts: tightrope, slackline, Roman ladder, perch pole, unicycle, penny-farthing, pogo stick, rola bola, rolling globe, walking stilts, spring stilts
* Sideshow: sword swallowing, fire breathing & fire eating, regurgitation, strongman feats, contortion & escape arts, body piercing & suspension, fakir acts like the bed of nails & firewalking
* Exotic Dance & Neo-Burlesque: acro-dance, tribal belly dance, mujra, hula, chorus line, shadow dancing, pole dancing, classic burlesque, aerial & acro-burlesque, fire burlesque, fetish burlesque
The 21st century has witnessed a resurgence of these art forms that were once almost lost & forgotten. They've now been rediscovered as exciting forms of exercise that tone muscles & burn fat while increasing one's overall agility and coordination. The psychological benefits are becoming recognized as well. The Flow Arts are now seen as dynamic meditative disciplines that decrease stress, increase mental focus & brain hemispheric synchronization, and build spatial & kinesthetic awareness. Likewise, Circus Arts are being recognized as awesome tools for expanding one's comfort zone, rediscovering one's sense of adventure, and challenging one's preconceptions about the human body's limitations.
Whether you're a curious beginner or a seasoned veteran of the Flow & Circus Arts, we hope you'll come out & join us!