Florida Flow Fest: Movement Arts Festival Celebrates Body, Mind, and Spirit

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It's an offbeat event perfectly suited to the offbeat city of Lake Worth, a three-day festival of colorfully-clad dancers, acrobats, jugglers, martial artists, and mistresses and masters of movement arts of the most exotic kind, gathered in the city's waterfront park to spin and bounce and twirl through the day and into the night.

Last year's Flow Fest was New Times' pick for Best Festival 2013. This year's incarnation, its fourth, has been dubbed "Synergy," and founder and guiding genius Cass Tannenbaum says it includes new workshops (some free to the public) and new categories of performance rarely seen in these parts.

The varied and dazzling forms of display that make up the flow arts typically involve the manipulation of objects (often set afire) like hoops, staffs, rope, and poi. But as a practice, its goal is transcendence -- and a good time.

As a path to personal growth, flow draws on the teachings of the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his key work, "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience." As he explained it to Wired magazine, the intense focus on body movement paired with the manipulation of objects can have this result:

The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost.

New to this year's Flow Fest is the category of aerial arts, in which performers climb, wrap and suspend themselves in silks, and buugeng, in which performers spin and manipulate S-shaped objects to create optical illusions known as the "visual kaleidoscope."

The Florida Flow Fest has taken on so much life it now draws performers from as far off as the Midwest and, in the case of buugeng, from Brazil. Cass plans to take the show on the road, too, with flow arts festivals in Austin TX and Asheville NC next year.

It's hectic, Cass told us but, she said, "I still try to incorporate the spirit of flow in my everyday life and with the people I meet."

Here's a taste of last year's festival:

Florida Flow Fest. Friday to Sunday, October 10 to 12, at Bryant Park, Lake Ave. and S. Golfview Rd., Lake Worth. Admission is free. Workshop tickets cost $40 and three-day passes cost $125. Visit floridaflowfest.com.

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers South Florida news and culture. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.

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