Starting this morning and running, jumping, leaping, twisting, twirling, flipping and flying through the weekend, some hundreds of devotees of the flow arts will fill Lake Worth's waterfront park for the city's third annual Flow Fest.
A wide-ranging practice that incorporates elements of dance, acrobatics, yoga and martial arts, in which participants manipulate objects (often set afire) like hoops, staffs, rope and poi, its goals are 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.
Or as Flow Fest organizer and guiding genius Cassandra Tannenbaum told us: "Time disappears and you're absolutely engaged with whatever you're doing at the moment. The effects on consciousness can last a long time."
Cas, a Lake Worth resident (of course), was a hula hoop devotee initially. Beginning in 2001 while a student at New College, her first goal was to perform at the sunset parties at Mallory Square in Key West. She went on to study at HoopGirl, a San Francisco (of course) center, and received a teaching certificate in the practice.
The local festival, whose central thread is a series of workshops, came about because Cas grew tired of having to travel to study, and also because no visiting instructor's offerings combined all the various forms of flow.
The Flow Festival was, she says, "Originally just hoops. But people advocated for additional styles and it grew and grew and grew and grew. It just mushroomed. People come in from all over the country now and tell us 'It's the highlight of my year.'"
Flow Fest 3
Friday Nov. 1-Sun Nov. 3
Bryant Park, Lake Worth
Admission is free. Workshop participation is $50 daily/$125 for three-day pass
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