Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 12, 2016

Flow Arts emerge as a form of meditation

Senior James Lenihan performs a flow art routine with his poi. (Julian Blye/TKS)

Senior James Lenihan performs a flow art routine with his poi. (Julian Blye/TKS)

Passersby gaze confusedly upon a dazzling display of light, fire and dance. What they are witnessing is a combination of movement and juggling known as Flow Arts. Since the club began, Flow Arts are becoming a more present art form on campus.

Sophomore Tom Trudeau described that flow arts can include anything that involves the manipulation of objects accompanied with dance-like movement. He said that the art combines the creativity and free flowing characteristics of dance with the technical skill of juggling.

Trudeau’s interest in Flow Arts started with watching YouTube videos of performacnes sophomore year of high school. He was inspired by the intricacy of the dances and wanted to try it for himself.

“I had some tennis balls and some really long tube socks and I tied a knot at the end of them for a handle,” he said. “I was just in my driveway waving those around and whacking myself in the face.”

Senior James Lenihan also began spinning with tube socks and tennis balls, but was inspired after seeing Flow Arts at a music festival with a friend of his who is also involved in flow art. He and Trudeau generally flow to electronic music, but will do so to any music that’s upbeat and energetic.

Both are involved in the Flow Arts Club on campus, though Trudeau has taken on an unofficial leadership role while Lenihan frequents the club in a more casual manner and says that he doesn’t have time to take on a leadership position. They are hoping that the club continues to expand as more people gain an interest in the art.

Some of the most common sub-categories of Flow Arts include poi, which are weights at the end of strings, hooping and staff.

“I probably don’t enjoy anything as much as I do spinning poi,” Lenihan said. “It’s both a stress reliever and a skill that I can see myself progressing at.”

Both Lenihan and Trudeau agree that one of the most rewarding aspects of flow art is the peaceful state achieved while flowing. Trudeau explained the scientific aspect of flowing, stating that the blood flow decreases in one’s frontal cortex while flowing. The person flowing is not making conscious decisions, and is allowing things to happen on their own.

“A lot of people describe it as peak-existence or peak-humanity,” he said. He said that the lights in the poi stimulate the brain by activating both sides of the brain.

Trudeau describes that he would like to continue his involvement in the flow arts after he finishes school. He hopes to get involved with a collective in the city and has interest in being hired as a Flow Arts instructor.

For Lenihan, the opportunity provides him an outlet to explore the art at his own pace.

“When I’m flowing I just kind of zone out and get into a flow state,” Lenihan said. “And it’s really peaceful to only focus on that one thing, or not be focused on anything while still doing something.”

While the club has been active since last year, Trudeau and Lenihan note that it appears to be transitioning from a group of individuals merely meeting in the same place at the same time to one that seems to be working toward a goal of actual performances.

Trudeau notes that the Flow Arts are geared more towards self-satisfaction and progress than it is toward performances. He hopes to eventually be able to reserve a room to put on an official performance.

Both Trudeau and Lenihan aim to spread awareness about the Flow Arts and their benefits as a source of mental stimulation and as a creative outlet. They encourage anyone who has seen what they do to come observe or try it out themselves.

Sam Jacobson

Tags:  art campus Emerges Flow meditation

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