The New England Flow Fest 2016 was held in Holderness NH at Owls Landing Campground this past weekend…it was 4 days of playing, learning and watching some fabulous performers…This was my first year attending the event and will definitely be planning to attend next year. I felt like I ran away to the circus for the weekend…and it rocked!
We spent the weekend camping….in tents….4 of us from the Cape trekked up and spent the four days attending various workshops, meeting some pretty cool people and expanding our horizons…
I haven’t been camping in over 20 years–scary how that sounds! Particularly when most of the attendees were barely 20 themselves! So we were definitley the oldsters in the group..but I personally think we did very well. Given the extreme weather conditions, sleeping on the ground, communal bathrooms and cooking over the campfire (or gas grill in our case)
Thursday and Friday were really hot and humid….and the hordes of hungry mosquitoes took us by surprise–we had bug spray with us–the healthy kind–no deet. But alas…it was not enough to fend off the monsters–so we had to break down and buy some Off–a giant can of Off, I may add–with as much deet as we could possibly find. I know, I know–Deet is bad for you and probably causes all kinds of horrendous diseases…but then again, so do mosquitoes nowadays…not wanting Triple E, Zika, West Nile or any other horrible bug born disease, not to mention all the red itchy marks they leave all over the body, we opted for the lesser of two evils. Although Sandy did bring her home made yard bug spray–some combination of mouthwash, stale beer and Epsom salts, which we sprayed generously around our pop up and the tent doors….and I do think it helped, since no mosquitoes invaded our little canvas homes.
So back to the weather–hot and humid–we drank gallons of water, iced tea, and coconut water–staying hydrated. And did our best to find shade when possible…but we had a few very sticky workshops…not that all the stickiness kept my hoop attached to the body…nope, my hoop had a mind of its own and wanted to visit with every other hooper in the vicinity…flinging this way and that quite randomly…allowing me the opportunity to squat, run and forward fold over and over and over again. All while mumbling my apologies to all the well behaved hoops out there….
So on Friday, after setting up our campsite, we went to wander around and found out that a whole world of artistry was being presented to us–we had no idea poi. puppy hammers, fire staffs, fan dancing, fire hoops, or contact juggling existed. But lo and behold, here was a gathering of a couple of hundred artists flaunting their talents….it was truly an eye opening experience. The talent was incredible and the number of hours devoted to practice was truly mind blowing. A whole little community of performance artists and movement lovers….Nirvana? I mean truly, where else can you walk around spinning your hula hoop and not be looked at sideways. It was quite a freeing experience.
Then the thunder and lightening came to visit…and they totally over stayed their welcome, as far as I am concerned….Friday night was a rather dampening experience for all…torrential downpours, way worse than cats and dogs–it was more like tigers and wolves…..crazy rain….and me in my tent….luckily my borrowed tent held up great…I was warm and dry and falling asleep to the sound of torrential rain mere inches from my face was a fabulously meditative experience. Luckily Saturday was mostly just drizzly and our workshops went on without a hitch, despite being rather dampish all day…we started with an awesome Hoopyasa class with Kat Suwalski and then Intro to Contact Juggling with Penelope Tate and then finished the day with Kassandra Morrison learning cool new hoop tricks. Oh and lest I forget we took two contact hooping and hoop folding classes with Mike Hayataka–That Hoop Guy..crazy new skills–I had no idea hoops could do so many things!
Peformance night was stunning with hoopers, aerial jugglers, poi artists and contact jugglers, staffers, hoopers and fanners all showcasing their skills and learning from each other. It was awesome! The teachers were great– totally patient and very willing to share their skills with all of us. even the newbies!
Now, what does all this have to do with creative movement? Basically anything that allows you to have fun movin’ and groovin’ it is a step in the right direction, and the more creative you can be in your movements the more strength, balance, flexibility and fluidity (not to mention juiciness) your are going to bring into all your movements in life. It’s not all about the body either–the brain needs to learn new things too–and we all know we want strong, fluid, flexible, balanced brains right….(not sure about juicy brains–that just doesn’t sound right)
I learned tons of new hoop tricks and even launched into a whole new challenge–contact juggling….a steep learning curve, but great fun….so this winter when I can’t hoop outside I shall be practicing my contact juggling skills.
I know this may seem like a frivolous waste of time to many–but I use hooping as a fun fabulous workout-totally building core strength, balance, hand-eye coordination, alignment and patience. But mostly I look forward to when I get into the flow and just start moving with the hoop without thinking about it– it is like a moving meditation. A total yoga off the mat experience when mind, body and soul meld and move together seamlessly. Which is the true definition of yoga.
Contact juggling will most likely totally test my patience to the limit, but I will be building strength and dexterity in my hands–hopefully offsetting the usual muscle use of massage, and working on balance…not to mention that learning new skills will help keep my brain growing new neural pathways and stretching my body to its limits in a fun way. As well as developing some frustration management skills….learning not to judge myself and learning to have compassion for my rather uncoordinated body…none of this comes easy to me..I have to work really hard to remember the steps, balance is not my strong suit, and I have the patience of a gnat….I was the person in aerobics who was in the back row and couldn’t ever get any of the moves down….and I still seek that position on any class I take–back row please! (that’s why I like yoga–you really don’t have to remember too much and it moves nice and slow…I can keep up!)
I am always seeking fun ways to keep the body moving in new directions….building strength and flexibility so I can move into that state of flow. Like my dad would say– “Doing what I have to do–so I can do what I want to do” right…I am just looking for the most fun ways of doing what I have to do so I can continue to do what I want to do long into old age….Playing is fun–playing keeps you young…learning new skills keeps the brain alive and young….our bodies are theoretically designed to keep us on this earth plane for like 110-120 years (or so I have heard) I figure at that rate I have another 60+ years on this planet…..so I want to be sure I can move, groove and think well into my golden years….
Hence my never ending quest for cool new movement practices–and my desire to share my experiences with others–because I want you all along for the ride!
Namaste Everyone 🙂
If you are interested in some bodywork or a private yoga session with me, please send me an email and we can go from there or find me most every Friday afternoon at the Cape Cod Beer Farmers Market from 3-6 until October.