After 3 days of the Florida Flow Festival and a day of beach time and recuperation, I return home to Carrboro. Body tired, heart full. I am grateful to have shared this time with new and old friends. The weekend was full of workshops and events. But more importantly, it was filled with opportunity to meet new friends and deepen already existing relationships.
Having gone to a variety of hoop & multi-prop retreats over the past few years, I find myself increasingly invested in the realm of community and relationship nurtured in these gatherings. As I've circled with some of the same individuals year after year, I cherish the time to meet people as individuals walking a similar life path, learn with them about career and life, sharing stories, dreams and experiences. A few years ago, we mostly geeked out about about all things hoop related, I find that we now share aspects of our lives, both struggles and celebration, the silly and the sad, love and heartbreak..and endless laughs. Each night held its own bit of magic and fun as we descended upon Lake Worth, Fl.
Organized by Casandra Tannenbaum of Hoops So Fly, this festival was held in downtown Lake Worth, Fl. The venue was a beautiful, flat & grassy public park sprinkled with palms and banyon trees along the inter-coastal waterway. The venue was only a 15 minute walk from the ocean and 5 minute walk to downtown bars, restaurants and shops. However, this weekend left little time for the beach with back-to-back workshops running morning 'til night offering a wide variety of flow arts including hoop, poi, partner poi, contact juggling, double staff, contact staff as well as dance arts such as W. African, belly dance, breakdance, capoeira. This festival was packed with opportunity to expand your movement boundaries, gain new perspectives on your favorite flow practice and try out new tools.
Workshops were offered by many Florida-based flow artists as well as by master instructors flown in from California, Colorado, Oregon and North Carolina. Locals such as Jodi Jainchill, Abby Albaum, Bonnie Brown, Jeremiah Collins, Heather Phoi, Debby Carrigan and all the volunteers were radiant and hospitable like the Florida sunshine.
Among the other master teachers were:
Rainbow Michael (Colorado): Full of love and inspiration for laughter, Rainbow is one of my brilliant partners in Synergy Firehoops. He taught mini hoop manipulation & poi yoga fusion and offered a mini hoop performance that continues to unfold new geometrical magic with precision & grace.
Zan & Aurora (Oregon): This duet is something to behold. Recently married, this couple taught both partner poi technique and a workshop focused on the abandon from technique into full body expression and play with poi.. This couple are so beautifully in sync with their movement styles. Their choreographed partner fire poi piece was stunning. You can visit this dynamic couple at their own retreat in Oregon, Pacific Fire Gathering.
Anah “Hoopalicious” Reichenbach (California): Hoop elder and goddess. Anah opened the weekend with “Transformation in hoop dance”. We were able to catch glimpse a bit of Anah's raw, graceful dance at a teacher's appreciation dinner inspired by some old school hip hop. Her flow reminded me of the inspiration she offered me the last time we danced in Florida, 8 years ago when I first met her. While Anah didn't perform, she accessed a new role in this festival as the MC of the showcase. I love witnessing Anah's continued growth and maturity as an elder within the community.
Brecken Rivara (California): Often referred to as a tsunami, Brecken has really grown into herself as a hooper and an instructor. It was fabulous to witness the evolution of her teaching since her first workshop at a retreat at Hoop Con 2009. Her class, Body Conscious Barrel Rolls & Figure 8 Navigation and general movement are as inspiring as ever.
Nick Guzzardo (Colorado): Hoop athlete. When I watch Nick hoop, I feel full of excitement and giddiness. His flow is powerful, refined, delightful to witness. And even as a hooper new to teaching, he was absolutely natural in the teaching role. His workshop on Head hooping and the Flow of Currents pushed my boundaries of movement into new, exciting territory. If Nick hits a town near you, check him out!
Lester Mooney (California): While I've spent time with his sisters and partners Hannah & Kamala, this was the first time I've met Lester Mooney of Fire Groove. His poi class helped me break through some sticky spots that should surely deepen my flow experience and his double staff performance was epic! Lester brought powerful flow, 8 years of experience and loads of laughs to the festival.
Richard Hartnell (California): Recently introduced to the larger hoop community for his video about Flow for FlowToys in Berkeley. Richard is a absolutely mesmerizing contact juggler. He lead an intriguing roundtable discussion on Flow, offered a workshop and a flawless performance.
Tammy Firefly (California): Absolutely beautiful and rounded in her skills, Tammy offered a workshop on tools that crossed disciplines and added insight for poi, hoop & double staff spinners. She kicked off the weekend with aerial silks workshops and performed with Lester Mooney. It was a delight to break through some techniques together!
Veronika “Kit” Petra (California): While Kit didn't teach, she did blow me away with her performance this weekend. She combines fine tuned musicality, technical skill and an amazing stage presence. It was fabulous to connect with her. Look for her on our artists' page soon!
I (Julia) went to this festival as a teacher, student, performer and vendor. It is always an honor to be asked to share my current practice, twin hoop revelations as well as our Synergy creations. It is also a blessing to receive new insight while in my own class space. I was inspired by my students and am excited to go deeper into the techniques we explored as well as the art of teaching advanced workshops. It just goes to show that releasing and sharing comes back multi-fold.
The Synergy crew found many to be intrigued with our newest creations about to hit our website. Rainbow Michael and I were excited to preview our new removable spine firehoops, double staffs and our hot off the press, custom-crafted colored polypro tubing. It was awesome to see the bright colored tubing flying high in the Florida blue skies.
Thanks for the fabulous time Florida! Your community is hospitable and inspiring. The fish tacos delicious. I'm grateful for the opportunity to witness so many artists in their element, in the flow state. As we bounce ideas and energy between us, we create infinite possibilities in all realms.
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