Flow Arts is commonly seen in street or event performances where as the host said, the goal is to impress rather than express. Hence, flow artists are forced to resort to tricks that amaze the audience and in the process are lost to the true expression of their art.
But a group of veteran flow artists hoped to change all that. Bravely, they staged the first ever Flow Arts Show at the Bulbs Studio in Makati last August 30, 2014. Nine artists wowed the audience, not with tricks, but with the raw emotion displayed in their performance.
In a very short show – approximately one hour for all of them – they managed to hypnotize us, flow arts enthusiasts and newbie audiences alike, not just with their expertise in their chosen props but with the magnificence of their flow. The emotions displayed were raw, the passions conveyed were pure and the way everything was presented was new.
Hanz on Buugeng
First to perform was Hans. I’ve seen him perform only twice and in each time, he flowed to the beat of drums so it was a treat to see him flow to canned music. His theme was soldier and he did justice to it by the way his expression remained fierce throughout the number. Even though there have been some mishaps one wouldn’t even notice for he remained composed and in the flow. I just wished he went a step further and completed the whole soldier package but then again I might have interpreted everything literally. Hands down, he’s still the best buugeng artist I’ve seen.
Oli on Poi
The seriousness of Hans performance was balanced by Oli’s playful one. His theme was first love and you can feel the innocence and sweetness of that first love memory in how he manipulated his props. His performance was so relaxed that if he was nervous I wouldn’t have known. His number had an overall playful atmosphere which showed just how playful and jolly he must be.
Paulino on Poi & Staff
Paulino is a known veteran in the flow arts. So when you think you have seen all that he can do, you’d be surprised that the guy, in expressing himself, actually brings the whole flow arts to an entirely new level. He did not just manipulate his props, he incorporated a story in his entire performance. A story that was refreshing to watch. The comedic relief of his entire performance was wonderful and truly entertaining. Through him, I saw that when you have a flow toy, your performance doesn’t revolve around it alone – to give the audience a truly spectacular show, you need to add story to your entire show.
Mic on Hoop & Staff
Where Paulino has been a sort-of comedic relief, Mic’s performance was one filled with emotion. It was in her performance that I found my connection to the flow arts. Her graceful movements seemingly oblivious to the audience in front of her really draw me in. I did not feel like I was watching her perform on stage, I felt like I was privy to her innermost emotions. She moved as if there was no one with her in the entire room. How she seamlessly moved from the flags, to the staff to the hoop was mesmerizing. Every turn of her body filled me with awe.
I guess in every performance, there is that artist you’d connect to and for me, that was Mic. One day, I hope to be able to perform and express myself as well as she does.
Clair on Hoop
Clair’s performance was also another refreshing number for me. In my limited exposure to the Flow Arts, I’ve seen her perform as much as I’ve seen Hanz. So when she went on stage, make-up and all, and danced to a girly song with her hoop – I was hooked. I was transported to the innocence of my youth wherein the challenges of adulthood were unknown and all my cares are what I would consider now as childish, girlish worries. Her performance was refreshing to watch as it was light-hearted yet full of soul at the same time.
Thea on Hoop & Poi
Thea’s performance to me was theater at its best! Some might find it weird but to me I found it supremely entertaining! At this point, I wished the organizers allowed us to record the show, even on our cellphones, for our personal consumption. Her performance was one I would love to watch again & again and show to people. She definitely elevated flow arts to a whole new level as how she used her poi and her hoop was not the conventional ways they were used. All throughout her number she never lost character. Yes, it was a crazy number but it was a truly magnificent work of art!
Alvin on Isohoops
I don’t know if Alvin’s physical absence was intentional but his video number showing how he effortlessly manipulated the mini hoops was also mesmerizing. I just wondered – if it was that mesmerizing on video, how mesmerizing can it be in person?
Star on Hoop
Perhaps the most spectacular performance of the entire evening was Star’s. For the first half of his number, he didn’t even use any props and yet he captured all our attention. You can see that he was a performer through and through. How he incorporated the hoop as he wove his story was amazing! In fact, the entire performance wasn’t even about the hoop! It was about him and how he bared his soul to the entire audience. The last part, where he danced effortlessly while quotes on insecurities were flashed on screen was captivating and moving. His bravado in admitting his weakness was inspiring.
Star – we would never think you have such insecurities for to us, you are perfect! You are someone to be admired.
Ehrlich on Leviwand
The last number of the night proved to be the most moving of them all. I am personally biased towards the flow wand as it has been my first choice of a prop. I have seen Ehrlich performed with it in festivals and street jams and easily I can see his expertise. But for him to wove a story on dreams and the words used, plus how he delivered it, brought performance with a flow wand to a whole new different level. It was no longer about the “magic” surrounding the prop. It was no longer about the illusion or the tricks one can perform with it. It was now about the expression – of one’s dreams, frustrations and fantasies. It was now about the admission of a painful reality. It was now about the realization that such reality can actually be turned into something life changing.
I liked how he framed his words throughout the entire number especially towards the end when he admitted that perhaps he can’t be superman who can fly, or the best martial artist with killer martial moves, or the person who can move things with his mind. I sincerely hoped I could have recorded that night so I can go back to his words. In the end, he said, he might not be able to move things with his mind but he can move things with his heart.
And so inspite of it being a short show, it was one filled with soul. Indeed, what these nine brave individuals did was to give birth to a new kind of art – one that not only awes but inspires. They have shown how, with passion and courage, one can elevate his craft and reach new heights. For truly, I will never look at the flow arts in the same light again.
When I was first introduced to it, I saw it as an organic community where expression is encouraged and there are no hard defined rules to follow. What I saw that night was a deeper exploration of the art – one that holds much promise. It was a journey to the depths of one’s soul – a means to reveal not just talent, but passion, too often buried deep within.
Note: Since taking pictures and videos were not allowed, I posted pictures from the Flow Arts Show Official Facebook Page. All credit to them. Also, I hope to gain permission from Ehrlich to share his piece here. It’s such a moving piece.