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Self-Expression Through Flow Arts

Posted on April 14 2020

Self-Expression Through Flow Arts

“You can only be a beginner once, so enjoy the journey of learning” I invite you to the world of flow arts! Laugh at your mistakes, take joy in the successes, and most importantly, breathe and have fun! I would like to give the disclaimer that I am not a professional hooper, but I do want to offer some words of inspiration for those that have wanted to learn, but maybe have a fear that it’s too difficult, or that they won’t be as good as the performers they’ve seen on social media, but I promise you the magic comes from your heart. Whether you want to freestyle and flow like a forest fairy or be a sharp technical ninja, you can begin the journey of self-expression and find a new outlet for self-love and acceptance. 

The magic of festivals offers so many different types of stimuli. From the awe-inspiring stage engulfing our mind space with music and bright lights to the thematic dancers grooving to the beat, and one of my personal favorites- the participators in the crowd! I’m sure you know by now, that festivals are home to the flow arts. Flow arts can also be known as prop manipulation. You’ve seen beautiful flow toys such as hoops, poi, leviwands, gloves, or even the basic form of flow art which is dancing, but I want to specifically put the focus on flow with a prop. 

The first time I saw an LED hula hoop was EDC Orlando in 2012 and it was a male spinning by the house stage. I never forgot that feeling of being hypnotized by the bright colored circles overlapping themselves and his calm demeanor as he spun with precision.

Hooper: Deanne Love

It wouldn’t be until the next year that I decided to buy my first hoop. At that point in time, I couldn’t even regular waist hoop. I bought a very large heavy 42” HDPE hoop. I started from scratch. One of my all-time favorite hoopers is Deanne Love. I really enjoy her gentle approach to hooping and her constant reminder to hoopers to take it easy, have fun, and keep practicing. She’s an incredible guru and has a plethora of tutorials from beginner to advanced. I would say, Deanne Love taught me what I personally believe is the most important aspect to flow art, which is dancing and performing with energy. Using your whole body to express yourself. I could go on with a list of inspirational hoopers, but that would take a whole other post! It’s easy to get caught up in technicalities because there are so many of them. I honestly think the number of tricks and illusions you can learn is possibly infinite. 

I’ll quickly go over 3 types of flow energy and I will be using hooping as the example.

The first one is the simple act of expression.

This flow is really based on how the performer feels. This artist might have their eyes could be closed with a huge smile on their face, and really letting themself get lost in the feeling of flow. The artist displaying expressive flow energy also likes to interact with any spectators; they might wink through an isolation because they know that sharing the vibe is what it’s all about. They may not have an arsenal of tricks, but they have enough to elaborate on and make themselves shine with shared energy.

Flow artist: @Jess_Firebolly 


The second type of flow energy is technical.

This flow energy really focuses on unleashing a killer amount of technical moves like complicated tosses, rolls, hands spins, escalators, and jump-throughs. If all that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. The tech ninja took hours, days, and months to perfect their movies. The learning curves they went through were quite the challenge and caused some mental strain, but that’s okay, this artist knows to take breaks between lessons and is disciplined to come back to it. The tech ninja is a calculating machine that leaves you wondering if they are from another planet.

Photo credit:


Lastly, the third flow artist is the performer

This artist combines the first two energies and displays a flow blown show that displays positivity, interaction, while masterfully executing tricks and illusions.

Which way do you want to express yourself? Whichever way you choose, don’t forget to share that beautiful smile of yours!

I wanted to share my opinion about the different types of flow energy to illustrate that you can pick up a prop and start from the very beginning and learn enough to allow yourself to get out there. I know what it’s like to feel intimidated, or feel embarrassed when you whack someone in the face with a prop, just focus on having fun, be respectful and light-hearted and you’ll have a good time out there. All great masters were once timid students. Flow arts is for everyone! 

Hopper: Elisa at Hulaween 2018

Something to keep in mind is the psychological understanding of what the flow state is— becoming completely evolved in an activity where time ceases to exist, and the ego dissolves. You will find so much love for life and for yourself that it will illuminate all those around you with the shining light that is in you, and in all of us. 

I will leave you with this, “Don’t just spectate; participate!” So go get that flow toy you’ve been so curious about, and enjoy the journey of learning <3 

Author: Elisa Lopez 

IG: bassxpanda 


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