Flow/Circus: A Rebuttal

It was both a pleasure and a sad moment for me to read your article proclaiming yourself as a Flow Artist. The sadness is not for the proclamation – I’m very happy you have found something that defines you, for all I think you have done it for the wrong reasons – but for your misguided view of one of the loves of my life: Circus. 

Firstly, I’d like to address your comments about circus artists in particular– not really with reference to how you feel they look down on Flow Artists (which is very much a 2 way street, I must add) – but rather your unfortunate statement – I’ve yet to see any of the tech spinners who’ve embraced circus as their savior take up any of these elements of performance as noble goals‘. I can only guess that you are using an entirely US-centric model, as you couldn’t be more wrong about the rest of the world. Of course there are many who strive simply to be as technically able as possible, with no regard to performance, but I really do believe you need to get out there and explore a much wider world than you have done to this point.

As a long-term member of the circus convention community, I also find your claim that the Flow Arts community is in some way more friendly and more open genuinely laughable – I actually laughed aloud in disbelief reading it. I was made very welcome on my travels in the US at Flow Festivals, and for that I am eternally grateful, but I have felt an equal warmth across the world at circus festivals, cabaret and variety conventions, as well as in completely removed fields (in a sense) such as dance, theatre and music. Open sharing and peer-led workshopping are as old as the hills and to claim some sort of exclusivity on them is mind-boggling. Once again, it’s clear that there are some in our fairly sizeable community who judge only on technical ability and celebrity, but that is unquestionably present in the Flow Arts too.

Finally, I would also question your equating ‘Circus’ with ‘traditional circus or Cirque du Soleil’ – as if these were the only two options. To me that implies you have no real understanding of the art form beyond a personal view and were I to be uncharitable and unprofessional would give me cause to ignore your opinion as I could any uneducated audience member. However, as a trained performer and experienced circus artist I prefer to meet ignorance with debate and information, and a clear belief that my work is a two-way thing in which my audience is as important (if not more so) as that which is presented. This extends to my written work too, so for starters I’ll direct you to have a read of the wiki entry for contemporary circus – wiki/Contemporary_circus . As an artfrom it is growing exponentially with ballooning audiences, and it is now being taught worldwide to a hugely expanding student base.

It seems to me that you have been unlucky in your circus experiences and that this has led you to label yourself accordingly – I really encourage you to expand your horizons and see the progressive artistic and educational work that is being made today by what is in the majority a highly skilled, open, friendly, international community. In time I hope that it will change your mind about circus!

I look forward to sharing some circus (and some flow) with you again soon.

Yours sincerely

Rob

reblogged with permission from Rob’s Blob

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