Kipper Martin and Nikki Monette hoop in Alberta, Canada
Practice: Technical or Casual?
Flow Artists are more casual about practice. When they get together it’s about bonding with each other, making up silly ideas, having fun and being the the flow of the moment. If they are not interested in being social then the practice is about connecting with themselves in a holistic way. They are free of self-consciousness, fully immersed in the prop and their body movement. They are not considering the outside appearance of their work, since it is about connection to their inside self. Flow Artists spend more time on their business models, their classes, their tutorial videos, community building and their promotion than they do practice.
Jugglers practice technique more, and do so obsessively. They are focused on the outside appearance of their technique and how it looks to others at all times. They use mirrors to increase self-consciousness of their movements. They are focused on their bodies in a descrete way, disconnecting different sections of the body in relation to the specific movement for the desired aesthetic. They bond by showing new conceptual ideas, aka impressing each other. They exchange ideas about technique, to learn from each other then go and try their new idea 100 times in a corner to get it perfect. They are fully focused, but it’s more about how to get it right for a later time, and less focused on how they feel in that moment. Jugglers spend almost all their time on technique, and are more interested in spending their time perfecting their juggling for an act or a full show. They also do community building (conventions & clubs) so they can share skills with each other.
There is a drastic difference in the ratio of Male to Female between Flow Arts festivals and Juggling festivals. (There are differences in European juggling festival scene, but isn’t hugely different, considering in 17 countries, the EJA doesn’t have a single female country representative, or female member of the Board of Directors). Hooping Festivals are feminine dominated, juggling festivals are masculine dominated. Hooping usually falls on the 6 range of the scale of juggling to flow. Juggling, obviously is at the 0 baseline. Poi, on the other hand, was once so female dominated that, as Isa GlitterGirl states in this thread men would say that it’s “Too feminine” for a man to do. By about 2005, this changed, and now, the large majority of people spinning poi is male. Poi became very technical, and it’s place on the juggling to flow scale changed from all flow, to very close to juggling. And since those olden days of rejection from the juggling world, It has largely been accepted in the juggling world now, to the point where many people have begun juggling 5 poi. Different props have different appeal to genders – staff spinning, fire fans, etc. each have dominate gender biases.These different gender dynamics changes the atmosphere of the of the festivals a lot in the ways described above.
Holistic or Technical Growth?
The Flow Arts are focused on the process of learning and growing and becoming a more whole self. It’s goals focus not on the result of practice, but the expression and how we get to a higher level together. It considers where we came from and where we are going, and that where you are now is a part of a process. You gain the most respect by giving honestly, authentically and fully to the community. Your participation is the goal.
The juggling festivals do find those values, but the result of your practice and technique is the main goal. The moment of demonstration is the most important in the grand scheme of things. Your connections are interesting, and the friendships are tight, but you are the most respected if you can perform in that moment you get on stage (or say “hey look at this!”).
The audience at a Flow festival is focused on their expression of self and the grace of the person in their moment to shine. The specific goal of the community is how that person adds to the community, and how they are growing within that community. The Juggling Festival Scene can be critical – they have a “been there, seen that” attitude because they focus on technique. The basic techniques have usually been done before.