The Flow Arts

“Flow Arts” is an overarching term for the emerging movement-based artforms that integrate dance and creative exploration of movement with skill-based prop manipulation. The Flow Arts draw from a multitude of ancient and modern movement disciplines, from taichi and Maori poi spinning, to martial arts and juggling, to circus arts, hula hooping and modern day firedancing.

What is it?

Sometimes called the “spinning arts” (not to be confused with spinning stationary bikes), the Flow Arts have evolved to encompass more than poi and staff spinning to include the artistic manipulation of many other props, such as hoops, swords, balls, fans and levitation wands. New props constantly emerge to create fresh possibilities.

The Flow Arts are at once a sport and a leisure activity, a new way to dance, explore and interact with the physical world, a movement meditation practice, a fun and creative outlet, and a serious technical pursuit of mastery. For many of its practitioners, it is a way to achieve the mind-state known as “flow”.

Many people first encounter the Flow Arts through firedancing, which is basically dancing with props on fire. It is hard not to notice someone dancing with fire, especially if you have never seen it before! While firedancing has propelled and attracted many to the artform, most novice firedancers quickly find themselves loving the movement, and prioritizing finding their flow over playing with fire. Many develop a lasting flow practice with non-fire props.

The Flow State

No discussion on “flow” is complete without a reference to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a leading researcher in positive psychology, who defined Flow as the mental state in which a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity in which they are engaged.

Also according to Csikszentmihalyi, creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives. Having devoted his life to studying what makes people truly happy, he notes that people live more fully when involved in creative pursuits, and discusses the notion of flow as the creative moment when a person is completely involved in an activity for its own sake.

There is no question that the Flow Arts continually bring people to a state of Flow. There is something about focusing on the prop that empties our minds and helps us focus on the challenge at hand. The countless number of people who have picked up a pair of poi never to put them down, and who have fallen in love with the hoop or the wand at first flow attest to the fact.

Who does the flow arts?

You don’t have to wear baggy pants to spin poi or booty shorts to get down with the hoop! Avid flow arts practitioners come from all walks of life – the FFA board comprises two lawyers, two entrepreneurs, a writer and a movie industry professional, and they are all fire dancers and flow artists.

To date the flow arts has tended to attract young and older adults looking for a joyful, engaging physical activity that has enough challenges to keep things interesting, while also having a gentle enough learning curve where most people can find success early on and continue improving. Unlike many sports, the flow arts does not require specialized venues and the equipment is affordable, portable, and fairly easily accessible.

You can find communities of flow artists all over the US and the world. The most visible people can be found performing on stage or dancefloors at festivals, or practicing in city parks. Many urban centers from San Francisco to Singapore have open spinjams where practitioners come to share skills, hang out and foster community.

There is something awesome in the Flow Arts for just about everybody at all levels of ability. Because of its very nature of mastery and exploration, the opportunities for challenge, achievement and creativity, and hence Flow, are boundless.

A Word From Burning Dan

Courtesy of

Flow Arts is a fast-growing fitness and meditation practice that blends play, exercise and dance into a fun and healthful activity that moves the body, stills the mind and uplifts the spirit. It’s a physical workout that is also a brain booster, a relaxing way to chill out, and a compelling performance art.

The concept of Flow Arts is simple: learn to move in harmony with an inanimate object, so that it becomes an animated extension of your body, then flow with it in ways that look and feel totally awesome.

With enough practice, you can learn to flow with almost anything. Staffs, hoops, batons and even spheres all make wonderful dance partners and teachers once you’ve grasped each tool’s unique dynamics. The basic techniques are easy to pick up, but the adaptations are infinite, allowing for wide variation in personal style and expression. In the rapidly growing global Flow Arts community, there is still ample opportunity to make and share novel discoveries.

Support the Flow Arts!

We rely on the support of our community and on people like you who believe in the power of the flow arts to transform lives. Please consider donating today to Fund the Flow Arts!

Your donation supports the Seed Fund grants, general overhead costs, and the Flow Show.