By Jaimie Julia Winters
On Wednesday nights, Porter Park is a circus.
There are jugglers, poi spinners, hula hoopers and more.
“Any fellow jugglers interested in meeting up to practice passing?” Claire Cohen posted in the Montclair Watercooler Facebook group back in early June. Jean Savage, replied that she was eager to learn and they made a plan to meet at Porter Park in Montclair for a couple hours to practice. The Flow Meetup in Montclair was born.
Flow is the action or fact of moving along in a steady, continuous stream. That’s what the group of Montclairites are doing Wednesday nights in the park. To reach their “state of flow,” their tools are hula hoops, poi spinners, juggling pins.
Flow or spinning is described as free flow of dance using props with no choreography. The flow arts are a variety of movement-based disciplines including, but not limited to juggling, poi (tethered weights) spinning, hooping and dance. Focus and awareness, while performing expressive movements with props, create a state of moving meditation, or “flow.”
“We bet there are people doing this at home ‘secretly.’ We want to bring them out of the closet,” joked Cohen as she passes juggling pins with Savage.
Hooping or flow has become so popular that grassroots hoop jams, such as the Return to Roots Hoop Gathering in Medford, N.J., happen throughout the world almost every month of the year. An international celebration called World Hoop Day began in 2007, with this year’s scheduled to take place on Oct. 6. Hoopers perform in parks worldwide to raise money for charities and donate hoops to people who cannot afford them. The annual Burning Man festival has served as a melting pot for hoopers from all around the world to perform sharing their tricks and techniques.
The group in Montclair includes Cohen, who has been juggling since college; Savage, who just started with a hula hoop; Christine Davenport, who uses both ribbons and hoops, and Artist Izabelle Dean, a.k.a. The Amazing Izabelle, who has been a professional hooper for seven years.
“Hooping is nostalgic,” said Dean. “You let go and are a kid again.”
And it’s meditative.
“You have let go of all thoughts, except how do I keep this spinning,” said Dean, adding it’s a great workout as well.
Dean performs her hooping at fairs, concerts and parades. She recently appeared in Montclair’s July 4th parade as Wonder Woman; she also appeared at National Night Out.
She has wanted to share her love for hooping and credits Savage for creating the meetup group.
“She is really connected to the community, so we hope this grows,” Dean said.
The group will also be flowing at the Friends of Porter Park Picnic on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 4 p.m.
“Montclair Flow Meetup is a biweekly open meetup where hoopers, jugglers, poi spinners and flow makers of all kinds join in fun and sharing,” reads their Facebook page.
The Flow Meetups are held every other Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Porter Park, 129 Orange Road. The next meetup is Aug. 29. Flow arts makers of all skill levels are welcome.
The group will move indoors to a venue to be announced in the fall.
For more information or questions email Jean Savage at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cohen at email@example.com.
There is only one rule, said Savage: “No fire spinners allowed.”