by Lindsay Miller
photos by Sam Carbine
The term “flow arts” encompasses the emerging movement-based art forms that integrate dance and creative exploration of movement with skill-based prop manipulation. The broad category Flow Arts includes a variety of pursuits that harmonize skill-based techniques with creative expression to achieve a state of present-moment awareness known as Flow. “The Flow Arts are its own entity, although it might be a little nerdier than what most think,” she jokes.
Grace has become a popular face through social media platforms and global festivals with her Flow Arts practices along with her expertise in ariel acrobatics and fire dancing with a local company she co-owns here in Nashville called Beyond Wings Circus. She performs around the area with her company and other groups but also travels for solo performances across the world.
New props and expressions are emerging all the time as flow artists cross-pollinate with martial arts, yoga, circus, belly dance, and beyond – Grace Good is one of these innovators. And guess what?… she is really good at it! So good that she will be performing in Japan while this article is published. “You feel like a total badass when you use fire,” she admits and says, “no matter what you look like, you are playing with fire and you feel powerful.”
The Flow Arts are at once a sport and a leisure activity, a hobby, and an obsession – 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. For many of its practitioners, it is a way to achieve the mind-state known as “flow”, a state of optimal experience, also known as getting in a groove. Many people first encounter the Flow Arts through contemporary fire dancing, in which people dance with objects on fire. This “zone” is similar to most grueling physical activity in which everything else melts away (but not literally, even though Grace says she has slightly caught her hair on fire before). “We call them ‘fire kisses’,” Grace says when referring to the slight heat involved with each movement.
Fire dancing has inspired and attracted many to the art form and the thrill is undeniable. The Flow Arts draw from a multitude of ancient and modern movement disciplines including hula hooping. Interestingly, hula hooping was the skill that originally drew Grace to practice in the first place. Today she uses the hula hoop in a variety of ways from adding LED lights to fire and is up to using four at once.
At the age of 18, she experienced her first Bonnaroo where she discovered others hula hooping and wanted to learn. After some time on her college campus, she saw people practicing with the hula hoop and decided to jump in thinking, “Hey! I do this too! I can join this group and find a community here.” From the connections through friends she eventually came across more and more aspects to add to her repertoire.
The days of practice and building friendships elevated to Printer’s Alley in Downtown Nashville where she says she used to perform outside the bars. “You can’t do this anymore,” Grace says, as we believe this is illegal today. However, this is also where Grace met her business partner whom she works with today in Music City.
The existing intimidation factor is something that must be removed, Grace explains, which more so becomes a part of the journey. As you progress from any tool or object with any movement, you also meet more people with similar interests and begin to build your own skill-set. She never wants anyone to feel intimidated, however, there is an aspect that requires you to get out of your comfort zone. “You can scale back to use an object, or you can level-up by adding new movements or maybe that is when people start to add fire,” Grace states.
One of the reasons she initially started with circus performing and Flow Arts was because she had major anxiety problems, which led to sleep apnea. “I was able to focus on something by learning through online tutorials. “Something just clicked in my brain,” she says.
She has found her tribe with the Flow Arts community and says, “It’s empowering, it’s also physical, but the mental aspect is important too. You have to train your mind for the coordination and your body for stamina.” The physical activity is demanding and as a professional, she says her outside training is extremely intentional and programmed daily. Every five minutes is another adrenaline rush even though Grace explains the extreme safety precautions she and others are always using.
“Any body can do it!” Grace describes, “Anybody – that is the coolest thing about the Flow Arts and circus performing.” She is passionate about growing the community that allowed her to feel accepted during her own health struggles. “I never want anyone to scroll online and think ‘I can’t do this’,” she says. Even though she has found her niche, her career, and passion in one community, she now aims to strengthen and pay forward the same acceptance and positivity to anyone that has ever felt anxious, different, or even the same.