Q) So what is FLOW the show?
Flow is a piano concert that’s wrapped with yoga inspired performances, such as yoga dance, piano yoga, acro yoga, aerial yoga, crystal bowl pieces and a lot more. So at its core, it’s a piano concert with yoga inspired performances, to show yoga off as art to live music.
Q) What is a FLOW state?
When you hit a FLOW state, that means you’re completely present; you’re in the state where you’re captain to a lot of energy, where you have access to all this knowledge, intuition, understanding, energy, power, it’s like a download link to the heavens. And you only get there when you’re extremely focused, really present and full of trust. Then all of a sudden you have access to infinite energy, knowledge, energy, trust, and all of a sudden you know what to do, when to do it, how to do it instantly in those moments. Those urban legends where a woman lifted a car to save her baby, those are the types of things that are possible when youre in a FLOW state, where you’re completely present and focused, and you have a sense of centeredness and you know what you have to do.
Q) How can music raise vibrations?
Music is a powerful, powerful tool and force that somehow filters through our senses into raising, or lowering, our emotional state. So the power of music is really precedes the power of emotion. Music can make you feel on top of the world, or it can make you extremely sad, depressed and lonely. So the music I create tends to be themed around things that are more graceful, beautiful and unique. It’salmost like a classic crossed with new-age style – kind of hard to describe how I play, because a lot of what I play is improvised, certainly no Jazz, but my own personal style of improv. It pulls from Jazz, it pulls from World Music, it pulls from New-Age, it pulls from Classical and it turns into something that just FLOWs out of me.
Q) I never considered asana a moving art. Where’d that come from?
I practice and teach yoga, and many of those I teach come from a dance background. Not myself, but many of my teachers, my practitioners etc. When I first met Kristen, I would watch her practice yoga in a class, and it was just so beautiful and graceful, almost like a moving meditation, but it just felt like… a dance. You see all these Instagram images of her, with such great poses that looks like beautiful art but how did they get in and out of those poses? That’s usually not that graceful and Kristen just had this amazing way about her, how she moved from one pose to the next and it was pure art, it was pure movement, pure dance. So I asked her one day if she would like to dance on my piano while I play. I guess it wasn’t a normal line she heard so she couldn’t help but say yes. And that’s how the whole idea started. We took that piano yoga idea, where I’d play and she’d essentially practice on top of my piano and expanded it to a 90 minute show that featured all sorts of other creative and artistic ways of showing yoga, and that’s what sparked the concept of FLOW the show.
Q) What were the main themes of the show?
There are several themes, its layered in several ways. Firstly, it’s a piano concert at its core, so instead of just doing a pure piano concert, I thought “Why don’t I add performance to it?”. And yoga, as a performance art, I thought would be really different, unique. Since it hasn’t really been seen or done before, I thought I could really explore that concept, so that’s where the yoga inspired performances came from. In yoga we usually ask someone what type of yoga they do, and a lot of times they refer to it as FLOW, either a Vinyasa FLOW or a Hatha FLOW. In its most basic definition, FLOW is really just how you transition from one asana to the next. I’ve been studying a lot about FLOW states, and how to tap into your FLOW state, so my music is really composed and created in a way to assist people to relax so they can actually tap into the FLOW state, or how I like to say it, tap into their FLOW. So it just seemed to be the right idea. The whole performance is a storyline that we used throughout all the performances, and what it’s really about is a Prince and a Fairy, or you could say a pianist and a yogini, and how we come from two different worlds and meet each other in a dream. We instantly fall in love and we try to accommodate the other by being in their world, but it doesn’t seem to work. It isn’t until the end that we realize we need to create our own world, and that’s how the show ends. It’s really about the struggle of trying to fit into a place where you don’t belong, and you can transcend that.
Q) How did you pick your team?
It started with the three of us, Kristen, Radha and myself. We originally thought it must be three of us and maybe a few other of our fellow yoga dance practitioners and do a yoga dance performance. From there we began exploring other yoga forms, like acro yoga, aerial yoga and just started reaching out and talked to our friends about it and started getting a lot of interest and people started asking if they could be a part of it. So it started out as three and ultimately ended with fourteen of us. We were all from the same community, practiced together and had the same friends so the connection was almost instant. It came together kind of organically. Some of us were newcomers who just started, and some of us were veterans who have been performing for many years, so it was a good mix. We weren’t going for this when we started, it just evolved into it. We had some other people we thought would be a good fit, but culturally it didn’t work out. We wanted to make our entire cast and team fit the culture of what we were trying to accommodate. That was really the most important thing as we were creating our own tribe, our “Yoga Is Art” tribe. Above all else, our core interest was sharing and putting something beautiful into the world.
Q) Who was involved?
The cast composed of firstly myself, who was the only one on the stage for the full 90 minutes. Radha Mehta, my sister and my musical partner and lead singer. She sang for four of the eight performances. Kristen Schneider, who was not only a yoga dancer, but also the yoga choreographer for over half the pieces, especially the yoga pieces. So she did two solo acts, one was the piano yoga and one was the solo butterfly dance and then she did two group dances, one around the crystal bowls and the other was the Mandala dance. And then we had Michael Mott and Tala Neudgate, who were new to performance and they did the acro yoga piece. It turned out to be a great hit and people really loved and appreciated that. So going from being first discovered and six weeks later performing in the show, they really came together with the crew to get past their first time fears. Cheryl Cox was our aerial yogini. She’s performed for more than seven years at many venues before, and she did the aerial piece to Radha’s singing of our finale, Stronger Better Me. Then we had our yogini dancers, which were Kristen Schenider, Melissa Keyes, Cailyn O’Donnell and Britney Byfield, who all had a dance background. Cailyn was a ballerina performing all over Europe, Melissa was more of a hip-hop dancer, Britney was a gymnast who got into dance and Kristen was contemporary. So seeing those four completely different type of dancers come together to do something completely new inspired a whole new inspired a whole new genre of yoga dance. It was a pleasant experience because they all brought their own special flavors and styles into the mix to create something new. Then we had a contemporary dance group led by Stephanie McMahon, who used this red string that they danced in and out of and around of. There were four of them, Stephanie McMahon, Alexandra Colvin, Nathan Greenberg and Ryan Scrocki. They did a really interesting and unique performance that most people haven’t seen before where they used a long red string that tied them all together and they kept weaving in and out of this red string, symbolizing how every action we take threads other people into it, and sometimes we wrap ourselves around so tight that we can’t escape our own hold. That was very beautifully done. Then we had Amy Anthony who played the crystal bowls and is also a yogini. She does a lot of crystal bowl healing workshops and sessions and just an amazing musician herself. So she really added to creating that vibration for one of the pieces.
Q) Why Orlando?
The Dr. Philips Performing Arts Center is brand new, and we’re all from Orlando so we thought this would be a great place to pilot it. We had access to the venue, which let us use their P Theater which is a beautiful 300 seater which is normally really hard to get into, so they’ve supported it us from the beginning and were our first partner. Then we had some other community partners like Lululemon. When we had the concept, they were the first ones to step up and support us and they gave us the initial financial means to help make this thing happen. BB&T bank stepped up, along with MPC Financial and MAI, an engineering consulting company that worked on building a lot of the infrastructure in Florida. Then we had a bunch of community partners, including BallBall yoga, which is a new athletic store opening up, and Tabla, which is a local Indian restaurant, Dunhill Management, which has been a big supporter of the arts. Then we had six of the biggest yoga studios in Orlando come on board as well including Full Circle Winter Park, Guruv Yoga, Orlando Power Yoga, Firefly Yoga, Harmony Yoga and Altamonte Yoga. So it really had a strong support base from the yoga community which essentially led to the show being sold out in less than two weeks after tickets went on sale. We had a pretty long waiting list of people who wanted more tickets. In fact, some of the family members of the cast couldn’t even get in because they sold out so quickly. Oddly enough, over half the attendees weren’t people from our community that we knew so a lot of our friends who tend to wait until the last minute to buy tickets couldn’t get tickets. So we really didn’t know who half the audience was. So that was inspiring as well because the reaction that we got from the people that we did not know was just as strong as those who we did know, so that was very encouraging.
Q) How did people feel during?
There was this great review written by Sara Beth Jackson, who was at the show. She wrote it from the audience’s perspective. She said that during the show, the audience felt really comfortable and centered, and was really mindful in creating connections. So when I started, I asked them all to do three things with me: take a breath with me, just set their expectations to the side for the next 90 minutes and just be present with us, and finally to chant Om together with me in that theater. So we did one giant, collective Om which was really amazing and powerful because the acoustics in that theater are amazing, but me on stage having a sonic tsunami Om wave was incredibly charging. So it was pretty clear we had a strong connection, and from that point on the audience was also a part of the show because a lot of my music was improvised. For example, the acro yoga piece I improvised to the performance. The audience’s energy and all the energy in the room also contributed to what the actual performance was, which was also pretty unique.
Q) How did people feel after the show? What kind of feedback did you receive?
After the show, we received an amazing standing ovation which we didn’t expect. From what we heard and felt, people were really inspired, amazed and super enthusiastic about what they had just witnessed, especially because no one really knew what to expect from the show. We were kind of aloof and abstract about what the show really was, outside of saying it was a show of ‘music and movement’, you can’t get any more abstract that. It was that response and feedback that makes us want to do more. If we were able to get the audience involved, tap into their own FLOW and then FLOW with us, then we’ve achieved what we wanted to achieve.