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The Artistic Power of Animal Flow

How Animal Flow gave me the confidence to challenge myself creatively
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Author- Sara Bigatti

It was a sunny day in 2020 when, during an Animal Flow Jam I had organized in Utrecht, The Netherlands, two musicians, Alberto Perez Jurado and Ayla Losada, approached me.

“This movement is so incredible,” said Ayla. “We should create something together!”
I was surprised and despite my inner voices loudly pointing out that I was not an artist, I agreed.

The week after, we met at their house and they started playing live music. The sound of the cello was magic but I did not know what to do; my rational side was just so afraid of letting go. I took a deep breath and started to Flow. The more I moved, with presence and intention, the more I became one with the ground. I felt fully in my creative power.

A videographer, Jeroen Berends, joined us and from that moment on, we met regularly to share what was most alive in our worlds.

This collaboration led to the birth of SONO: a co-created performance that tells a story. Our story, as a collective. The story of our Ego and our Consciousness.

SONO: the dance between Ego and Consciousness

SONO means ‘I am’ in Italian.

This piece looks at the dance between our Ego and our Consciousness. It’s an invitation to remove the mask that hides our truest selves and simply Flow. One of the greatest challenges we will ever experience is the challenge from within. The challenge of resisting the corrupted voice of our Ego-mind.

The Ego is the voice that limits us and blocks our flow of energy, bringing us to believe that we are the center of it all. It is the Inner Critic that urges us to act in a certain way to satisfy our momentary desires and emotional impulses.

Consciousness, by contrast, is the voice of our inner truth. It is the Observer that allows us to be more appreciative and aware of what is happening inside and outside of us, recognizing that we always have a choice.

How can we be aware of what is happening inside if all we interact with is our most corrupted layer? Let the Ego and Consciousness dance together and allow your creative power to arise.

Animal Flow, the gateway to our creative potential

Research has demonstrated that certain types of movement enhance our creative potential, supporting us in letting go of self-imposed limitations.

While often viewed as being an esoteric or airish concept, “Creely et al. (2020) conceptualized creativity as a way of being, expressing, emerging and existing. The first mode of their Three Modes of Creativity model considers creativity as a ‘visceral embodied expression in the physical world or as a set of tangible practices that are physically located in space and time.”

When initially approaching SONO, my Ego told me repeatedly that I was not a dancer, and that I could not successfully complete this project. I did not feel fully ready. Yet Animal Flow allowed me to access a reality that I thought did not belong to me.

Creativity is now understood to be important in many areas of our fast-paced and highly competitive world. Creative movement has the powerful ability to impact us socially, by opening us up to vulnerable interactions, and cognitively, by inviting us to think differently.

Creativity, especially when produced by our body, is vital in the Information Age we live in. In a world constantly in motion, that forces our minds to quickly generate new ideas, movement creativity is vital to support more embodied innovation and progress.

Simply put, in every realm of life the ability to explore, adapt and flow can be our superpower!
What if every athlete’s warm-up included Free Flow?
What if every business meeting began with a short Animal Flow practice?

I truly believe this would open doors to the most creative and embodied ideas!
So, my advice: start with one Flow a day–your whole life will benefit from it!

Earning the freedom to bend the rules

When we see Flow performed by others, for a moment, we enter their unique reality.
We see beautifully-shaped movements, intentional leaps, and aware turns; we perceive their embodiment and we feel captured by their awareness. They are fully present, in space and time, as demonstrated beautifully by Regional Leader Pey Ferrando (below).

This is for a reason: they know the basics and they know them very well.
They repeat those basics over and over, till they feel them with every inch of their body. Only then, they can improvise and Flow freely.

At that point, their body becomes one with the ground; it is not only about a series of separated movements but a continuous embodied flow.

As you’ll often hear Animal Flow creator, Mike Fitch, and many of the Master Instructors say: “First, you must learn the rules. Only then can you break them.”

Making art with our bodies

Sometimes we want to know, even before taking the first step, if something is going to work.
This way of thinking can lead us, often, to not even try.

I believe that what allowed me to create this project was that I had no expectations to start with; I played with the unknown and I danced with my Ego. My only intention was to make art with my body, without a specific outcome or endpoint in mind.

Below you’ll find some tips from some of the many artists, dancers and performers from within this community.
By incorporating some of these elements into your practice, you may find it easier to access your deep creative potential. You may also find that you feel excited (as well as a little nervous, perhaps) to share the outcome with us.

  1. Learn the basics. Join a class, look for a trainer in your area or join Animal Flow On Demand. Bring your focus to mastering those basic movements.
  2. Practice creative dance. Try using your hands or feet to draw your name in the air. Nobody will know what you are actually doing but it will look like a dance.
  3. Try doing something different from what you have done till now. Explore different possibilities. Do you always default to the same sequences or movements? Do you always perform them the same way? What can you change in your execution?
  4. Finish movements with your hands and feet. It’s common for Flowists to forget that the movements don’t simply stop with the arms and legs.
  5. Use your eyes; look where you are going and be deliberate.
  6. Pause, break. Intentionally move into stillness.
  7. Tune into your breathing and play with its force.
  8. Behave like a kid when he/she sees another kid doing something cool: ‘Wow, I want to do it, too!’ Set your logical mind aside and trust your desires.
  9. Focus on your Flow, not the experience of the person watching it. Remember that the viewer will get what they need in that specific moment.
  10. Do not force it; maybe it is not the moment right now. Instead, simply FLOW.

Thank you so much to those of you who participated and co-created this article with me.
As in the SONO project, when I wrote the first lines for this article I had a completely different idea in mind. I decided to trust the process and let myself be guided by the incredible interactions I have had with beautiful humans from this community. Not all of these Flowists have been mentioned but every single one of them was an essential source of inspiration.

I want to close with an invitation.
An invitation for you to create the story that your soul wants to tell.

Watch our mini-documentary We Invite You To Move for an exploration of free movement styles, the concept of flow and the pursuit of mastery that unites so many movement practitioners. You can also check out the hashtag #weinviteyoutomove on Instagram to find movement inspiration from across the world.