LiB and Flow: A Chat With Elven Empress

Photo by Sage Thomas

Festival Squad’s motto is “Festing For The People” and with this in mind, we decided to flip the script and spotlight members of our very own community this past Memorial Day Weekend at Lightning in a Bottle. These are the friends you make in line waiting for your pizza slice, or even the mysteriously dressed creature you dance with at a late night set. After all, a festival is at large in part a massive collaboratory environment for us to play, think, and grow as human beings together. With attendees coming from near and far, we have skills and passions all across the board, often times awe-inducing ones, and LiB is a next level example of this. The fashion and self-expression at the event are truly like no other that I have ever seen. Between just the painters, performers, and flow artists, you could be entertained for the entirety of a whole weekend- but of course, you have to catch a set here and there too. At the house haven our LiB family refers to as the Woogie, we ran into Natalia, an artist that explores flow and dance through a variety of mediums. We had the pleasure of interviewing her after the madness that ensued.

Photo by Elizabeth Ann

Hey Natalia, thanks for chatting with us! We saw you frolicking the Woogie Stage with your silk fans and thought it was beautiful! I personally have been hooping for a few years now and find it a huge refuge and a form of meditation even. What are some of your favorite flow toys and why?

Thank you, I have been flowing since 2010.  I started with a hoop and slowly progressed over time, and I now like to spin poi, tech fans, and double hoops as well as silk fans. I love how silks become a tool to play with the wind and interact with the environment, as a sort of ethereal extension of me, and I have found myself gravitating towards them a lot more lately. I find that flow does not have to be limited to traditional props or tricks, and it can be expressed in a variety of ways. The ultimate flow prop is the human form!

Photo by Jamal Eid

How was your overall LiB experience? We are still in awe and recovering from the adventures of the hilly wonderland. What was the most memorable part of it all for you and your squad?

I had a wonderful time; I found out only two weeks before that I was going when I was invited to be in a performance my friend Alea Rain curated. This was my second year at LiB, the first time being in 2015. It was incredible to return to a new world, as the layout was so different this year. I spent most of my time at Crossroads and Beacon, and I took a lot of workshops this year, including singing with Sorne, foraging for edible plants, and listening to Paul Stamets give a fantastic lecture about how fungi can save the planet. Most of all, I loved interacting with the immersive environments. I felt like I was on a party planet in a distant rainbow galaxy.

Photo by Robin Russell

Performing is a dream for many flow artists, but a nerve-wracking thought for others. Is that something that you are interested in and have experienced? We would love to hear about any upcoming gigs or performance teams you are involved with.

I started flowing seven years ago for the sheer joy and meditative practice of it, and I never expected to take it to a performance level. I officially performed on stage for the first time only one year ago, and it threw me out of my comfort zone. I realized that I didn’t need to be afraid, and that this was an opportunity to share my passion with other people. Now only a year later, I have many experiences under my belt in such a short time, and I have become more comfortable in sharing my expression.

Photo by Im Keiki

We, at Festival Squad, have a very healthy obsession with festivals. From the West Coast to the East Coast, we share our experiences at events. What festivals are on your radar for this summer? Any wild festival stories you would like to share?

I will be at Oregon Eclipse this summer, and I am so excited to see all of these different creators collaborate to bring us something truly special. I am most thrilled to camp out in the forest with my closest friends for a week and share a beautiful space with them. The thing about festivals is that you’re in this highly interactive environment with something interesting happening in every corner, so it’s hard to name just one story / odd experience that I’ve encountered. I find myself constantly running into interesting people and seeing sights I would never witness in the “real” world. One thing that really stuck with me at LiB was walking around at 3 AM with a few friends and coming across a beatboxing unicorn puppet (Paragon from The Fungineers) and the fact that it was the middle of the night and we were already loonie from lack of sleep made this the most hilarious thing I had ever seen in my life, I couldn’t even contain my laughter. You would have to see this in person in the same context to truly understand. But anyway, that’s how it is with any festival experience; they are too strange to properly describe. I can’t wait to see what’s next…

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