Jeremy Lou Valentine, aka Loup de Lou, has always sought to showcase his flow arts. This led to the current incarnation of Dance Afire Productions, a performance fire troupe. Lou got into the flow arts in 1999 while touring spiritual music camping events. Lou’s first time seeing professional flow was at a festival in Kansas, […]
Jeremy Lou Valentine, aka Loup de Lou, has always sought to showcase his flow arts. This led to the current incarnation of Dance Afire Productions, a performance fire troupe. Lou got into the flow arts in 1999 while touring spiritual music camping events.
Lou’s first time seeing professional flow was at a festival in Kansas, where he was entranced by a Texan fire tribe. Lou asked one of the poi spinners how to get started and they told him to “go home, pick up a pair of sneakers by the string and spin them around.” He spent the following winter in his basement with Home of Poi videos. Lou joined the flow community before video sharing sites like YouTube. It was easy for Lou to meet people more knowledgeable than himself to spin with and learn from because of the confluence between these spiritual events and the fire dancing.
Lou considers himself a poly-proper, he’s “played with all of the tools out there with maybe one or two exceptions. “ Lou also studies the root of movement to understand how the body and a prop can interact with one another. Poi was Lou’s first love, from there he moved on to rope dart. Being a dancer first and a flow artist second, Lou found rope dart easier to dance with.
Lou’s desire to flow comes from his love of performing. He enjoys captivating the audience and receiving their enthusiasm. It fuels his need to create new performances, continue practicing and build off of what was done the year before. Dance Afire was born from Lou’s frustration in not going to Burning Man back in 2008. This became a creative drive for him, and Dance Afire’s success is why Lou hasn’t gone back to Burning Man since.
Having a family has made going to Burning Man more of a challenge as well. His eldest daughter is five and she sees props as toys among her other play things. Earlier in the year when trying to come up with a theme for her birthday party, Lou’s wife Bronwen Valentine suggested some fire breathers come and perform. Her response was “Fire breathers are boring.” Lou sees this as a sign of her familiarity with the arts, and he’s glad she finds it boring considering how dangerous fire breathing is.
Lou draws meaning from the flow arts via his need for a physical practice, to channel his energy in a way where he is seen and acknowledged as a performer. “The art is identified as flow for a reason, the tricks are fantastic, but it’s the transitions that make it pop for the audience. The best way to explain the appeal of the flow arts to a non-spinner is for them to try it for themselves.
Lou plans to contribute to the future of flow, by growing the Dance Afire tribe from its current core of 13. The trick is to tap into children’s enthusiasm for the world and chip off a bit for the flow arts. Not just his children, but the ones he teaches at the Takoma Dance exchange by incorporating movement play with props.
Giving this art to children helps with general acceptance of the flow arts, and its association with the party scene because it’s so much more than that. Talking about these transformative festivals is important, because they are a meeting of the minds and a driving regenerative force for the flow arts where flow artist share their ideas with one another.
Lou believes there’s been a constant growth of the flow arts community since he first joined over a decade ago. It’s gotten bigger through the aid of transformative festivals like Burning Man and the momentum of this interest isn’t slowing down. Lou calls himself the instigator of the flow arts, he wants to do rather than be and he wants to do with others. Practitioners of quasi-spiritual movements like the flow arts have a tendency to enjoy being the artist, which is fine, but occasionally the doers need to mix it up.
This plays into diversifying the flow community. Lou considers this as something that needs to be addressed directly through encouragement and teaching in communities outside his comfort zone by going to dance labs outside his city to join together with other dance and pop cultures. Lou believes that hip hop artist “would love the art if they were exposed to fire performers who are enthusiastic capable and reliable to be part of the dual culture. All of humanities stories have been told around fire for the majority of our existence, and there’s no reason to stop now. We put fire in these boxes around us and we’ve divorced ourselves from the intimacy of coming together and telling stories around fire.”