Meet Ty Roachford aka Tyfoods, founder of PropDanceCulture! We love how Ty melds hip-hop dance with poi spinning - follow his media for constant inspiration. Ty also visited the flowspace in winter/spring 2019, while he was building on PDC's new website, courses and offerings. We also got to interview Ty and get his download on: 

  • his flow origin story
  • what motivates him to practice 
  • how he overcomes learning blocks 
  • his vision for PropDanceCulture ...

What's your "flow origin story?" How did you get started?

I got started with Poi after graduating High School. I had been playing lacrosse for high school & bass guitar at home, but after graduating I decided that continuing lacrosse in college wasn't for me. Additionally, I had been feeling uninspired in the music world. I thought about going back to skateboarding. which I'd been doing for the past 6 years (less so while playing lacrosse), but most people I skated with quit, and it's not so fun to skate on your own! So I needed a new hobby. A friend introduced me to another friend, let's call them C, and at the time I met C, C was spinning fire. I immediately thought "This is awesome". After that, I picked up some socks and tennis balls and have been spinning poi ever since!


What inspires you to play & practice more?

I've had a lot of different motivations for practicing and playing over the course of my poi career, which I think has been important for sustaining growth. First and foremost as part of my identity, I try to make sure that if I'm going to start something, then I'm going to give it all I've got. This is a "Why not try my best?" type of attitude.

In the beginning of my poi career, this sense of identity is what drove me the most. When I used to skateboard with my local community, the name of the game was "Who can land the hardest trick?", instead of "Who can land -blank- trick the most consistently?". After being introduced to Poi, I realized that I didn't want to make the mistake of being the guy that "landed that crazy trick once". I decided I wanted to keep everything I do both challenging and consistent. This drove me to practice a lot more - even if I landed a hard trick, I was not satisfied until I could do it multiple times in a row! This fact is still true even 6 years later!

During my first year of poi, I felt a sort of competitive/social pressure. C, the friend that introduced me to poi, had told me that there was nooooo waaaaay, I would be able to get behind-the-back moves as quickly as I wanted. I took this as a challenge and was able to learn behind-the-back moves that same week! This semi-competitive drive popped up a few more times during my second year of poi, but it was over taken by this sense of wanting to be creative.

During my second year of poi, I began to imagine lots of different things that could be done with poi, but weren't being done by anybody I saw. In particular, I wanted to combine high-level hip-hop dancing with high-level poi, which I had not seen before. The feeling I got from slowly uncovering a style and movements that I had never seen anyone do before was thrilling! I saw the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be, and let every step towards where I wanted to be drive/motivate the next step I had to take.

I've found this specific feeling/drive has been what has been the most sustainable out of all my other drives. There's nothing like bringing something into this world that hasn't existed before, and perhaps no greater challenge than working hard keep up that innovation.

Entertaining people with what I do makes me want practice more too! Whenever I perform I am inspired to do even more, but making this a sustainable drive is only something I am just beginning to discover.


How do you overcome blocks? Any tips or techniques for getting through humps?

I've developed a fairly systematic method for avoiding blocks. Essentially, the idea is that instead of trying to attack certain things, like a trick/movement, head on. I instead find as many things that are related to that trick/movement as I can and then practice those. In addition, I totally back off a particular trick/movement, and try to practice something completely different whether that's a totally different trick/movement, or totally different art. That being said, for creative blocks, I'll simply practice different arts, such as hand-balancing, dancing, movement and meditation.


Who is Tyfoods? What is PropDanceCulture?

Tyfoods is a Hip-Hop Poi Dancer, Movement Enthusiast and Neuroscience Graduate. He has been spinning poi for 6 years, and dancing for 3 years. In that time, he has developed a systematic approach that focuses on "how to learn tricks/movements" rather than on the tricks/movements themselves. In an attempt to both share this systematic approach and create the ultimate resource for all movement artists he founded PropDanceCulture!

PropDanceCulture is a platform dedicated to bringing ALL movement artists together, to share key ideas, stimulate creativity, accelerate skill growth, and give movement artists the tools they need to succeed.

Why Tyfoods created PropDanceCulture

After 6 Years of being in the Movement Arts world, I finally decided to take action to make a serious contribution to it! I've seen that our community has been slowly growing, but I want to see it EXPLODE!

I think that a huge part of that is putting all things Movement Arts into one place and making it even easier for Movement Artists to make money from their craft. Through the years, I’ve found four specific questions that get asked over and over again:

  • Where can I find a list of events related to my craft?
  • Where can I find the best tools related to my craft?
  • Where is the best place to learn about my craft?
  • How can I start making money off of my craft?

Answers to these questions would save us all so much time and without a doubt would help accelerate the growth of the community! 

So, I started building PropDanceCulture as an answer to all of these questions and more. An up-to-date list of events for Movement Arts like Dance, Prop Spinning, and Circus, a list of shops that have been reviewed by the community, a free AND paid library of tutorials that have been reviewed by the community, AND resources/tools for making money off of your craft are ALL on the PropDanceCulture Platform and are steadily growing.

I’ve also come to realize that while Social Media like Facebook and Instagram are great, a lot of us want a platform that is geared towards Movement Artists and is free from irrelevant distractions. Thus, I worked to make PropDanceCulture a social network as well, with both an Android AND iOS app.

The whole culture of PropDanceCulture relies on what I call "Cross-Disciplinary Creative Studies", which is the act of taking ideas, principles and concepts from one art/discipline and using them in another art/discipline. Engaging in Cross-Disciplinary Creative Studies, or CDCS, for short is a huge part of developing a movement practice that allows you to learn any trick/movement more quickly.

There are a lot of times when folks get stuck on tricks/movements and don't know what they can do to get past it, or maybe they simply feel confused about what to learn next and/or don't feel a creative spark. CDCS can get you past all of that. With CDCS you feel clear about what to learn next, you know how to avoid getting stuck on tricks and you don't run out of ideas.


More things we didn't know Ty was doing!

Tyfoods is writing a book called "Living The Flow Life", which is all about the psychological state of "Flow", the state where we both feel our best and perform our best, and how we can get into that state more often. Additionally, he's already written a free course called "Living The Flow Life" that movement artists can use to learn a bit more about Applied Flow Science.

The idea for "Living The Flow Life" started with something that I had noticed about the "Flow Arts Community". I got the feeling that although we call it the "Flow Arts Community" a lot of people don't seem to know too much about the psychological state of Flow, much less about how they can get themselves into that state.

Since Flow is the state where we both perform our best and feel our best, I think that it is important for the growth of the community to really understand what this state is and how they can tap into it more often. The result of this realization was the free "Living The Flow Life" course where you can learn practical information on how to get into the Flow state as well as what the Flow state is.

The course was successful. I even had people outside of the community I wrote it for reach out to me for some more tips and insight, and so I decided I should write a book on the topic. It's hard to say when the book will be ready since I'm quite busy with PropDanceCulture, but pages have been written, and it will most definitely happen!

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