We were first introduced to Enrico when he submitted and won a Fund the Flow Arts Seed grant for his Sound Staff project.
Since then, we've had the pleasure of getting to know him better and witness his development as an artist and all-round awesome person. Enrico is a multi-faceted creative being - constantly pushing the boundaries of multi-staff manipulation, while also spearheading social circus projects and community retreats, and exploring innovative ways to merge props with technology. He also happens to be one of the most empathic and thoughtful beings we know. We are excited to share his flow story here, and hope you enjoy his insights and journey...
What's your "flow origin story?" How did you get started?
My first experiences with 'flow' started at the age of 4. I was obsessed with the Power Rangers, and my parents decided it was a good idea to sign me up for karate. With practice, I developed an appreciation for disciplined training, movement art, and choreography. At age 7, I began competing nationally, and went on to get my black belt by age 12.
One of the competition categories was weapons forms, and one of the weapons was bo staff. Training bo staff as a kid was where my love for object manipulation began, but I had a long hiatus from karate in my teenage years. It wasn't until I was 20 that I rediscovered it by chance.
One evening, I was walking in a park with some friends and we came across a plaza with people spinning fire in front of a small audience. We sat down and after a couple minutes of watching, one of the spectators claimed he used to twirl baton in college and asked to give it a try. The fire spinner offered up his staff to the newcomer. After a couple spins the ex-twirler tossed the staff and it landed offstage at my feet. I picked it up and brought it back to the stage spinning it as I walked. The fire spinner decided I knew what I was doing, and asked if I wanted to finish the burn. Without much thought, I agreed and next thing I knew, I was completely immersed in the flow state and mindlessly recalling movements and pathways I hadn’t experienced since I was a kid. Before I knew it, the fire was out and I regained regular awareness as I received an applause. It reminded me of my generally pleasant experience performing in front of thousands of people in my youth and from that moment, I knew that spinning and ‘flow’ were meaningful to me. I went home that night and built my first flow staff out of a broomstick and socks.
Bonus background info: I remember the song that was playing during my first burn! Check it out here :: Signal Path - Mystery of the Yeti.
What inspires you to play & practice more?
I use play and practice as a form of emotional regulation. Sometimes when I feel like life is out of my control, it’s nice to know that no matter what feels different about myself, my sticks always feel the same.
Another source of inspiration is the amazing community that has developed around a shared love of movement art. I'm constantly encouraged to try harder to become a better performer, teacher, influencer and friend, because of those around me.
My art has developed the way it has because of my community. Whether it’s from the time when I had the privilege of living with some of the world's best practitioners as my neighbors at the Vulcan, or from videos in online groups of far-off acquaintances I have yet to meet, my community has always been a huge source of inspiration to play and practice more.
How do you overcome blocks? Any tips or techniques for getting through humps?
It depends which type of blocks. The ones I've primarily faced are:
- physical blocks - body is injured, fatigued
- creative blocks - feel like you're out of tricks or bored
- general well-being/existential blocks - feeling you're not good enough, on par with the latest tricks, ‘relevant’, like you need to spend more time being ‘productive’
I think they all need to be addressed differently but with the similar themes of time and balance…
Physical Blocks: Take time and rest. If you’re injured, do lots of research, pay attention to the injury, and see people who know more about it than you do. Be disciplined about getting healthy in the same way that you would be about training. Injuries suck, and if you don't address them, they only get worse. Take time to heal and look at the time off as a challenge to develop new skills, tricks, hobbies (i.e. if you have a wrist injury, take time off from spinning with your hands to work on contact moves, foot balances, kick-ups etc.).
Also, don’t forget to learn about proper stretching techniques to help prevent injuries! This isn't discussed enough in our community...
Creative Blocks: Take a lesson from somebody you admire, or who knows more than you. Everyone approaches movement differently, and sometimes just having someone’s attention for 30 minutes to discuss things you are excited about, or asking for new ideas or concepts will re-inspire you to practice.
Practice everything you know on your non-dominant side as it can open so many new pathways and possibilities. Create a drilling routine for when you don't feel like being creative. If you don't feel like drilling, allow yourself to just play in the moment, make mistakes, and explore those mistakes.
Seriously explore your mistakes. This may sound silly, but when mistakes can be made consistently, often with just a little tweaking they can lead to brand new tricks or movement frameworks that can feel really personal and inspiring.
Existential Blocks: One great way to overcome blocks is to spin for something greater than yourself. Dedicate your influence, attention and posts (which you’re probably already making anyways) to raise awareness for a cause. Sometimes this will help when you need motivation.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember the creator’s curse is real and your art is never anything to be ashamed of. Practice anyways - because by the paradigm of progress, you’ll never be ‘good enough’, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Remember that life is all about balance. It all comes down to using flow as a tool and not a crutch.
This can be easier said than done, and I’ve noticed both in myself and in my community that ‘spinning’ can become one of the finest forms of escapism.
When I start to feel that dread creep in, it’s usually a good sign I need to divest my time and interests for a bit. I’ve rarely ever stopped spinning all together, but I’ve cut my training days per week down, booked myself for fewer flow-related commitments, or temporarily relinquished the desire to post or be involved at all in order to allow myself to step back, let go of my expectations, and learn and try new non-circus related things.
Whenever I do take a break from spinning, I may feel a little rusty when I come back to it. But it’s a heck of a lot better to be able to enjoy the moment, rather than train and worry about neglecting other things in life.
That said, no matter how exciting and immersed you become in flow, festivals, the internet, or training, make sure to take time to develop your life outside of the flow arts. In the past I’ve been pressured (usually just by myself) to feel like I need to learn the next cool trick, or make the next cool post to make my practice seem productive, valid and meaningful. To be honest, there’s not a single trick, performance, festival or video that will make you feel those things in the long term. What does is developing a healthy consistent relationship with practice and the pursuit of mastery, which is an entirely personal matter and can only be achieved with a strong foundation.
Strong foundations can mean a lot of different things to different people, especially depending on your cultural, economic and geographical circumstances. Regardless, the strongest foundations are built from more than 1 pillar or in this case, points of interest. Sometimes the only way to make something sustainable in your life is not to feel bad about taking a break from it and developing other things.
What flowtoys do you spin?
Right now I own 5 composite sticks, and I absolutely love them. In this last year, flowtoys brought me onboard to work with Justin Widmar to test the composite sticks before their release. Together, Justin and I slightly redesigned the existing model, which opened up a style of fishtail and balance manipulation with the sticks that really speaks to my style and almost single handedly re-inspired me to continue spinning at my last block/plateau.
I appreciate how light the composite sticks are and yet no matter what I’ve put them through so far (I frequently use them in my kids classes and for partner acro) they’ve stood the test of time. I also like knowing that if anything did happen to them they are covered by the flowtoys warranty.
What is SolRiso working on these days?
I created the brand SolRiso as my performance alter ego/ moniker in 2012. At the time I was in college working at a children’s museum and didn’t want it affecting my professional life. It has since developed into more of what I consider a brand that acts as a collaborative hub for performances, inventions, arts education, merchandise development, fundraising, and volunteer outreach coordination.
I currently live in Portland, Oregon and support myself by designing merch for my etsy page, teaching acro, partner dance, and staff workshops, evening/weekend performances, and 2 part-time day jobs. One involves sharing my passion for movement by teaching youth martial arts and circus classes, and the other involves my degree in psychology where I help facilitate healthy family development at a non-profit mental health clinic.
I’m perpetually fundraising and raising awareness for 2 projects. One is the Sponsor a Staff project, which donates equipment to underprivileged artists and raises money for a youth circus academy in Kenya. The second developing the Sound Staff Project, currently in partnership with Ben Cooper of Spinstruments.
> Find out more about the Sound Staff Project here:
Follow and support SolRiso:
- Facebook: facebook.com/solriso
- Instagram: @solriso_
- Youtube: youtube.com/solriso
- Website: solriso.com
- etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/solriso
> Support the Sponsor a Staff Project by visiting the SaSP website or using any of the affiliate codes below:
- Flowtoys: solriso [Donates 10% to the Sponsor a Staff Project/ Sarakasi Trust youth program in Kenya!]
- Wizard of Flow: solriso [Donates 10% to the Sponsor a Staff Project/ Sarakasi Trust youth program in Kenya!
- Les Marchands de Feu / LMF Props: solriso
> Support the Spinstruments project here.