Sarena Beriwala, co-founder of IndieFlow, is a flow artiste, fire performer and theatre practitioner. As a professional performer, Sarena Beri dances with both fire and LED props to spread flow arts and movement culture and performs at festivals and events across the country. Her main props are the Fire Fans, Palm Torches, Poi, Orb and Hula Hoop. She co-founded a community organisation called IndieFlow, which organises flow jams, workshops, and events, while developing a community of like-minded people with similar interests. Flow Jams are flow-oriented gatherings, where people can meet, experiment with different props, and interact with one another. She juggles not only fire props, but also life as a lawyer.
Hello folks! I’m Sarena Beri and I would love to tell you about my journey!
In the flow scene in the city of Bangalore, I have been the youngest female fire flow artist for a while now and can’t wait to have more join me in this journey- younger and older. When I started, in 2016, I saw “Poi” was being popularized by the efforts of my cofounder and friends since 2014. I love poi but I realised I wanted to bring dance-oriented fire props to the city such as Fire Fans, Fire Orb and Palm Torches. I’m glad I personally know 2-3 other girls who have picked up these props after seeing me and trying my props out, and I can’t wait for more to join as they get introduced to it. I believe it would be a lot of fun to flow together eventually. There is a growing flow community, but like every other movement community, there are unique issues here too. I believe the self-practise of flow should not stop despite this.
I love experimenting with different skills. As a child, I have for considerable periods of time tried various dance forms such as folk dance, break dance, salsa and contemporary. My recent indulgence is belly dancing and I love it. I also used to play the keyboard for a good ten (10) years, and I may try my hand again in this in the future. I have also recently started experimenting with theatre. I am part of the Bangalore Little Theatre group and have acted in a few plays. One notable memory was that of playing ‘Rosalind’ in the play Photograph 51, which debuted in 2018 at various notable theatres such as Ranga Shankara, Alliance Francaise, British Council, St. John’s Auditorium and others. This was my first play and was quite an enriching experience. I went on to attend a theatre course spanning over twelve (12) weeks with the same theatre group to learn more. I also attend Play Reads organised by them and have also organised my own Play Read Saturdays since the first lockdown in March 2020. Theatre has given me a better perspective in terms of stage and production, and has opened up my mind in different ways, which I try to add in my fire performances too.
For me my fire shows are a lot more than just the tricks you learn. I try combining the techniques I learn with various movement forms and other skills I spend time on, into my Flow Arts practice, making it very fluid and dance oriented. I take workshops for “Prop Dancing” using poi, hoop and my other props, as I find a lot of flow artists without a dance background not incorporating dance or having any stage presence. My workshops are open to those new to flow arts, dancers, non-dancers, and also existing flow practitioners, including those who don’t want to perform. I believe dancing is one of the ways of ‘feeling free’. It may not come naturally to all, but can be inculcated by practice.
I also have a baby i.e. IndieFlow. My role in IndieFlow involves ideating, planning, organising, implementation, maintaining accounts and general entrepreneurial work in addition to just practising flow and spreading the arts. A lot of my time and energy goes in the back-end work which no one can visibly see. I completely respect art entrepreneurs as it is not an easy task at all, especially in a niche field when there are new problems cropping up every day. I do believe if someone has a profit aspect, it does not take away their efforts and time spent for the community. Artists also need food for their body, respect for their soul and money for survival, and there is respect in understanding that art cannot always be free and it is not okay to use words like “exposure” or “community” just to get free art.
As a lawyer, I have practised in courts and currently I am practising general corporate. Now I am moving towards a specialised field of media and entertainment law to help my artist friends and other art entrepreneurs to know their rights and help them negotiate and enter into fruitful and fair arrangements. Being an artist, I live the challenges myself and being a lawyer has definitely helped me in this journey.
I cannot reiterate my love for movement enough as a practising lawyer - seeing its benefits has urged me take this initiative of IndieFlow to spread this lifestyle and culture in the city. I personally believe that moving every day in some way is important for the human body, mind and soul, especially in this city life. This drove me to initiate weekly and then monthly community jams with our props in Cubbon Park, along with my partner under IndieFlow. We would ourselves carry a car full of props - about ten to fifteen or more hoops, poi, dapos, juggling balls, sticks and other props so that others could get introduced to flow arts and play. People often ask me where they can get the props. IndieFlow has recently started providing props, tested by flow artists in the country, and providing it at reasonable rates in India to make it more accessible. I hope more and more join the community with love, flow and respect. The regular practice of Flow Arts leads to the development of ‘Flow’ - a familiar concept known by different names, similar to being 'in the zone' - a feeling of being energized, present in the moment, and focused on the current task. Not everyone has to get into performance or fire. It is good for the mind and body to just practise this and I want more and more people in our country to get into this. It has been an incredible journey for me and will continue to be so. I hope you all can join me in this journey and do some movement flow