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The Flowjo

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 In July of 2021, after fifteen months in a COVID-come,

The Flowjo's doors were closed permanently. 

Well the past year and a half wasn't as ecstatic as we had hoped. It’s been a time of extremes, a time to surrender to continued unknowing, a time ripe with opportunity to face our deepest wounds--in our own bodies and our culture. 

The pandemic chrysalis eventually forced us to shed something incredibly sacred, The Flowjo, our long-time Carrboro home for Ecstatic Dance Church services and other healing. movement and community oriented programming. After a month of closing rituals, a funeral a two-part move (finally finished dismantling the sprung floor system) the formal shift is complete. 

As one chapter closes, another begins. As we adapt and vision for the next stage of infrastructure and program development, we're so grateful for all the support through this transformation. 


The Flowjo may be gone, but the work is just getting underway. Here now at Heartward Sanctuary, the vision continues to crystallize. 

Heartward Sanctuary’s work is in one sense an evolution of The Flowjo, a Carrboro-based studio that became a center for resilient community and earth-honoring ritual. Heartward Sanctuary provides a sustainable, permanent home for the continued evolution for some of the ritual and expressive practices that developed in the much-beloved Flowjo space. The genesis of Soma Temple, housed in a 100 year old Quaker-built barn at the Sanctuary, will allow for that spiritual work to broaden and deepen, interfacing with the natural world. 

Long live The Flowjo and the communities catalyzed there. At Heartward Sanctuary, we'll honor The Flowjo as we do many of our ancestors. If you come to visit Heartward Sanctuary, you can even visit The Flowjo's grave outside the barn.










The Flowjo

Conceived February 14, 2010

Born March 2011

Death July 2021

The Flowjo provided a sanctuary for movers, artists and healers for a decade. Spun into being by hoop devotion, Julia Hartsell was inspired to design a space worthy of connecting with the divine through movement. Dissatisfied with all the options for practice spaces in Carrboro, she took a passionate leap of faith to fashion and sustain a supreme dance space--a place to access her version of heaven: a spacious but intimate space with a buttery sprung floor, high ceilings, enrapturing sound and beautiful lighting.

In their decade of service, The Flowjo provided a home for hoop dancing, circus arts, aerial dance, contact improvisation and also catalyzed a devout community of Ecstatic dancers who lovingly call their practice Dance Church. The name Ecstatic Dance inadequately describes the magic and unique version of community practice that evolved in this space. The container of The Flowjo has deeply influenced this practice and our community.

The youth programs ushered countless young ones, especially femmes, into adolescence and young adulthood through empowering movement modalities, body positivity and ethics of cooperation and collaboration.

World class hoopers and circus artists have practiced, taught and performed awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping feats of strength, coordination and grace within the dance sanctuary on Brewer Lane.

Many people healed deep wounds through embodied practices and community participation there. Adjacent to a car wash in the industrial district of Carrboro, atop the remains of the first freed African American school and church in the area, this place always had an unexpected beauty. Upon entering, many were greeted with a sense of calm and a warm, bass-rich embrace. The connection to the divine was (and is) palpable. An unusual charm cast through playful imperfection gave rise to self-acceptance and freedom. And, as testimonials have it, many lives were saved by The Flowjo's unexpected grace. Big shout to Scott Crews (Julia's then percussionist and life partner) for his part in the conception and design of this creative space. Endless thanks to all who have made this place the magical, transformative, healing Sanctuary that it’s been.

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