Poi is a form of dance, where weights on the ends of tethers are swung through rhythmical patterns. It is rooted in the culture of the Maori people of Aotearoa (a.k.a. New Zealand), who dance with poi poi in traditional ceremonies.
Poi was popularized throughout the world largely by fire spinning, which spawned when traditional poi met modern day dance parties. In time, poi enthusiasts turned to flag poi, LED poi, and other tools that express the beauty of poi without the health and environmental risks of fire.
Poi has evolved and changed since leaving Aotearoa. Many poi artists have borrowed from other disciplines, such as martial arts, club swinging, dance, and rhythmic gymnastics. Poi appeals to those who are looking for a dynamic and engaging physical activity that is less intense than martial arts or competitive sports. There is now a large global community of enthusiasts devoted to modern-poi, and the Internet serves as a major medium for exchanging ideas and enthusiasm. At the center of the community are true believers, who see poi as the Jedi training tool of the new millennium. This mythos provides a curious undercurrent to the art-form.