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Join me for a poi vacation!
June 28 – July 08: The Leviathan Poi Retreat: Lasqueti Island, BC, Canada: Come play poi on a magical, off-grid, temperate rainforest island.
March 18 – 31 and April 15-28 2018: Poi at Wild Sun Jungle Resort and Rescue Center in Costa Rica! Come for just poi, or combine it with yoga or surfing. This event will include a fire/LED- and astro-photography module 🙂
To tell me which dates work best for you, or to ask questions, just get in touch.
I hope to see you somewhere!
TADAH is as awesome as everybody said. Till and Deniz are lovely people, and it’s amazing how much food is coming out of the earth here, after just a few years of applying permaculture practices. The studio is a great place to play poi! 🙂
It’s also been great to explore Turkey with G and Lorna. I want to come back next year! 🙂
It’s been great to return to Europe. Every time I come here, I feel happier. There is something about walking through history, and the sensibilities of the people, and mixing of cultures that I find very stimulating. My conclusion: I want to get a visa to stay! 🙂
What makes a performance or video awesome cannot be entirely distilled into an objective system. The following is an exploration of the elements that make performances awesome:
Creativity / originality: A unique, creative, and original performance is usually more interesting than something people have seen before. But “different” doesn’t always add up to interesting. Sometimes attempts to be original can seem gimmicky, so search deep for true creative inspiration. There is inherently no formula to do this!
Set and setting: Where does the performance take place? Does the setting match the performance? Are there any props within the performance area? For live shows, even the most simple props can help create a sense of space. All it takes is a cue that sets off the imaginations of those watching. For videos, of course it’s well worth the time to go somewhere beautiful or dramatic. If you take the time to use or create the right setting, people are more likely to take the time to watch your performance!
Costumes: Costumes and makeup can accentuate the movements and features, and expression of the performers. It also helps set the mood and plot. The right costume will ensure that the audience is watching the performer and the storyline, not just the spinning objects.
Choice of music: This will have a huge effect on the performance. No piece of music is right for everybody, and thus no performance can please everybody. Whether you’re creating or watching a performance, it’s worth some time to ask why you like music.
Musicality: Having a meaningful piece of music is just the first step. Perhaps more important is whether the performers actually work with the music. Are their movements progressing with the music? Are they bringing the music alive? Are you and the music following a story together?
Dance and physical theatre: Poi and object manipulation is interesting, and so are people. The audience doesn’t just watch the prop, they watch the performer. So the important question is this: Is there something to watch? Are you the performer interesting? Or are you hiding behind the prop? Imagine you had to do your performance with no props and figure out how it would be interesting anyway.
Technical spinning skill: Obviously this is important for any poi or flow show, but it doesn’t mean doing all your hardest tricks. Often it’s better to stick with the movements you know the best. Simple things done well will look better than difficultl moves performed awkwardly.
Storyline and artistic content: Is there any artistic content to your show? Is there a storyline? This doesn’t have to be a literal storyline (which can be didactic), it might be an emotional progression, or even just be an interesting evolution of the way you are interacting with the poi. Anything that draws the audience into the performance is better than a simple series of moves and tricks.
Choreography: If there are multiple performers, it’s obviously important how the move together and interact.
Cinematography and editing: For videos, the camera work has an important role in bringing the story to the audience. Remember though that people usually want to watch the performance, not the camera work. Sometimes people get so carried away with fancy camera angles and editing that the actual perforamance seems incidencal to the showing off of camera and editing work.
Have you ever felt called to improve your coordination, balance, and over-all physical ability? If you have, poi might be the tool for you. It certainly was for me.
I developed a desire to explore physical movement when I was a teenager. On a hunch I took up Tai-Chi, which proved a perfect place to start. My teacher, Master Tong, had studied under great masters in China. He taught us traditional Tai-Chi theory, which included the use of circular and spiral motion, the body’s five “bows,” the stacking of body architecture, the raising of spirit and focus, and other concepts and techniques.
I became a believer in the intelligence and practicality of Tai-Chi, and although I practiced intensively and progressed steadily, I eventually longed for something more… upbeat.
Over the following years I trained in dance, Wushu, and Capoeira. Applying Tai-Chi theory always helped me progress quickly, and each art form taught me something fundamental about movement, yet none of them were quite what I was looking for.
I finally found “it” outside a dance party in British Columbia, where I witnessed a group of fire dancers playing with fire poi. Watching, I realized that my entire history of movement practices had been leading me to poi. I don’t know how I knew. I just knew. It was like the sky opened and a booming voice said, “Take up poi. You’ll understand later.” I was soon practicing with a pair of rolled up socks on shoelaces. To my delight, I discovered that poi are amazing movement exploration tools. They are guides. They are teachers. They are like Yoda, only smaller and on strings.
Poi are simply weights on the ends of tethers. By attaching one to each hand, they become extensions of our body. They literally magnify our movements, helping us to observe the accuracy of direction, timing, rhythm, and force. Once observed, the repetitive nature of poi proves ideal for developing motor skills, and the circular nature of poi encourages developing those skills through a full range of motion, on all planes. By exploring the positioning of our hands and body, particularly into areas where we usually don’t have a lot of skill (like behind our backs), we are able to develop a very thorough range of skill.
In Tai-Chi, all movement comes from the Dan-Tien (your movement-center: two inches below the belly button). The Dan-Tien is the fulcrum point of your body; a force forward from the right hand is executed with an equal force from the left leg. All Tai-Chi movements follow this principle. In many poi exercises, for proper timing, one hand must move in perfect symmetry or opposing symmetry with the other. We can apply Tai-Chi technique by relaxing the arms and initiating the movement from the Dan-Tien. As we play, all of our movements become increasingly fluid, natural, and precise, resulting in greater overall balance and whole body coordination.
The process can be like carving a rough block of wood into a sphere. Bumps and corners make movement awkward and limited. As the block becomes spherical, movement becomes smooth and centered. The rhythmical, circular motion of poi proves ideal for sanding away “bumps.” With enough practice, you can develop a felt sense for movement and space that seems to exist beyond your body. Getting even more metaphysical, the motion of poi is like that of a solar system or atom. The more spherical you become, the more you tune into patterns that lie at the center of all matter and energy.
Through poi I have enjoyed improvements of physical ability, as well as a revived sense of play, and an increase in discipline and self-esteem. Poi have opened new dimensions for me. I highly recommend giving it a try.
The Swiss retreat went well. I love the Balmeggberg. But this year I realized once again that it would be nice to have a place as lovely as the Balmeggberg, but also with a dance floor.
And so the search continues! There must be a permaculture retreat centre in Europe with a big covered space for poi, dance, and yoga!
In two or three years, Adrian and Paola will have access to just such a place even deeper in the alps! So the solution is coming. The question is, what do we do in the meantime?
We've wrapped up our third annual Swiss Poi Retreat at the Balmeggberg! It was great fun — spinning, sauna, and yummy organic food.
Check out our Swiss Poi Retreats album on Flickr for some beautiful photos, and check out our vlog from a day of training!