Learn poi tricks and poi dancing for beginners
When Song Breeze mentions poi to people she usually gets a blank look, but they are a dancer’s dream: an ancient maori pastime that has been taken up by the clubbing and festival scene. Find out more about making your own poi, doing your first poi tricks and hooking up with the poi community…
What are these fabulous poi?
Poi originates from the Maori of New Zealand, ‘poi’ meaning ball. Originally the women twirled poi to keep their hands flexible, and the men used poi for increasing arm and hand strength as well as co-ordination. It was performed as a dance, with balls on the end of twine. Nowadays the balls are attached with a variety of different materials.
What are poi?
Poi are balls (of varying kinds), usually with tails or flags on them, that look very pretty when you are spinning and make some great shapes.
The poi balls are attaced to a cord that is normally either made out of chain or string, and these are attached to finger loops (or loop) on some poi.
Poi tip: I prefer having two finger loops, but we’re all different, so try both and see what suits you.
Poi is really easy to get into, and great fun to learn as the learning never ends! Poi can be brought cheaply online or from shops… Or (and this is cool) you could make your own poi.
Poi tip: I recommend starting with a pair of practice poi that are quite soft. Getting hit in the head with a glow-ball apparently really hurts (One of my friends made the mistake of using them with no prior experience and really hurt himself when he got a whack in the head!).
How to use poi
So you’ve got your poi, what now? Get out, and get spinning!
There are some great moves that are really easy to learn and look great, and what’s even better is once you learn a move, you can learn all sorts of varieties to learn a lot of new moves.
One of the easiest moves to learn is called the Butterfly, and looks great, better still there are so many variants you can do, here’s a step by step guide:
Poi move – How to do the ‘butterfly’
1. Hold the poi out in front of you, at arm’s length.
2. Start spinning the poi in opposite directions, and slowly move one arm above the other – this will stop the poi getting tangled.
3. Your wrists should stay relaxed the whole time… and there you go, you’ve just done your first trick. Congratulations!
Now you’ve learned your first poi trick and had a bit of a play around, you’ve got your confidence up, so get out and have a show off.
Getting better at poi through community spirit
I know people that go to clubs to show off their tricks, and I have seen some amazing stuff down at the clubs. It’s also a great way of meeting people. See a move you like? When they’re finished, go and say hi, and ask if they’ll teach you the poi move you liked the look of. Poi spinners are pretty friendly. There are even people that spin at festivals. There are also some great forums out there, where the people are really friendly and always happy to give advice and have a laugh with you. Never be too scared to say hi!
Poi for health
Poi is a great arm exercise, and even just simple spinning is a great arm workout, I spin to music, and dance as I spin. It’s a great way to keep fit. My favourite song to spin to at the moment is “Butterfly” by Aqua, it’s nice and quick-paced.
Poi tip: I find a song that is too slow will have me moving the poi too slow and if I move the poi too slow they fall or get knotted (that was how I got hit in the chin). It’s also great for improving your hand eye co-ordination, which is always good!
Types of poi available
Practice/Day Poi – there are all sorts of names and makes of these. They are usually quite soft to avoid injury, as you can whack yourself a few times while you’re learning your latest trick. The balls are often small and padded, the cords come in a variety of lengths, and you can often get different tails, socks or flags to add on to them. Some of them you can even put glow sticks in.
Glow Poi – these are heavier, and don’t come with flags/tails/socks. They are just a ball, either lit with LEDs (some even change colour) or with glow sticks inside. The cords are sometimes made from chain instead of material. These are popular in clubs, and are great fun to use, but much heavier than the poi above.
Fire Poi – so, you’ve been doing poi for a while now, and you’re damn good, and you want to take it up a notch? Fire poi are your next step. They are often a little more expensive than the others, and they are also the most dangerous. They come on chains, and are apparently great fun. I have friends that spin with them, and one friend says…
– fire poi tip: If you take up fire poi then start practising with them lit, it makes you more careful and aware of the poi, and what can and can’t be done with them.
We love poi!
Right so you have your poi, you’ve learned a few moves, you’re getting some exercise and making new friends. All that’s left is to drop you a few links to get you on your way! Good luck and happy spinning!
More links for poi action
Poi forum (also has nice shop and gallery)
Poi for beginners (forum)
Luxotica Fire Toys and Fire Poi (Buy fire poi, glow and fire toys and props, isis wings, fire dancing equipment, and fire spinning and fire eating supplies, including kevlar wicks.)
http://www.maori.org.nz/waiata (Traditional Maori poi performance)
http://artofpoi.tribe.net (Poi community)
http://www.fire-dancing.com/fire-poi.php (Fire poi basic lessons)
http://www.playpoi.com (More lessons here)
http://www.glowsticking.com (A resource for glowstringing)
http://www.domorepoi.com (A welcoming forum)