The joy of spinning 'poi'

Many youngsters in the City are taking to poi in a big way.

The joy of spinning 'poi'

Poi’ is something that everyone has seen at some point or the other, though not everyone knows it by the name.

By definition, it is ‘a performance art involving swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns’.

Whether it uses fire or not, it is an art that involves a lot more than meets the eye. Monica Bansal, a young professional, has been spinning ‘poi’ for a few months now.

“With a full-time job and other commitments, I don’t get as much time as is required to practise it. But ‘poi’ is an art — just like dancing or a sport is. It could actually be a combination of both as it has the visual aspect of an art and the physical skills and focus required of a sport,” she tells Metrolife.

On the difficulty of learning it, she adds, “It’s not tough per se but requires dedication, regular practice and a sense of co-ordination. It’s quite addictive as well because once you get the hang of it, the potential is infinite. There are hundreds of sequences, forms and shapes you can create out of it. And once you’re comfortable with the glow ‘poi’, there’s always the thrill of spinning fire ‘poi’.”

Boby Mathew, who spins fire and double-staffs, shares his perspective.

“For me, spinning is just a part-time thing that I do for fun. In India, the market for spinners is still opening up and people are just starting to recognise it. But there aren’t enough platforms yet,” he says.

He adds, “I spin for the drum circle, Thaalavattam, and I sync my performance with the rhythm and expression of their music. But the passion for spinning isn’t enough to make it a sustainable performance art yet.”

Adhwaith Manohar, a self-taught ‘poi’ artist, started spinning ‘poi’ last year after watching a French troupe perform in Goa.

He admits that he thought it looked cool and figured that it would help him improve his chances of landing a girlfriend.

“But once I picked up my first pair of ‘poi’, I was mesmerised by how calming it was and how it helped me focus. It did wonders to my balance as well. It is one of the most therapeutic activities I have ever experienced,” he notes, adding, “When I’m in that ball of spinning fire, the rest of the world seems to vanish around me — all worries slip away. My thoughts flow through my body and I fade into a calm, beautiful place inside me. That’s what I spin for!”

Asked how he learnt it, he says, “I would watch the guys spin on the beach and try to replicate their movements. I took a pounding on my face and other regions
the first couple of weeks.

But once I got the flow, I didn’t have to classify it as a health hazard anymore.”

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