Page: 1234
bluecat
bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere
Member Since: 15th Dec 2002
Total posts: 5300
Posted:So, following on from a few discussions i have been having recently, i've decided to ask the world

what is wrong with poi?


(slight bit of devils advocate here, please don't get angry, just try to respond to the question...)

So, of all the millions of poi shows out there, how many would you genuinely put in a professional circus show? I think the answer is (for me) pretty clear. about 3. give or take 3.

that's not to say there aren't skilled performers doing good acts. but they are few and far between, and most of the best spinners i know put on a show by 'having an idea of what they will do, and a nice piece of music'

so why is it that routines all look the same, the world over?

is it the internet? is it the backgrounds of the spinners? is it the need to learn performance techniques? is it cause poi is limiting? is it because its easy to impress people with poi? etcetc...

for example; if a juggler/diabolist/random perfomer wants to create a circus act, s/he will usually do one of several things. 1) do a classic circus piece; working up through numbers, and having a big finish, but not much 'character' (will hex)* or 2) develop a character and see what happens.... (vodka and orange); 3) get a technogimmick, and using it all through a piece (julien Vux) or 4) be blindingly good at something (j9). In fact, you can do just about anything, and it will work on some level...

if a corresponding performing poiista decides to create a new act, it will undoubtedly be based on 'what moves i/we know, one after the other, set to some banging tune' aaaaaargh.

you would think this would improve when you get up to higher level spinners putting on shows... but no. with a few exceptions, every performing spinner i have seen doing a solo show of late looks exactly like ronan/nick/yuta/firefantasy/alienjon/G with varying degrees of efficiency and grace.

where are the ideas of using poi in a storyline, creating a scene and playing with it? putting it in context? clubswingers do it, staff spinners do it, why not poi? the last truly creative poi act i remember seeing was in 2003, by somebody dead. thats not to say there haven't been incredible performances since then, but my god, do we miss vincent bruel**.

It was nice to see something like this appearing at the JFF, but there were mostly nods towards creativity interspersed with great spinning rather than an immersed performance, which is what usually defines the truly great circus routines.

so what gives? what is it about poi spinners that drives them to be endlessly creative in learning, and mind-numbingly dull in performance for the general public?

(/devils advocate)

grin
R



*note all the performers i have mentioned are HoP users.....
**apologies to ronan, till and anya, acciaio, G and others, all of whom have performed lovely routines since then that i have seen, but apart from the love story ubblove in principle they were still pretty much formulaic, just very goodformulaic.


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

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newgabe
newgabe

what goes around comes around. unless you're into stalls.
Location: Bali
Member Since: 3rd Mar 2005
Total posts: 4030
Posted:I agree with you. I like technical spinning and I am one of those who stands around squinting and going *phwoar* at antiinfinityuberslops then suggests an appropriate exit into a 45degreesdrizzlestall or whatever.

But I can watch a graceful Josh type or even a cutesypixieweaver on occasions and smile contentedly at sheer in the moment flow for quite a nice while too. And I think that is far more what people want to watch. Whilst on the topic of Josh, his well old *under the bridge* is still a most awesome clip and thats clubs! which I find very stiff and nasty things. SO if he can make THEM look fluid he is, lets face it, having a most unfair advantage over us average poiers.

I have never seen the slightest point in learning a 5btweave cos they look wierd. (Ok, and cos i tried once and failed miserably, but thanks for the attempt at teaching me, Ry!) But I like trying orbitals cos I think they look fine as a counterpoint to average circles, and stalls cos they are so witty, a good stall makes me laugh!

I like watching people like Ry and Brian Neller (locals) and Nick W and Burning Dan and Ronan (famous peeps) and Thomas (should be more famous) cos they look so comfortable with their poi and themselves when they are doing it. I can recognise that level of comfort comes from hours of just doing it, and it moves me to see people look settled in their flow, not struggling.
In fact, I don't think there's anything wrong with poi. I think there's just a few too many tried hards and a lot enough just do its.


.....Can't juggle balls but I sure as hell can juggle details....

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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:Originally Posted By: newgabeI agree with you.

No no NO!!! You can't agree with me! I'm wearing this itchy kevlar suit and nobody's going to flame me? This thing was expensive!!!

*hands Gabe a flamethrower*

Get to work!


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Durbs
Durbs

Classically British
Location: Epsom, Surrey, England
Member Since: 23rd Sep 2001
Total posts: 5688
Posted:Ok, i'll bite:
Originally Posted By: Doc
Poi is supposed to be beautiful. It's supposed to be trippy and haunting to watch. It's supposed to flow and change shape


Says who?
It might be what you enjoy watching, but this isn't set in stone. I get sick of watching airy-fairy "haunting" flailing about. Give me a sick, robotic ticking spinner or a super-tight-ninja of a spinner anyday over an "ooo i'm all floaty and light cos i spin on tip-toes" spinner any day.

I'd also argue it's easier to flow with the lesser technical moves as they've been around for longer and so people are better at them. Once people have practised the uber-tech moves, they'll flow just as well.
Josh being a fantastic case in point - he's been spinning for YEARS - before staff was even invented (probably). I'd be concerned if he couldn't gracefully spin a corkscrew. But something like the inverted atomic hyperfloop of certain-impending doom which was discovered last Tuesday - it's not going to be as flowy.

[Disclaimer: This post may be subject to some exaggeration]


Burner of Toast
Spinner of poi
Slacker of enormous magnitude

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Meanie
Snowplow

Member Since: 20th Nov 2008
Total posts: 18
Posted:Yeh I agree too. I am not a very good technical spinner, but I like learning a new move. the thrill of learning something complicated is great, and what it always does for me is expand my range of motion to a new level.

There is a very distinct difference between doing a show and doing some technical crap on the beach. The people that made me learn poi, both don't have the repetoire I do. But they do great shows. Explosive and stylish. And it both has merit in my opinion. Lets face it, 90% of human life forms don't even know what poi is.

5 beat weave is quite useful for screw ups by the way. If I make a stupid transition it's always good to finish it like a 5 beat weave instead of a 0 beat pants on fire. But that's just me I guess wink


Fire + Idiot * wind - brains = Oops

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Zazie
Zazie

There Is No Spoon
Location: Brighton
Member Since: 19th Jun 2007
Total posts: 68
Posted:I don't know who it was in the fashion industry who said that style should make people notice you, not your clothes. I think this applies to performance. Clothes don't look good unless you're wearing them. Poi aren't that entertaining on stage on their own. You are the performer, your prop isn't.

Have you ever seen a really good poi routine, which was really enjoyable to watch, where the performer themselves moved really badly?

I'm not going to get into the what-is-dance discussion (which by the way I hate; words are very crude and innaccurate maps of our world - if you really care go here and see if it enriches your life), I'm talking about the performer's movement, whatever you want to call it. Like it or not, you move when you spin poi, or anything else. It's not about techie vs. dance. The bottom line for me is creativity: Technical ability helps creativity by creating possibilities, and allowing ideas to materialise. You don't need to dance, but you're still on stage, and are the main part of your performance.

But the question asked was "what's wrong with poi?", not, "should we all be wiggling lots on stage?" So what is it about poi that makes it so difficult?

If you look at an aerial silks routine, you are watching the performer manipulating the fabric, but just as much so the fabric manipulating the performer. It totally changes the dynamic of everyday human movement: You are supporting your body weight with different parts, not just you feet, and have numerous points on which to attach yourself and ways to attach to them. It changes the way in which you move, but, strength and ability allowing, you have full control of your own movement.

Contact staff also requires you to move in a certain way, a way in which you usually wouldn't. You need to work with the staff, ducking your head to let it pass, in a direction in which you've sent it. It fosters certain kinds of movements. It's the way in which your body interacts with the staff that we're watching, not the staff. The staff is just turning. Sometimes antispinning, it can be stopped, moved in staccato etc. but it can't entertain on it's own for long.

So, poi; how does it interact with the body? I was going to link to an article Nick Woosley wrote but I now can't find it... But one thing he points out is that poi in many ways mimics natural human movement. From a biomechanical perspective, the body moves in arcs. Arc and circes, from a central point. Manipulating poi extends those circles, and is really an extension of very human movements. They mainly use your arms, and don't generally dictate or massively influence the movement of the rest of the body. They generally make your arms or wrists move in circles, and because they are as Durbs put it 'soft' they need those circles to provide momentum. When you want to make something that's not a circle, there are very specific movements needed e.g. a stall.

You don't have the same kind of two-way manipulation that you do with other discaplines. The movement of the poi generally HAS to be dictated by circle made by the point at which you're holding them (even if this point is you feet, mouth...). They don't interact with the body in the same way that other props might, and generally don't interact with many, if any other parts than those holding them. And it's your body that's really the important bit. I think techie tricks are important too, but it's your body that really performs these, the props just extend your movements. If you need to make circular movements constantly with certain parts of your body, it severely limits the rest of your body, unless you move it independantly, which doesn't generally give a satisfying or coherent feel, and is incredibly difficult. Someone somewhere on this thread pointed out that there aren't really any BIG moves with poi that really look like moves in themselves to non-spinners, like for example the matrix with a staff. That's because the matrix forces you to use your entire body and flail your arms in a christ-like bullet-dodging terribly dramatic kind of way.

All this is why I get a bit knarked (I feel knarked has a silent k...?) when people say "I just spin, I don't do dance/movement(/whatever)".

Well you do, you just don't do it very well.

So that's why I think poi is crap a lot harder to integrate into creative performance than most discaplines. Whether that's dance, narrative, circus, theatre, post-modern expressive jumping about, or just getting your techie tricks across to a crowd.

Of course there are some amazing poi spinners who make it look incredible, and all credit to them because I think it is genuinely very difficult to do. Going back to Nick, I love the philosophy of the Scales of Poi DVD which aims toward complete freedom of movement. Which of course takes us back to the body; Nick is very in tune with his body which is a large part of what makes him such a great spinner, and his technically ability allows him to move in the ways he wants to, while working with the circles dictated by the poi - by years of refinement and working with the natural flow of poi he's developed a captivating movement style, and it's that movement and ability to move with and control the poi that make him good. Not just fancy tricks. Or wiggling about.

I like big sticks.


Three years of my life that took. And I get; "... nice."

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mcp
mcp

Flying Water Muppet
Location: Edin-borrow.
Member Since: 20th May 2003
Total posts: 5276
Posted:Errrrr, this is getting right into : What makes poi Beautiful territory. You might want to check that thread out Zazie, shame it's about poi.

I've been thinking about writing a bit about style. I think I maybe finally understand what Drew means by style... It only took me like three years or something. Super-happy-now.


"the now legendary" - Kaskade
"the still legendary" - Kaskade

I spunked in my friend's aquarium and the fish ate it. I love all fish. Especially the pink ones. They are my bitches. - Anon.

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Zazie
Zazie

There Is No Spoon
Location: Brighton
Member Since: 19th Jun 2007
Total posts: 68
Posted:Yeah it is about poi, but to talk about poi specifically you have to compare it to different things to see how it's different. I'm talking a lot about creative performance because that's what the original post seems to be asking about... and yes sorry it was a bit rambly, I did read through the whole four pages and store up lots of things in my head so maybe it came out a bit wibbled.

Three years of my life that took. And I get; "... nice."

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aston
aston

Unofficial Chairperson of Squirrel Defense League
Location: South Africa
Member Since: 2nd Dec 2007
Total posts: 4061
Posted:Whoah.... Where did that come from...?

Some good points made though about how poi can be done without (much) movement. Someone earlier said that a common crit is essentially "Move yer foots". So you are suggesting that it is more "move your body".

I wonder if you can make a good performance with your feet planted but the rest of you moving....

Any takers?


'We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad." [said the Cat.]
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "Or you wouldn't have come here."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

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Zazie
Zazie

There Is No Spoon
Location: Brighton
Member Since: 19th Jun 2007
Total posts: 68
Posted:I think you could definately do a good poi routine without much movement, if you do it well. Not necessarily about how much you move, just in what way, whether you've actually thought about it and planned your stillness... in choreograohic terms, stillness is movement to. Yeah, I know. But it is. I guess in the same way that zero is a number.

Three years of my life that took. And I get; "... nice."

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burning dan
stranger
Location: hollywood, ca
Member Since: 3rd Dec 2004
Total posts: 18
Posted:Originally Posted By: mcp
It would certainly change your view if you saw two burning dan's doing perfect synchronised burning dan style spinning.


awww meg - that's the sweetest thing you've ever said to me.
it's going straight to my CV.

I'd certainly love to see that too.


WYLSTBFYN?

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NathanielEverist
NathanielEverist

enthusiast
Location: Melbourne
Member Since: 20th Aug 2007
Total posts: 315
Posted:Damn, this is such an interesting discussion! Really touching on some issues that've been running through my head lately.

One of the few points that hasn't been touched on much yet in my opinion, is that poi is still too young. It is constantly evolving, new movements, tricks and ideas are crawling out of the woodwork of people's minds constantly, and so there may be the aspect biding for some people. Some may be thinking: "Ok, there's still new stuff coming out, I'll wait until the ideas stop flowing, or at least slow down, so when I decide to put something together, I'll have a larger selection of possibilities".

For instance, say I wanted to communicate something through poi, but for lack of an appropriate movement, avoided that particular point, or substituted something lacking in it's place. Then, one year later, you discover a movement that would've gone perfectly in that slot. I know that I personally would lament the fact that the earlier performance wasn't as good as it could've been had I have waited for poi's evolution to continue for bit longer.

Another problem with communicating narrative with poi, is that communication usually requires an understanding of meaning of what's being "said" by both sides. Even if the communicator had attached meaning to his movement, the communicatee is unlikely to share that common understanding, like two people speaking different languages, making the communication of narrative through movement something that's very tricky without the usage of costume, props etc, not just for poi, but for all forms of art through movement.

Mime is the exception to this rule, because it creates the illusion of props, and when done well, the audience will understand what prop the mime artist has conjured, and the artist can then use that prop to help communicate his story.

However, there still remains some things that cannot be effectively communicated without more direct means of communication, like word or image. Even music without lyrics can merely create mood, emotion, atmosphere and sometimes scenery. The story itself must be attached by the listener, and while many people can and will make a story from the music, it is unlikely to be the same as what others will interpret the music's story to be, or even different from the message intended to be communicated by the musician. The same is true for poi, in that it is possible to communicate mood, emotion, atmosphere etc though poi alone, without even incorporating the aid of music. But to communicate narrative, poi in and of itself is sadly limited.

This is just addressing the issues of poi as an art form, separate from the debate that's sprung up that isn't so much "what's wrong with poi" but rather "what's wrong with poiistas, or the poi community?"

Succeeding to generalisations, it could be, as MNS said, that many many poiistas are hippies, which classically aren't the most driven or hard-working people, and to create something beautiful does require work.

Other problems may be lack of willingness by people to put the effort in to create not only a narrative, but the means of telling that narrative. This is probably due to the fact that many poiers are hobbyists, interested in learning it for fun and looking cool, but may have a limited interest in poi as an expressive medium. Or, perhaps for the same reason, don't have the performance education required to tell employ poi as such a medium, even if they wanted to.

Then, there's the means and end argument, that people will merely choose their means to an end, and should the end be the same, they will naturally choose the easiest means. If the end is to impress your audience, a non-spinning audience will probably be impressed if you light something on fire and spin it around quickly. An intermediate spinning audience may be pleased by a display of technical aptitude.
A veteran spinner, who has seem all the technical aptitude in the world 10 times over, will be far more captivated by a spinner who has style, rhythm or is able to communicate a mood. However, because the number of such people in the world and the likelihood of such people making up a worthy percentage of the audience is quite small, it seems unnecessary to do such a thing, and so, performances will tend to be either fast and with the illusion of danger, or technically difficult.

That said, I have started to work on a few ideas for narrative communication, but can only communicate simple concepts so far.

Sorry for the excessively long post, but like I said, it's an issue that I've been giving a lot of thought, what do you guys think?


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DaG
DaG

Golf buggie driving instructor
Location: Brisvegas
Member Since: 21st Jun 2005
Total posts: 156
Posted:Nathanial clap great post! allow me to discuss

Quote:is that poi is still too young. It is constantly evolving, new movements, tricks and ideas are crawling out of the woodwork of people's minds constantly, +10
totally agree and its something that i find extremely exciting.
Although this does create a problem in that Quote:"Ok, there's still new stuff coming out, I'll wait until the ideas stop flowing, or at least slow down, so when I decide to put something together, I'll have a larger selection of possibilities".
I understand where you are coming from with this. Although i think that it is through attempting to describe narratives that the vocabulary with which to tell those stories will becomes more apparent.
If movements are done as 'tricks' then they will mainly make sense within the context of a techy tricky spin.
if movements are done as expressive gestures then that's how they will develop


in relation to not wanting to do a piece because better movements may become apparent later- you may never do a perfect piece. you may be like me and have a hidden perfectionist streak that prevents me from ever being
fully happy with anything i produce. but i think to wait for a larger trick vocabulary to be created before moving forward is a bit like building a working car then waiting for someone else to build the wheels.

Quote:
However, there still remains some things that cannot be effectively communicated without more direct means of communication, like word or image. Even music without lyrics can merely create mood, emotion, atmosphere and sometimes scenery. The story itself must be attached by the listener, and while many people can and will make a story from the music, it is unlikely to be the same as what others will interpret the music's story to be, or even different from the message intended to be communicated by the musician. The same is true for poi, in that it is possible to communicate mood, emotion, atmosphere etc though poi alone, without even incorporating the aid of music. But to communicate narrative, poi in and of itself is sadly limited.

in any and every form of art the observer re-writes the artwork. a reader re- writes a text, a viewer re-interprets Picasso,
a song can seem to speak directly to you and mean one thing, while being equally profound for someone else and meaning a
totally different thing.
That doesn't make the art work any less profound, instead it speaks volumes about the artists ability to touch many people on many levels and to my mind in my mind is the beauty of art.

Because of this I believe that narrative doesn't have to be literal, you can take people on a journey without them knowing exactly where or why they are going.
it is because of this I believe simple stories are best, i think Mr Om does this well in his AYA circus chows.

on the whole i don't think there is a problem with poi.
we have an amazing community filled with amazing insightful people who are some of the friendliest i have ever met.

poi is just young, that is it.
and its up to us to take this thing by the horns and make whatever we choose from it.




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Mother_Natures_Son
Mother_Natures_Son

Rampant whirler.
Location: Geelong, Victoria, Australia!
Member Since: 1st Aug 2007
Total posts: 2418
Posted:Originally Posted By: NathanielEveristSucceeding to generalisations, it could be, as MNS said, that many many poiistas are hippies, which classically aren't the most driven or hard-working people, and to create something beautiful does require work.

I forgot about this thread long ago and it seems its gathered a lot of posts since I last saw it.

I just wanted to make it clear that i was kidding when I made my comment about dirty smelly hippies, I would probably come under than umbrella myself in some ways.


hug

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mcp
mcp

Flying Water Muppet
Location: Edin-borrow.
Member Since: 20th May 2003
Total posts: 5276
Posted:Wow, a couple more great posts, but just quickly, I have to reply:

What's wrong with poi? Your mum is what's wrong with poi.

[exempting dave knox.]


"the now legendary" - Kaskade
"the still legendary" - Kaskade

I spunked in my friend's aquarium and the fish ate it. I love all fish. Especially the pink ones. They are my bitches. - Anon.

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MRC
MRC

Funky Blessings Daily

Member Since: 17th Jun 2008
Total posts: 215
Posted:Personally I'm not worried about narrative.

I just want to express...maybe a mood, but more than anything I want it to look good. I think the music will often hold a lot of detail on narrative, and if you follow a song with you movements I feel like a certain portion of the work is done for you.

I like finding new moves. Things like "contact" with my sock poi. Wrist wrapping and letting go until the handle comes back around. Different tosses and such. I like that I can find moves still. Look at breakdancing in it's relatively brief existence it has developed by leaps and bounds.


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simta
simta

compfuzzled
Location: hastings
Member Since: 11th Apr 2006
Total posts: 1182
Posted:Originally Posted By: MRCLook at breakdancing in it's relatively brief existence it has developed by leaps and bounds.

but even from the start there were lots of routines which contained a narrative.


"the geeks have got you" - Gayle

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NathanielEverist
NathanielEverist

enthusiast
Location: Melbourne
Member Since: 20th Aug 2007
Total posts: 315
Posted:Originally Posted By: DaG
on the whole i don't think there is a problem with poi.
we have an amazing community filled with amazing insightful people who are some of the friendliest i have ever met.

poi is just young, that is it.
and its up to us to take this thing by the horns and make whatever we choose from it.

Very well said. I agree entirely, poi is whatever the observer perceives it as. There's a name for this theory in media studies... "uses and gratification" is a theory of transmission, that sounds like what it is. People use various things to satisfy specific needs. The same is true for poi. Some people will use sock poi primarily as socks, and the balls for throwing... Other people will see poi as an instrument for dance (this is how I feel). Others yet see it as a means of showing off "tricks" or technical skills, some think fitness, performance, a means of social acceptance...

Ultimately, poi is what you want it to be for you.


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DaG
DaG

Golf buggie driving instructor
Location: Brisvegas
Member Since: 21st Jun 2005
Total posts: 156
Posted:Originally Posted By: mcp
What's wrong with poi? Your mum is what's wrong with poi.

[exempting dave knox.]
I know its a bit late but i feel i must.

hahahaha

INTERNET HIGH FIVE
Gabe rocks!




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