Drex is no stranger to the poi and flow arts world. He's a prolific content creator, who not only consistently posts inspiring poi-in-action content, but also grows the artform through producing a range of education resources, including online tutorials, in-person lessons and workshops, video and tech blogs - yeah he's prolific. He also provides poi equipment reviews, organizes an annual top 10 spinners wrap-up, and started Poi Chat, a 25k member Facebook group dedicated to sharing all things poi.
We are proud to call Drex a friend, and so happy that we got to spend quality time with him during Firedrums recently. Read on to find out more about how Drex got started spinning poi, what motivates him, and what he's up to these days...
What's your "flow origin story?" How did you get started?
I went to my first Burning Man in 2006 and without a doubt the thing that captivated me the most was the fire spinning.
Whether it was the fire spin jams or the more choreographed pieces in conclave, fire spinning without a doubt was what grabbed me most about that first time I attended. Watching fire conclave for the first time made me want to learn how to spin fire myself.
After I got home I asked around to see if there was anybody in my circle of friends who knew how to do "that fire thing". Finally, after quite a bit of asking I had one friend answer, "What? Do you mean poi?" and I jumped on it (at the time, I had no idea what the term meant - it just sounded suitably exotic to match up with my picture of what this art was). I took a lesson from a friend and discovered that I was...terrible. And I nearly gave up.
Then my roommate returned from a holiday in Thailand with a set of fire poi he'd purchased for me at a street market there and it got me practicing on my own. I found a local spin jam just down the street from where I was living and made friends, learned new things, and discovered the community around spinning was one of the best parts of it.
I dove in headfirst and I've never looked back!
What inspires you to play & practice more?
That's changed quite a bit over the years. At first, it was the rush of learning a new trick and challenging myself to add everything to my toolbox that I could. More recently it's the feeling I get after an hour of dancing with my poi. Like I'm breathing with my whole body. Spinning is still how I reward myself after a long day of work and I've never had a moment where it didn't reward my patience and focus with a feeling of contentment, satisfaction, and accomplishment.
How do you overcome blocks? Any tips or techniques for getting through humps?
Learn to love them.
It's simple arithmetic that the majority of the time you spend learning any skill is going to be spent on a plateau or in between major accomplishments. If a person lives for those moments, they'll find that there's no art or past time in the world that will continue to give them that rush of learning new things and making strides constantly.
The trick is to accept that the plateaus are coming and look at them as opportunities. What did I learn in my last breakthrough and how can I refine it? What did it teach me about this skill and what does that tell me about where I can go with it next? We all experience doldrums and they're all temporary. I find it's helpful to greet them like an old friend rather than treat them like an adversary.
What flowtoys do you spin, what new flowtoys are you looking forward to?
I have an old set of crystal poi and several of the old flow lights...water, spirit, freedom, fire, water 2, there are a lot of them in there!
I have an original beta set of first generation podpoi as well as two other sets that see regular use. One set has been modded with phatty flow cord to help them show up better on video.
I have a set of double staves with capsules as well as an old modular contact staff. I also have a hipsack, a pair of action pants, and a bunch of t-shirts that Flowtoys has produced over the years.
What I like most about all of them is Flowtoys' strong sense of industrial design. Everything the company produces feels both like a product that's been custom engineered for flow artists rather than hacked from off the shelf parts as well as feeling surprisingly organic and looking quite elegant.
As for podpoi themselves, their strength is definitely in their versatility. They are just as useful as your first pair of poi as they are your tenth - with the exception of contact poi (which can be done with a flowmoja set), they can be used for any and every type of poi trick. They're especially useful for partner poi, where the ability to have poi that can handle a lot of abuse as well as soft enough to have minimal impact while working through tight spaces around and in between bodies is super important!
I'm interested in the new Vision Poi and look forward to flowtoys producing an LED knob handle!
What is Drex working on these days?
The core of my work is education. Flow Arts has had an immeasurably positive effect on my life and I want to bring that joy to other peoples' lives. To that end, I offer several different ways for people to learn and come into the art: first, through my free online tutorials--an a la carte selection of tricks, tips, and resources regarding poi and the flow arts.
Second, I offer more structured instruction for people who want a more directed learning experience with the courses I have on my learning site at learn.drexfactor.com. Next, for people who want to learn basic skills but don't have a lot of time I offer The Flow Circle as a reward on my Patreon member site--giving people weekly drills that they can do for 10-15 minutes/day to improve their foundational skills and work at their own pace.
Finally, I offer in-person instruction both in the DC metro area as well as through workshop tours in various parts of the country. People can learn more about these in-person lessons at drexfactor.com/upcomingevents
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