the joy of poi: creating content that tells us why

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 9:14 AM

the joy of poi: creating content that tells us why

This year I undertook a personal challenge to present poi as an activity that brings joy.

Why? Because it is true, and because there is power to that truth. Power in personal evolution, to bring people together, create new social and neural connections, power to heal and grow, and to bring pure and simple *joy*. I also took on this challenge, because I haven’t been able to explain what it is that we do in a universal way, even though we’ve been doing it for almost two decades. And the best way to explain a what, is to start with why.

I’ve been longing for 10+years for more content portraying the *why* of spinning poi. There are countless videos on the hows, the whats and the whos of poi spinning. These videos have played a critical role in spreading the activity, teaching new tricks and techniques, and inspiring legions of new poi practitioners around the world. By and large they are made by poi spinners for poi spinners. Awesome for a niche community, but they don’t easily tell our friends and family why we spin poi, or dance with other flow arts props.

photo by ariel mcbride

Why? Because Anything + Poi = Better: Spinning poi changes lives for the better. Anyone who has gotten their first turn or 3-beat weave, knows there’s some special ju-ju in the motion.

There are countless testimonials on how spinning poi and learning other flow arts have gotten people into their bodies, out of unhealthy addictions, improved health and well-being, and even enhanced their understanding of math and physics.

Parents have thanked us for getting their kids to stop playing so many video games. Even kids have thanked us for getting them to stop playing so many video games. The Life is Beautiful video contest showcases many inspiring stories from around the world about the transformative power of the flow arts.

While not everyone needs a life-changing hobby, many of us spend hours working at a computer or doing repetitive tasks, and could do with a healthy, portable and accessible activity that gets us moving, brings oxygen to our brains, and is fun and joyful. With so many amazing benefits and testimonies, it’s hard not to want to share.

photo by sydney eastmanI’ll have what she’s having: Content that make a difference are ones that convey the *feeling* that spinning poi brings – the quintessential When Harry Met Sally,  “I’ll have what she’s having” moment. Nick Woolsey’s “When Circles Dream” is probably the closest thing that came to channeling that feeling in the poi world, enticing tens possibly hundreds of thousands of people around the world to order a serving of poi on their activity menu.

Flowtoys has made many hip and awesome flow videos. Videos are one of our main channels for spreading our artform and creations, while also promoting the artists that we collaborate with. This year in line with our 10th anniversary, we challenged ourselves to create fresh content that speak to more people, and to present the flow arts in different ways that made the activity more accessible and aspirational to people, who aren’t already spinning in the choir.

I know we’re not alone. The Flow Arts Institute launched a new web platform this year and has begun creating content on a much more active level, providing the world with quality flow educational resources, training and retreats. Poi ambassador and videographer Nicky Evers publicly released Flow Arts: A Film in June 2015, documenting the emerging flow arts culture with the aim of providing greater exposure, participation and support for the artform. Avid poi spinner and cinematographer Ted Petrosky’s Momentum DVD, which was also released in June 2015, showcases some of today’s most innovative spinners and object manipulators with an edgy, urban vibe.

Our personal challenge was to create a video for a wider audience, to reach out to people who might have seen poi spinning at a Maori show, or exotic firedancers and circus performers at an event, and to present a context for poi spinning that we can all relate to.

Poi spinners don’t all have dreads or dress like circus freaks all the time. Most of the time we wear normal clothes, (us lady spinners love our yoga pants :), and we get together with friends to do an activity that we enjoy. Thus was born the storyboard for the Joy of Poi video. A simple storyline of friends coming together to have a good time, to learn, to laugh and play, share a meal and a cup of tea, to journey through life together sharing love for a common interest – in this case, spinning poi.

The Joy of Poi video: This was the first of the flowtoys 2.0 videos that we set out to make. Here it is in all its joyful glory:

I’m very much looking forward to publishing the next blog article, which goes into the making of the Joy of Poi video, including how we chose the artists, challenges we faced from the get go, how we found the perfect music and clothing, tips on making good videos and more. Hang tight, or sign up for our mailing list or follow us on facebook for announcements of when the next post will be published.

In the mean time, we invite you to create more diverse content and plant more seeds with the faith and knowledge that they will flourish in different soils and grow into trees that support more life, and more of the good stuff in life. EnJOY!


This blog post was written by flowtoys co-founder, Prisna von Stade, who enjoys planting seeds of creation.

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