How to Practice: A starter guide for Non Beginners

Posted on December 6, 2013 by

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20131205-062640.jpgAt the onset of our journey of flow, we begin exploring how to do something, which we might call a move, to build a foundation of skills. While these elements of the journey are an undeniable foundation for the performer, in a sense, they are least significant.

Least significant? Yes, least significant. Because at the end of the day, anyone can be taught the moves and it is the style with which they are delivered that truly differentiates artists.

At Temple of Poi, our goal is to empower the artist in each of us to truly speak our unique essence. As part of that process we believe it is critical to step beyond the skills and create something far more significant. We like to say, “Anyone can do a weave; only you can do a weave like you.”

When you first start spinning your focus is on the basics: moves. This is natural because you have to be able to do one move before you can transition from it to another. After you have a baseline of moves you no longer just focus on the moves themselves because you’re also focused on how to connect the moves with other moves while expressing the moves with style. As a result, if you want to support your evolution as an artist, your practice should then be restructured to reflect the new goals you wish to incorporate in to your practice.

Here’s our recommendation for beginners who can execute the moves from the Beginner Poi Moves Series (weaves, chasing the sun/sweeps, butterflies, pinwheels, corkscrews) to begin to add flow and style to their practice. Start by dividing your practice into three main focal points:

  • Part one: continue with your skill practice. This means you should continue to develop your skills because no matter how many you know there will always be a hundreds more to learn. Best as we can tell, poi and other flow arts are an infinite practice with ever increasing levels of subtlety and depth available in our own personal practice so exploration of skills never needs to stop. I doubt I could find a person in the world who would say they could do every poi move because the combinations and possibilities are so complex as to seem virtually endless. Your focus with skills will constantly evolve, not just as you do, but also as the art form does. Moves in the poi world can be like fads and are continually being distinguished.
  • Part two: go back to each move you’ve done and apply style. By this I mean go back to the 7 layer dip and using each layer, apply it to each move you know. For example, take 30 seconds to apply all the layers of the dip to one specific move, or take 30 seconds to explore a particular layer of the dip as it applies to many moves. You could do this for one song at a time or intermittently within your practice. Either way, you want to try and apply each of the levels to each of the moves that you know. This is sort of an endless practice because there’s so many different ways you can apply multiple layers at a time to single move. By exploring each of these layers though, ultimately, you will be expanding your own sense of style.
  • Part 3: Part three is about focusing on the flow between the moves. This can be accomplished by developing individual combos that you use to integrate moves (like we do in the dance and combo classes). It could also be done through follow-the-leader-videos, some of which you can find on our YouTube channel and a few we have in our for purchase database as well.  This practice is about being able to access the moves you know in your repertoire and effectively get from one to the next without getting stuck much. We recommend you start by developing combos with 3-6 moves in them and practicing those specific sequences so that, just as a move would become second nature, so too would this set of moves we’re calling a combo. Eventually, as you integrate more and more combinations, you will feel more ease with your flow overall. initially your goal should be to follow the 3 second rule — change something about what you’re doing every 3 seconds.

Need help constructing a practice that makes sense? Let me be your Study Buddy — sign up today.

Written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek professional guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <at> TempleOfPoi <daught> com).