Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Costumes Have you ever taken the time to fully absorb all the beautifully intricate details found in a tribal fusion belly dance costume? A couple of years ago, I became completely obsessed with these magnificent costumes, which I believed could be celebrated as […]
Follow my blog with Bloglovin Harnessing the Beauty of Autumn Autumn is here, and it has to be my favourite season. This is because it offers such a rich visual experience to any artist. A variety of warm earth tones and crinkled textures from […]
The long and warm summer evenings are upon us. To make the most out of this weather, we have been down the beach to practise our poi spinning, hoop and slack lining skills.
What is Poi?
Poi spinning is a dance based performance. The set of poi are used as a prop to create visual patterns. They become an extension to the movements of the body and accentuate each move. The ‘poi’ is a weight attached to a cord or tether. The weight is swung in a combination of circles, loops and arcs to create patterns. These are greatly enhanced and most visible when the poi heads are on fire or made out of colourful LEDs.
I first discovered spinning poi about ten years ago when I met my partner, Steve. Since I first started spinning, it has exploded in popularity and has developed into many styles.
Poi originates from Maori culture and is traditionally performed by groups of women. This is accompanied by traditional songs and dance routines, whilst swinging the poi in unison. The poi strings are much shorter than contemporary poi. Simple shapes and patterns are created and repeated throughout the dance routine.
Dancing with the poi is the most spontaneous form of spinning that I know of. This is my favourite way to spin, and it feels like a form of moving meditation. No thinking is required, the spinner just goes with what feels good. This is often referred to as ‘flow’ and hence the term ‘flow arts’ is also used to refer to poi other forms of object manipulation.
Tech spinning requires less whole body movement than poi dancing. So tech spinners tend to be more stationary. The movement is predominantly in the upper body, especially in the arms and shoulders. Tech spinners focus upon more intricate and complicated interactions with the poi heads and play with timing and direction, more purposefully. This video by Russian spinner Ivan [Mel] Gorbunov, was my first introduction to tech spinning.
Contact Poi and Poi Juggling (Poi-ggling)
Contact poi is really a hybrid between poi spinning and contact juggling. Therefore, practise contact balls, are attached to a thicker tether and weighted handles are used to act as a counter weight. This slows the poi down when thrown. It provides the spinners with an opportunity to ‘bounce’ the poi off their body.
Typically, other forms of poi spinning use a pair of poi. However, many contact spinners like to use three poi heads because this enables them to juggle with the poi as well. Traditional poi moves have been adapted and combined. This has created tricks that require the poi heads to interact with the body. This includes rolling the poi across parts of the body, like contact juggling as demonstrated in this Keith Marshall poi video.
Partner poi is all about sharing the fun. A pair or group of spinners dance and move together as their bodies and poi interact with each other. Therefore, new moves and patterns are created in this form of spinning. German based poi performance group Loooop are masters in creating playful and visually stunning partner poi routines.
Spinning with Fire
The addition of fire flames certainly brings a magical element to the audience when watching fire spinning. The trailing fire, enhances the patterns created by the poi spinner. The moving flames roar as swing through the air. This sound emphasis the danger element of fire spinning.
Like fire spinning, glow poi are great for spinning with at night and outside. The light trails momentarily capture the patterns created by the poi heads. In recent years, LED technology has greatly advanced. A poi performer can now programme the colours and sequences of the LEDs in their poi to correspond to a track of music. The technology created by Apixel Toys can also create photographic images as seen in this photographic stills video by Japanese spinner Yuta.
Timing and Direction
To really make the most out of spinning a set of poi, the spinner should understand how to change the timing and direction of the poi heads. This knowledge helps to access advanced moves and tricks. This video by American multi-prop manipulator Noel Yee explains the concept in more detail.
Sharing Knowledge and Expansion of Poi
The poi community has expanded due to the rise of internet forums. The popularity of YouTube, has helped to rapidly grow the knowledge base. This has enabled poi spinners to share and discover new tricks and styles of poi. It will be interesting to see where this sharing of knowledge takes poi spinning over the next couple of years.
Summer Collection 2017 by Vaudeville Hippie Vaudeville Hippie is excited and proud to introduce our summer collection for 2017. This is because we have included a new practise poi design, lighter weight newsboy caps and a vibrant alternative to our up-cycled statement necklaces. Inspiration This collection […]
Featured Item One of VHippie’s handmade, one of a kind art textile dolls was recently featured in another blog. This was really exciting news because it was really nice to have some positive feedback about my dolls. Most of all, to be acknowledged and for someone to […]
My Creative Journey
Vaudeville Hippie has been a creative journey. Initially sparked by learning the art of hoop dance, which was the gateway to discover other dance forms and styles. This post tracks that creative journey.
Hoop dance became a massive turning point in my life. This is me in 2008 when I first discovered the joy and addiction of hula hooping. It is also the first hoop I ever made.
Hoop Dance Aesthetic
Like many newbie hoopers I became obsessed with all things hoop related from learning tricks, making hoops, visiting forums and the hoop dance style that seemed to be emerging. At the time I would not have known how to describe this style but now I would say that the hoopers fused styles from cyberpunk, tribal fusion belly dance and hippie faerie festival wear, amongst other influences. This is probably most notable in ‘The Good Vibe Hoop Tribe’s‘ video. One of the first hoop dance videos to inspire me. Despite the low quality I still enjoy watching this from time to time.
I kept watching these hoop videos on YouTube, desperately trying to find information about a particular a style of trousers that many of the hoopers were wearing.
After a lot of searching on google images, tribes.net and even eBay using terms like ‘hoop trousers’ or ‘split flared trousers’ I discovered that this style of trouser originated from tribal fusion belly dance and they are called Melodia Pants. This style is also worn for yoga.
Tribal Fusion Belly Dance
Up until this point I was only aware of Cabaret Belly Dance. Therefore, the discovery of Tribal Fusion was really exciting. My interest with this style of belly dance, was not just for it’s aesthetic but also for new ways of moving with the hoop. There are differences in dance moves and technique too. When compared with each other, visually they are very different. Tribal Fusion and Gothic Belly Dance are much darker in colour using heavier fabrics and embellishment. Whilst reading up on the Tribal Fusion style the phrases ‘earthy’ and ‘grounded’ kept cropping up and it took me a while to fully understand what that actually meant.
Illustration inspired by the East Coast Tribal DVD cover
During my quest for comprehensive belly dance instructional DVD I came across the World Dance New York series who specialise in all genres of belly dance, as well as other forms of dance. Here I discovered Sera Solstice and her East Coast Tribal Belly Dance DVD.
For a time, I became a little bit obsessed with belly dance and felt compelled to dig a little further. This led me to the discovery of Rachel Brice and I fell in love with Rachel’s style. Brice has collected and combined a range of accessories from around the world, allowing her to achieve her unique tribal fusion costume style. Sometime later, I discovered that Rachel also dresses and dances in a vaudeville style.
Pin Up and Rockabilly
Although I was aware of the ‘vintage look’ it had never occurred to me to explore the style visually. I love the elegance, but also the bright red hair and lips. Whilst delving into the world of pin up I stumbled across rockabilly.
Pin Up and Rockabilly are similar in style. This is through make-up and choice of 1950s fashion. Pin Up, however, is more glamorous and focuses on modelling. Whereas Rockabilly grew out of the rockabilly music. It has a bit more attitude with tattooed and pierced girls.
So there you have it, my creative journey from hoop dance to rockabilly.
Choosing a Suitable Brand Name When I was deciding upon a brand identity I wanted to choose something that naturally reflected my passion. I have been learning circus skills for many years, and this played an important of this decision. Visually, the circus theme has limitless […]