Poi Dance – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Dance Styles Glossary

I. What is Poi Dance?

Poi dance is a traditional Maori dance form that originated in New Zealand. It involves the use of poi, which are weighted balls attached to cords or chains that are swung in rhythmic patterns. Poi dance is a unique and captivating art form that combines elements of dance, rhythm, and coordination.

II. History of Poi Dance

Poi dance has been practiced by the Maori people of New Zealand for centuries. The word “poi” actually means “ball” in the Maori language. Originally, poi were used by Maori women to keep their hands flexible for weaving and other tasks. Over time, poi evolved into a form of dance and entertainment.

Poi dance was traditionally performed by both men and women, with each gender having their own specific movements and styles. The dance was often used to tell stories, celebrate special occasions, or as a form of spiritual expression.

III. Types of Poi

There are several different types of poi used in poi dance. The most common type is the traditional poi, which consists of a ball attached to a cord or chain. There are also fire poi, which are poi that are set on fire for a dramatic effect. LED poi are another popular type, which use LED lights to create stunning visual effects.

In addition to the different types of poi, there are also different styles of poi dance. Some styles focus on intricate hand movements, while others emphasize fluid body movements. Each style of poi dance has its own unique characteristics and challenges.

IV. Techniques and Movements in Poi Dance

Poi dance involves a wide range of techniques and movements that require skill, coordination, and practice. Some of the basic movements in poi dance include weaves, reels, stalls, and isolations. Weaves involve swinging the poi in a figure-eight pattern, while reels involve spinning the poi in a circular motion.

Stalls are when the poi come to a sudden stop, creating a dramatic effect. Isolations involve moving the poi in a way that creates the illusion of floating or hovering in mid-air. These movements can be combined in endless ways to create unique and mesmerizing routines.

V. Cultural Significance of Poi Dance

Poi dance holds significant cultural importance for the Maori people of New Zealand. It is a way to connect with their ancestors, tell stories, and celebrate their heritage. Poi dance is often performed at cultural events, ceremonies, and festivals as a way to preserve and share Maori traditions.

In addition to its cultural significance, poi dance has also gained popularity around the world as a form of artistic expression and entertainment. Many people are drawn to the beauty and grace of poi dance, as well as the physical and mental benefits it provides.

VI. Modern Poi Dance Trends

In recent years, poi dance has experienced a resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to social media and the internet. Many talented poi dancers have gained a following online, showcasing their skills and creativity to a global audience. Poi dance has also been incorporated into music festivals, dance performances, and other events as a form of entertainment.

Modern poi dancers are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible with poi, experimenting with new techniques, styles, and props. Some dancers incorporate acrobatics, martial arts, and other disciplines into their poi routines, creating truly innovative and dynamic performances.

Overall, poi dance continues to evolve and thrive as a vibrant and dynamic art form that captivates audiences around the world. Its rich history, cultural significance, and modern trends make it a truly unique and fascinating dance form that will continue to inspire and entertain for generations to come.