What makes a performance or video awesome cannot be entirely distilled into an objective system. The following is an exploration of the elements that make performances awesome:
Creativity / originality: A unique, creative, and original performance is usually more interesting than something people have seen before. But “different” doesn’t always add up to interesting. Sometimes attempts to be original can seem gimmicky, so search deep for true creative inspiration. There is inherently no formula to do this!
Set and setting: Where does the performance take place? Does the setting match the performance? Are there any props within the performance area? For live shows, even the most simple props can help create a sense of space. All it takes is a cue that sets off the imaginations of those watching. For videos, of course it’s well worth the time to go somewhere beautiful or dramatic. If you take the time to use or create the right setting, people are more likely to take the time to watch your performance!
Costumes: Costumes and makeup can accentuate the movements and features, and expression of the performers. It also helps set the mood and plot. The right costume will ensure that the audience is watching the performer and the storyline, not just the spinning objects.
Choice of music: This will have a huge effect on the performance. No piece of music is right for everybody, and thus no performance can please everybody. Whether you’re creating or watching a performance, it’s worth some time to ask why you like music.
Musicality: Having a meaningful piece of music is just the first step. Perhaps more important is whether the performers actually work with the music. Are their movements progressing with the music? Are they bringing the music alive? Are you and the music following a story together?
Dance and physical theatre: Poi and object manipulation is interesting, and so are people. The audience doesn’t just watch the prop, they watch the performer. So the important question is this: Is there something to watch? Are you the performer interesting? Or are you hiding behind the prop? Imagine you had to do your performance with no props and figure out how it would be interesting anyway.
Technical spinning skill: Obviously this is important for any poi or flow show, but it doesn’t mean doing all your hardest tricks. Often it’s better to stick with the movements you know the best. Simple things done well will look better than difficult moves performed awkwardly.
Storyline and artistic content: Is there any artistic content to your show? Is there a storyline? This doesn’t have to be a literal storyline (which can be didactic), it might be an emotional progression, or even just be an interesting evolution of the way you are interacting with the poi. Anything that draws the audience into the performance is better than a simple series of moves and tricks.
Choreography: If there are multiple performers, it’s obviously important how the move together and interact.
Cinematography and editing: For videos, the camera work has an important role in bringing the story to the audience. Remember though that people usually want to watch the performance, not the camera work. Sometimes people get so carried away with fancy camera angles and editing that the actual performance seems incidental to the showing off of camera and editing work.