Poi is a form of dance, where weights on the ends of tethers are swung through rhythmical patterns.
Poi dancing outside of Maori culture is a more recent development, and is quite different than traditional Maori poi.
Poi was initially popularized outside of New Zealand through the performance art of fire spinning, which is not part of Maori tradition or culture. Nobody seems to know who first invented “fire poi,” or when it happened.
Although this new version of poi was initially inspired by traditional Maori poi, it quickly changed as it spread around the world. Enthusiasts invented new moves and borrowed from other disciplines, such as juggling, club swinging, dance, and rhythmic gymnastics.
Over time, poi enthusiasts turned to flag poi, LED poi, and other tools that express the beauty of poi without the health and environmental risks of fire. Yet the name “poi” stuck.
This new version of poi appeals to people who are looking for a dynamic and engaging physical activity that is less intense than martial arts or competitive sports. There is now a global community of enthusiasts devoted to “global fusion poi,” and the Internet serves as a medium for exchanging ideas and enthusiasm.
To learn more about non-Maori poi, explore this website!
To learn more about Maori poi, we recommend booking a trip to New Zealand, or checking to see if there are Maori people in your own area to talk to. Only the Maori people can help you understand their culture and traditions.
If you have any questions, contact us!
*Traditional Maori Image used in header image above: Image by Honet via Wikimedia.