Flaming balls of fire attached to a string, spinning in perfect rhythm around your body. As dangerous as it sounds, this fascinating visual art performance is becoming a rage among many youngsters in the city. As the sun goes down, the city’s beach fronts, terraces and a few other public and private spaces play host to a small group of fire and light spinners, displaying a dramatic show of bravado and balance with fire and lights. A mix of martial art, dance, sports and meditation, this unconventional form of art, called Poi spinning, originated among the Maori tribe in New Zealand.
Maulesh Thaker, founder of MadPoi, an academy that trains people to master Poi, says it is an adventurous and exhilarating art form that is gradually making its way to the city. In Poi, a weight is suspended from a flexible material and swung in circular motion.
Thaker says, “We start with soft equipment and then shift to ribbons, LED and then fire, which are spun with great precision and talent. It’s not simply a leisure activity — it improves balance, strength, agility, dexterity and stamina. For us, Poi is meditation. It transports us to a different world and is a perfect workout to keep the body and mind fit.”
Thaker and his team teach Poi spinning every alternate weekends in several parts of the city. Every training session is followed by a performance.
“It takes years to master the art. After a day’s training, we put up a small open show, either at Carter Road, Marine Drive or at an open amphitheatre or some terrace, between 7pm and 9pm.” While the experts in the form showcase the skills as part of stage performances in the city and around the world, they feel the impromptu performances in the streets at night are always a delight.
Aditya Das, a choreographer who has been training in this form, calls it a challenging yet fulfilling exercise. “We perform different moves as we move forward in our training. We even jump and juggle while spinning. It’s a visual delight, therefore the training doesn’t end without us flaunting it in front of a crowd. Besides, it is a great way to distress and rejuvenate and enhances body-mind coordination,” he says.
The group takes precautions of wearing cotton clothes, keeping safety equipment and not twirl in windy areas, etc.
Thaker adds, “The community of Poi spinners is not very big in the city. Besides, because of safety issues, there is a limit to our public performances. However, we have about 20 to 30 people that we train on an average in a session. Our impromptu performances in the night after the sessions are quite a spectacle, with the crowd mesmerised and in awe, watching us spinning, glowing and all fired up.”