Especially in our virtual-age, where we are increasingly confronted by one-sided visual input, Poi-twirling has a lot to offer. Movement, mind, body, emotions, music, visual conception and creativity are perfectly combined.
Poi-twirling improves concentration, coordination and the sense of rhythm. It demands the use of both cerebral hemispheres. The feeling for rhythm improves and last but not least - it enriches life enormously!
In the application of poi-twirling according to the teaching and learning method "Welcome to the World of Poi" a comprehensive method is presented which trains the different senses of perception. Various functions of body and brain are combined and their interaction demanded. In short:
Movement, body, mind, emotion, music, language, creativity and visual conception are combined in an ideal form.
Above all, the regular twirling trains the feeling for the course of a movement. Fine motoric skills are required. The Poi-twirler sees the visual patterns of the swings in his/her movements. Whilst executing a move correctly the Poi-twirler must objectively analyse the position and direction of the swing required. Only so will graceful movements be attained. This is all the more obvious when the moves are performed slowly.
The planning of the moves and how they are carried out is controlled by the brain. This stimulates the capacity to concentrate and other mental skills. The blood supply to the brain is increased. Another aspect of mental functions is the visual perception of a move being carried out. The move is observed carefully and corrected when necessary. An important component of this complex physical function is the coordination between the eye and hand.
A successfully carried out move is a positive experience for the Poi student. The first Poi-moves are relatively easy to learn and as further success follows, the motivation to continue is high. The visual input of the regularly circulating movements is usually calming and presents an aesthetic picture. This theses has not been scientifically proved, however it is the conclusion I have drawn from my own experience and that of my fellow Poi-twirlers. On the other hand learning is often accompanied by frustration. A new move is not always learned immediately and then a certain amount of persistence is required. How such frustrating experiences are dealt with is another theoretical aspect to consider.
The combination of music and movement from written patterns has been only marginally looked into by educationalists and therapists. When music and movement are combined the movement is structured to the precise mathematical pattern of speed and intervals, the beat and the structure of the music. This determines that, through music, the timing of the movements is very exact. To carry out a sequence of movements in a given pattern demands a high degree of concentration. It trains the acoustical perception and its coordination with physical movement. At this point I would like to introduce a new term: The ear-manual-coordination.
Through writing a choreography to a song or music, swing patterns can be combined to produce one long continuous movement. On the other hand the precise twirling to music creates a basis for the understanding of music and how it is written. By having patterns of movement appointed to them, parts of music, especially songs, are listened to more intensively and, for example, a better feeling for the rhythm is acquired.
Many hits, folk songs, main stream music from the charts, pop, rock and the majority of modern music are written in four-four time. A big advantage of Poi-twirling in the school: "Welcome to the World of Poi" is that this system is based on a four beat rhythm: First of all, a parallel move is twirled, then the right hand is transposed half a turn followed by another parallel move and finally the left hand is transposed half a turn. The sequences of moves are equally demanding for both sides of the body. They are never one-sided which produces a harmonious, moving picture. The four beat rhythm is therefore reflected in the moves.
The movements can be defined as follows:
A parallel move corresponds optically to a crotchet. A split or transposed move is like two quavers. However, a parallel move can also have the value of a minim (half note) and a split move that of two crotchets. Changing moves and tempo in a choreography requires a high degree of sensorimotoric ability especially in relation to the acoustic and visual perception of the poi student.
During the development of the didactic concept for the learning of Poi-twirling it seemed important to give names to the individual moves. That is to say, each move has been appointed a simple picture which can be 'read' by the student. Here the combination of visual input, movement and language is very important.
In order to determine the position and movement of the swing in relation to the body more precisely, metaphors and archaic pictures have been combined with circular movements. Thus, these pictures can be used as a learning-aid to rhythmic swinging.
If, while carrying out moves, their names are said out loud in the appropriate rhythm, the sense for the above listed perception channels and the interaction of mind and body functions will be more clearly understood. Furthermore, rhythm and clear pronunciation of language are practised through the rhythmic repetition of the metaphors. The mechanics of speech are consciously developed. Combining movement and language with each other has a positive effect on the perfection of speech and movement.
The illustration of varied circular figures encourages and increases the intensity of visual perception. The optical and audio senses, the brain functions and the motoric coordination are strongly promoted and forced by the combination of music and movement
The fluent repetition of movements, combined with language or music, releases a certain creativity. Movements are fitted to the general impression of a composition. Language can be given various stress, intonation and speed patterns which are expressed in movement. The spirit is set free and creates new movement, language and rhythm models. A new diversity arises in the combination of rhythm, movement and language.