Poi Dancing: The Beginner Series

Learn and master the fundamentals of poi with Nick Woolsey
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  • Lectures 180
  • Length 13 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 9/2014 English

Course Description

Join renowned poi-teacher Nick Woolsey for a 12-section poi course! This is your chance to learn and master all the basic moves and transitions of poi!

Each section of the course will include 12-20 videos, guiding you through Nick's proven step-by-step system of learning poi. The lessons will cover all the basic moves of poi such as weaves, windmills, butterfly patterns, buzzsaws, corkscrews, and fountains, along with lots of tips on how to master them to build turns, sequences, and transitions.

For those of you who already know some moves, this course is a great way to deepen your control of planes, rhythm, and freedom of movement, and to discover and learn all the moves missing from your poi movement vocabulary.

What are the requirements?

  • For this course you will need a set of soft practice poi, plus a way to watch the videos where you have enough space to follow the lessons

What am I going to get from this course?

  • play freely and confidently with all the basic moves of poi spinning

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is for complete beginners, or those who know some of the basic moves, but still can't dance freely with poi.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Essential Information!
Welcome to the Poi Spinning Beginner Series!

There are several kinds of poi, which you can either make or buy. Let's look at some options.


Poi is like any other form of exercise or dance: If you don't take proper care of yourself, there is a risk of strain or injury. In this video we go through important concepts for reducing any risk of injury. In particular we talk about the myth that stretching is the best way to avoid injury. Although stretching can be one of your tools for keeping your body healthy, studies show that warming up and using good technique are even more important!


In this video we talk about how you will pick 4 directions every time you follow the lessons, to help you understand how to follow along.

Section 2: Week/Phase ONE

You'll never not know how to spin poi again. So this is your last chance to play with poi with true "beginner's mind." Enjoy it!


It sounds funny, but it's one of the most important bits of advice you will ever hear. The sooner you get over your fear of the poi hitting you, the sooner you will stop flinching and just seeing what the poi do. This will help you to learn much faster, and to enjoy the process more.


In poi there are four primary modes in which two poi or two arms can circle together. In this video we explore the basic modes with the arms.

Same-time same-direction (often called "same-same"): Where the arms both circle in the same direction, in synch so that they are at the top and bottom of the circles together.

Split-time same-direction (often called simply "split-time"): Where the arms both circle in the same direction, but one is up while the other is down.

Same-time Opposites (often called "opposites"): Where the arms circle in opposite directions, in synch so that they are at the top and bottom of the circles together.

Split-time opposites (sometimes called "split-ops:): Where the arms circle in opposite directions, but one is at the top while the other is at the bottom of the circles.


In this lesson we begin to explore the difference between swinging the poi front to back and spinning it in a circle, forwards and backwards. This brings up the important concept of planes and tracks.


Crossing the poi side to side is the foundation of many poi moves. But there's more to it than you may realize. Let's learn how to do it well!


Crossing one poi side to side while spinning backward can sometimes be challenging to learn. But if you take the right steps, it's easy! The trick is to notice if you switch back to forward spinning ;)


I cannot stress enough how important this is! Play with this until it is completely effortless! This will be the foundation for almost everything you will learn with the basics of poi!


These are the most simple turns with two poi flying same-same (same-direction same-time)


Now we will learn a same-same turn with the poi passing down behind the shoulders, passing your back pockets


The last turn in the series is passing the poi up behind your hips as you turn from forward to backward spinning


It's possible to cross both poi at the same time. If they tangle, keep going back to using both arms, but only one poi.


You can also cross both poi while they circle split-time same-direction. It's important to relax your body and turn side-to-side with the movement of the arms and poi.

Give backward split-time crossing a try

The world can be your playground and laboratory as you learn poi. Here are some ideas on using the world for feedback.

Summary of phase ONE
Section 3: Week/phase TWO

All poi movements are an extension of your body. Here are some tips on building good habits with your posture and your ability to make poi-type movements with your arms (poi-fu).


"Poi-fu" is practicing poi-like movements with your arms, to develop good posture and body mechanics to be the foundation for poi. As we proceed through the lessons we will ultimately add poi to all the poi-fu movements. By starting with just the arms, you can lay the foundation you need to feel strong and confident with the poi. Trust me on this one: Do your poi fu!


This one feels great when it becomes smooth, and we'll add poi to it before long!


In this lesson we learn to circle our arms in opposite directions, with good symmetry and health posture technique. Don't underestimate how important this is!


This is another important foundation-level skill. If you practice this, everything else will become easier to learn.


In poi there are four primary modes in which two poi or two arms can circle together. In this video we explore the basic modes with the poi.

Same-time same-direction (often called "same-same"): Where the poi both circle in the same direction, in synch so that they are at the top and bottom of the circles together.

Split-time same-direction (often called simply "split-time"): Where the poi both circle in the same direction, but one is up while the other is down.

Same-time Opposites (often called "opposites"): Where the poi circle in opposite directions, in synch so that they are at the top and bottom of the circles together.

Split-time opposites (sometimes called "split-ops:): Where the poi circle in opposite directions, but one is at the top while the other is at the bottom of the circles.


Control of your planes (the tilt of the poi) is an essential skill for learning new movements with poi, and for making the moves you know look beautiful. In this video we play with bending the tilt of the poi to learn a new move: Split-time butterfly! Don't worry if it feels a bit floppy at first. Within a week or two it will feel natural! Just breathe and relax as you play with it!


Learning a move is one thing, making it smooth is another. Here we look at some tips for feeling confident and graceful with the same-time turns


Now that you know all the same-time turns, it's important that you practice ALL the variables of how to turn with them, otherwise you'll fall into a bad habit of only turning certain ways.


In this lesson we explore bending the planes from forward split-time on wheel planes into inwards split-time on wall plane (inwards split-time butterfly), and from spinning backward split-time on wheel planes into outwards split-time on wall plane (outwards split-time butterfly)


Here we look at the butterfly again, but this time we do it by bending the planes inwards from wheel planes. People often want to jump over the moment that this feels awkward. If you take your time, and bend the planes onto a wall plane in front of you slowly, exploring the awkward feeling part and proving to yourself that there's nothing to be afraid of, you will start to feel truly confident with this move!


Here's one of the things you need to practice to learn 3-beat weaves: Circling one poi over-and-under-and-back of the other arm. You will need to practice this until it is equally comfortable with either arm.


This is another useful lead-up for the forward 3-beat weave. With the arms crossed, keep letting the bottom arm drop back along the wheel plane to cross over the other arm. Make sure you are mostly circling along the wheel planes at your sides, not along a wall plane in front of you.


If you only practice the hardest and newest tricks that feel awkward, you may become an awkward, fretful poi spinner. Most of the poi masters spend most of their time playing with the simple moves to build true mastery. See how free you can become with one poi and that feeling will start to spill into your more complex movements.


Over this course I will often talk about using walls for feedback. Here we use the Berlin Wall as an example.

Summary of PHASE TWO
Section 4: Week/Phase THREE
Practicing poitruvian arms
Poi-fu: Turning with arms in split-time same-direction
Stall and reverse #2 - Getting smooth

Jiggies, or jiggiying, is the idea of using the side-side turning of your body to control the crossing of the poi, rather than using your arms. You can cross the poi side-to-side only using the turning of your body, without your arms helping at all. I learned the term "Jiggy" from Arashi many years ago and I liked it.

Crossing one poi front to back, over the head
Introducing Reels (Looping the same-time turns)
The forward 3-beat weave
Backward 2-beat weaves
Backward 3-beat-weave lead-ups
Split time turns in front
Controlling poi with the arms crossed
Getting cozy with the super important thumbs-inward-behind-the-back position
Exploring how to circle the hand and poi on a plane
Q&A: Developing backward split-time rhythm
Summary of phase THREE
Section 5: Week/Phase FOUR
Warm Up
Practicing turning footwork
Practicing poi-fu: opposites and same direction split time
Reviewing turning in a circle: How many steps? Where's the weight?
Stall and reverse #3 - Wall plane
Practicing the reels and chase the sun
Adding poi to poitrivian
Introducing crosspoints
Backward 3-beat weave
Split-time turns behind
Threading the Needle with Butterfly
Further with split-time butterfly, inward and outward
Tips on not getting dizzy
When to whirl and when to shuffle
Q&A: Answering a great question about crosspoints
Summary of phase FOUR
Section 6: Week/Phase FIVE
Turning through a full circle, arms split-time same direction on a wall plane
Poi-fu: Introducing split-time opposites
Learning the split-time reels
Exploring the 3-beat weave
following the weaves with your body
Butterfly over the head
Getting started with Mexican Wave
Getting into windmill from poi passing the toes
Learning corkscrew
Corkscrew and windmill... are basically the same thing!
Turning between the weaves from hanging poi (if the last approach didn't work)
Turning between the weaves... by hugging little teddy bears
Turning between the weaves: Troubleshooting a common mistake
Q&A: More on keeping poi same-time
Q&A: Keeping planes controlled while turning with reels
Summary of phase FIVE
Section 7: Week/Phase SIX
Epic poi-fu warmup and exploration of the modes
Pirouette progression continued
Poi-fu: Split time opposites: getting ready to turn (the secret!)
Keep working on reverse right, reverse left patterns
Turning with poitruvian poi
More in-depth video for learning split-time hip reels
Split time hip reels, counterclockwise!
Playing with reels, chase the sun, and extensions
Further with Mexican Wave
Further with thread the needle
Slowing down and beautifying corkscrew

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Instructor Biography

Nick Woolsey is a poi-dance pioneer and a cult-celebrity within the global poi-dancing community. Thousands of people have attended Nick's poi workshops and retreats, and tens of thousands more have learned from his online videos. He is now collaborating with professional dancers and circus artists in Vancouver, BC, to bring a new level of online video resources to the poi and flow arts community.

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