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Ben Drexler (who calls himself "Drex" for a myriad of confusing and annoying reasons) is originally from Boulder, Colorado where he grew up and received a BA in American History from the University of Colorado. He has experimented with music, dance, comedy, and acting in his pursuit of getting responses from crowds. Sometime in late 2006 or early 2007 (he's still a little fuzzy on the details), he picked up Maori poi and began practicing at an astounding (and frankly a little insane) rate. After wandering around the East Coast for several months, he came to settle in Washington, DC where he originally worked as an IT Associate for Genocide Intervention Network. As his exploration of poi deepened, Drex began posting a regular video blog of his work with poi that has earned him a worldwide audience for both his skill in breaking down complex tricks and bizarre tendency to talk to the camera as though it were a close friend.
Since moving to DC, Drex has now embraced spinning and teaching poi as a full-time experiment in art as vocation and will tell you how it's going when he figures that out. He has immersed himself in the world of movement arts, incorporating elements modern dance and tai chi into his ever-expanding movement vocabulary. He teaches a weekly class at Contradiction Dance in Silver Spring, MD and has taught at workshops and retreats all over the world.
When not spinning poi, Drex is working hard to learn to spin double staves and hoop, as well as devouring endless amounts of information on history, psychology, technology, politics, physics, and whatever other words he can find in the dictionary that end in -ology or -ics. He's a pain to play Trivial Pursuit with, seriously. He is deeply passionate about human rights and strives to find ways to incorporate raising awareness of the struggles of victims of genocide and human rights atrocities into his work. He has entered his second season as a performer in the Kelly Mayfield Dance Company, is the founder and artistic director of Revolutionary Motion, DC's premier glowspinning troupe, and performs regularly throughout the DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia area both with and without fire.
Drex also doesn't sleep much...and has been given to referring to himself in the third person. Whether these two phenomenon are linked is still an open question pending review.
Poi is an ancient dance art practiced among the Maori of New Zealand. In simplest form it is a pair of weighted ends (heads) connected to each hand by a pair of leashes, though materials and details of construction vary wildly from place to place and by type of poi spinning. Modern poi is a hybrid of Maori poi dance, club swinging, glowstringing, and advanced roulette geometry. It can be performed in a variety of styles with an emphasis on flow between tricks or engaging performance, technical skill, or fusion with other arts such as contact juggling. Poi is frequently performed in club settings utilizing heads filled with LEDs or in outdoor venues utilizing kevlar heads soaked with a flammable fuel as a form of fire dancing or fire spinning. It is classified along with hoop and staff as a type of object manipulation, a fusion of dance, martial arts, skill art, and juggling.
They are hollow vinyl stage balls with a hole drilled through one side to let a length of rope through. The handles are furniture feet that likewise have holes drilled through them. Ronan uses this style of poi frequently and I first came in contact with a pair through my friend Sean Stogner before deciding to build a pair myself. I have no idea if Ronan invented this style of construction or got it from someone else.
It depends on how you count. I spun my first set of poi in October of 2006 in a single lesson that went so abyssmally poorly that I didn't pick up a pair again for months afterwards. My roommate at the time came back from a Christmas vacation in Thailand with a pair for me to play with and I started to really learn how to spin when I started attending fire jams at Denver's Confluence Park in March or April of 2007 (I didn't really keep track because I didn't think it would turn out to be important to me), I usually count my start date right then.
Yes! Contact me with a request and I'll be happy to do a video on it.
Have a question not in this list? Shoot me an email and I'll do my best to get back to you soon.