Written Blog

The Talent Trap

At a recent regional burn, a friend watched me as I practiced poi one afternoon and lamented that she believed she had no natural talent for the tool. I chuckled and replied that I didn't either, which I didn't think at the time would be such a controversial position, but it lead to a very heated debate over what constituted talent and how one might be judged to have it.

My assertion then is the same as it is now: when it comes to talent there is no such thing.

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On the merits of arguing Poi frameworks

We all know this story...you're at a festival, spin jam, or on an online forum and somebody mentions a trick or concept you've played a lot with. So much so that you have a framework worked out in your head for how to understand that move and how many other moves interlock with it. You speak up and say, "x move is a type of y and here's why!" And so begins a lengthy debate over the nature of the move that can at times get heated. Each person clings to their understanding and points out the logical fallacies in the other approach.

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A Beginners' guide to Poi (QFT) Notation

If you were are the recent Kinetic Fire Festival or have spoken to either Charlie Cushing or myself face-to-face in the past six months, it's entirely possible you've heard of Charlie's Quantized Field Theory for poi and one of its applications: notation for props. We taught a class together at Kinetic in which Charlie enthusiastically explored the idea with the crowd while I, suffering from a nasty cold and laryngitis, did my best not to collapse and make everybody's day a little dreary.

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The Poi Heresies: why 3-petal antispin flowers are not triquetras

What is a triquetra?

For most of the past year, triquetra has been synonymous with three-petal antispin flowers and in some cases the hybrids that can be created by combining them with other patterns. Nick Woolsey even posted this video, explaining the concept and the term and its significance to poi spinning in general. After doing the math, however, I've come to the conclusion that what we describe as triquetras don't actually match the visual or mathematical properties of triquetras at all and that a couple of the conclusions we've reached based upon this assumption are false.

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Soft, Hard, and Mixed Transition Theory

Given that Google Wave will be shutting its doors by the end of the year, I wanted to post a document that's long been gestating on it. I wrote up my theory of hard, soft, and mixed transitions in a rough draft form months ago and had shared it with a whole mess of people whose opinion I respect for feedback and clarification.

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Notes from my class on transitions

If you came to my class on hard, soft, and mixed transitions at Fall Wildfire, I promised I'd put a digital copy of the handout on my website and I'm a man of my word. Here is both the outline in math and in practice of what constitutes these transitions as well as the "cheat sheet" that maps out the transitions between common hand path sizes and their accompanying shapes.

Class outline
Cheat sheet

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The great Kenya adventure, Part 5

It's Friday afternoon in Mombasa. I surface in the Indian Ocean just off Nyali Beach, North of the city. The weather could not be more perfect: lazy clouds hang at the edges of the horizon as an unobstructed sun shines down on a seemingly endless corridor of white sandy beach. Three British tourists attempt to learn to windsurf several yards further out to see without much luck. Next to me floats Martin, one of the first street children who started working with Will when he created the Motomoto Circus School.

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The Great Kenya Adventure, Part 4

Saturday morning: last night was a magical mystery tour with Sarakasi and James. Today it's the hamlets kids we're going to teach. Will Ruddick has been on a bus from Mombasa all night and arrives before I wake up in the morning. There is a package waiting for us at the Post Office in town--the last pieces from the United States we need for the program. Already we've gotten a 100 foot roll of 2" wide kevlar, 40 high-quality fishing swivels, and 40 quick links. The hardware goes so fast as we build, so though all the numbers seem high, we're still budgeting appropriately.

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The great Kenya Adventure, Part 3

For just over two weeks we've drilled and run new concepts. We've played with choreo and fine-tuned what we already have. I can teach until I turn blue in the face, but ultimately what will prove the mettle for any performer is a big crowd and all the crazy uncertainty it brings. It can turn shy, introverted wallflowers into dynamic giants or leave outgoing extroverts weeping in embarrassment. Ultimately, you never know entirely who you are as a performer until you hit that stage.

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The great Kenya adventure, Part 2

Every teacher knows their job is not just as simple as telling their students what to do and leaving it at that (or at least, all good teachers do). On one level you have to keep those students who are zipping ahead of the class engaged while making sure that those who just aren't getting it don't get left too far behind.

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