Weird Science :: Written Posts

How I flew with my fire poi in my carry-on luggage

Last week I flew down to Florida for a couple days and had the opportunity to test out a theory I've held for a long time about travel with fire tools. Years ago when I was flying home from Burning Man, a pair of my fire staves was confiscated from me as I boarded my flight at the Reno airport to come home. I'd checked in late and as such, my bag was being manually taken to the plane rather than going through the usual steps and by the time it arrived at the aircraft, they'd taken the staves off of it.

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The Linear Extension Companion

A couple months ago I was sent a request for more intermediate-level tutorials via Facebook and I had kind of mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I knew I could provide the content, but I also knew that I considered intermediate spinning to have slightly different qualities than the person requesting the tutorials may have had in mind. To me, intermediates begin seeing poi as being composed of smaller and more fundamental pieces of movement.

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The Introverted Performer

Everybody knows a performer when they see one: performers are loud and outgoing, friendly and confident. They reach right out to you and draw you into their world, promising a good time with someone who makes you feel totally at ease. I’ve never done a poll, but I’d suspect that the ideal performer to most of us is somebody that fits the rough definition Carl Jung laid out in the 1920s of an extrovert: a person who is sociable, takes charge, is outgoing, and is at their best in a crowd of people.

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"I can't do that."

This is one of those phrases that generates within me very conflicting emotions when I hear it...on my less proud days, it makes me annoyed. It’s a wall they’ve imposed between themselves and whatever they’re seeing and there’s a part of me that grits my teeth and wants to tell them, “well...sure you can’t, as long as that’s your attitude.” Which is a pat response to an even more pat statement and seldom very constructive.

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A timing and direction based approach to classifying Hybrids

This is partially inspired by Pierre Baudin's recently published matrix of hybrid patterns and partially a byproduct of revisiting old work. Back in the spring as I attempted to cobble together a hybrid Gina McGrath posed as a challenge to many of us at FLAME Festival I found that my perception of how polyrhythm hybrids could be composed was only a third of the story at best.

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Drex's Planar Graph Conjecture for Poi

Ever heard of a mathematician by name of Leonhard Euler? I recently did a video on his Seven Bridges of Köenigsburg solution and its applications to how we create poi paths...well, I've found another use for Euler's work, most notably his Polyhedron Formula. The Cliff's Notes are that Euler noticed upon studying the Platonic Solids that if you counted the number of vertices each of these polyhedra had, subtracted the total number of edges between vertices, and added back the total number of polygonal faces and the number is invariably 2. You can see an outline of the concept below:

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5 Poi Spinners to Watch in 2013

While I was collecting votes for the Top 10 Poi Spinners of 2012 effort, it quickly dawned on me that some of the most interesting people I was discovering as part of that process were not going to make the top 10, so I thought it appropriate to highlight some of my favorites who seem poised on the edge of breaking into the mainstream in 2012 and possibly climbing the list by the end of the year if they make good on the promise they’ve shown in the past year. In no particular order, here are 5 spinners that are likely to be making big contributions to the world of poi in 2013:

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The Top 10 Poi Spinners of 2012

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Does handedness influence dominant direction of spin?

laterality /lat·er·al·i·ty/ (lat″er-al´ĭ-te) a tendency to use preferentially the organs (hand, foot, ear, eye) of the same side in voluntary motor acts.

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Awesome Poi Compilation Video

The Playpoi website tipped me off on this--a ten minute compilation of some of the greatest and most influential performers and videos in the history of our art. Give it a look-see for a smattering of the best our art has to offer :)

(for added fun, click on the Closed Caption link in the bottom bar to get the name of each video and the artist in it as it pops up)

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My poi are not a tool

My poi are not a tool. They are not a prop. They are not an artificial entity upon which I imbue meaning and metaphor. My poi are not another person or a cell phone. My poi are not a belt or a cup of coffee. My poi are an extension of me. My poi are a part of me. They are a living, breathing extension of my hopes, dreams, and ambitions. They feel my sadness and joy, my aches and pains. They are as much a part of me as my hands, fingers, and eyes. They are an extension of my expression. They emote with my pursed lips. They leap for joy with my springy legs. My poi are not an other thing.

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Fall Festival Schedule!

The fall festival season is upon us! Here's all the festivals I'm confirmed to be attending and/or teaching at this fall:

8/3-5: Spark Fire and Flow Retreat, Chillicothe, IL
8/17-20: August Wildfire, Ashford, CT
8/27-9/3: Burning Man, Gerlach, NV
9/4-6: Lake Tahoe Flow Arts Festival, Kings Beach, CA

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Spring Festival Schedule

The festival season is about to begin! Here's my schedule as it currently stands--check and see if I'm coming to your neck of the woods :)

April 13-15: FLAME Festival - Atlanta, GA
April 27-29: IgNight Festival - Los Angeles, CA
May 11-13: Kinetic Fire Festival - College Corner, OH
May 18-20: Spring Wildfire - Ashford, CT

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10 Commandments for Tech Poi Spinners

I got inspired to write this today...hopefully you all don't think it's too preachy of me. These are the ideas that inform my own approach to spinning and I think they bear sharing:

1. Learn at least a little bit of everything, even if you think it's silly. Especially if you think it's silly. I can just about guarantee that the technique you think looks sloppy and awful today will produce something in a few months that looks like magic to you and you'll have to go back and learn the basics anyway.

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Why I spin

 There is something very unique about life.

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Winter 2012 Workshop Tour!

Took at little while to finalize all the details, but I'm proud to announce my winter 2012 poi workshop tour! In the next three months I'll be visiting, Boston, Springfield (Missouri, not Illinois), and Atlanta!

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The Foreways Project

This past weekend I had the great fortune of collaborating on what I think is one of my favorite projects of the year. I wanted to throw out a little postmortem on the project for folks who may want to understand how it came about and why four tech spinners got together for the utterly insane goal of creating three and a half minutes of choreography in 10 hours over two nights in New York City.

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DrexFactor returns to NYC!

I'll be returning to New York this weekend and will be teaching a new workshop entitled "Exploring Tech Part II" while I'm in town.

This class will be on additional 3D concepts such as plane bending, advanced weaves, and a little bit of toroid flowers. Basically, all the 3D stuff we didn't get to the last time I was in town ;)

Details for the event are below--I hope to see some new and familiar faces this weekend!

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For Love of Teaching

There's a question that's been dogging my mind a lot lately when it comes to spinning and more specifically spinning for a living. It's a very simple question that's disarming at first but can lead to a good amount of navel-gazing to answer: why am I doing this? What is it about spinning that makes me want to do it to the exclusion of having a stable day job and the financial security I enjoyed up until so recently? I think I got part of my answer last night.

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Who's more engaged? A Facebook and Google+ case study

Seen this article by Farhad Manjoo? It was recently published on Slate and it alleges that Google+ is already on its way out. I was skeptical for a number of reasons and then realized I actually had the data at hand to prove G+ audiences are more engaged than Facebook audiences--by a lot!

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New York Poi Workshop November 12

I'm excited! I'm teaching my first workshop in New York City on November 12 in Manhattan.

I'll be teaching "Exploring Tech"-- a 2-hour workshop on plane-shifting, toroid flowers, and hybrid families that's designed to take spinners on a journey through popular current techniques all the way through to cutting edge ideas to inspire and challenge!

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Charlie's QFT instruction videos--now easier to watch!

So...roll call, how many of us interested in QFT have ever bothered to watch Charlie's videos on the topic all the way through? The one on notation clocks in at an astounding 45 minutes and I'll confess that even though I've been working on the notation system with him for nearly a year, I've never watched the video all the way through. 45 minutes was just too long a commitment to make for something that didn't showcase any spinning and was all theory and instruction.

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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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A special message from Drex

A personal request to my viewers: I want to be out teaching more and I need y'alls help to make it happen. Here's how:

Like my page on Facebook so I can tell you when I come to your town:
http://www.facebook.com/drexfactorpoi

Request that I come to your city either on my website of my Eventful page:
http://www.drexfactor.com
http://www.eventful.com/DrexFactor

If you live in the DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia area, come take class from me at Contradiction Dance on Thursdays 8-9:30:
http://www.contradictiondance.com

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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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