A small-built wide-eyed man sporting a sleeveless t-shirt with kitschy prints has been attracting curious onlookers at the Walker’s Club in K K Nagar, over the past three days. It’s nothing to do with his appearance but the activity he engages in, every evening — 25-year-old T Rooban is a poi artiste. “Poi is a performance art that’s lesser known in this part of the country, but quite popular in places like Goa. I learnt poi at Goa from a hula hooper last March,” says Rooban, a techie working in Bengaluru. The Madurai boy is in town for vacations and found the Walker’s Club suitable for doing poi.
Poi may look simple but involves a lot of energy, skill and practice. It’s more like juggling where the performer swings two or more tethered objects in a geometrical or circular motion and the art is said to have originated from the Maori culture in New Zealand. “It’s also a dance form and can be done with simply two balls or weights tied to a pair of strings or threads. I also do it with colourful clothes like stoles or sometimes LED lights so that it glows in the dark and creates psychedelic patterns when swung in a repeated rhythmic movements,” explains Rooban, who also does it with fire. “I like doing poi with some good peppy music. I am still a novice and there’s lots to learn in the art.”
“The speed with which the objects are rotated increases as one gains experience. It’s a great exercise apart from being an art form and I have gained some handsome muscles in the arm because of poi,” he says. “I derive happiness and peace from poi. I have been able to shed my inhibitions and my concentration levels have improved. It’s said that poi helps in enhancing left and right brain activities,” adds Rooban.
“Initially, my arms would ache even if I practised for 10 minutes. Sometimes, I even got muscle cramps. But now, I swing the objects continuously for 45 minutes. Over time, you tend to develop muscle memory and that’s how you master the art,” he adds. Rooban is a budding poi artiste on Instagram with over 600 followers. “I am in touch with top poi artistes on Instagram and am learning how to make a poi myself. I have started performing at my office events and on streetsides, parks and wherever I feel like. It’s an art that’s street-smart,” he says.
Follow Rooban on instagram.com/roobanmahadev