The princess of Poi
CHAGUARAMAS: We come across many interesting people on our way. One of them is 20 year old Dominique Pinion from Cape Town in South Africa. Her hobby is flame spinning, or poi!
Chaguaramas, 25.10.2007
FOCUS: It seems so easy when someone who masters the art of POI, performs with it. Deep concentration and many years of practice lie behind. - I have never burnt myself, only my hair a couple of times, Dominique says, laughingly.
For those of us who don’t know what poi is, it is an ancient Maori weapon and ritual instrument. In modern times poi has been adopted by the circus- and show business, and they prefer the flaming version. Watching someone who can really use the time-old instrument, is a staggering view. Dominique Pinion is from Cape Town in South Africa, and is currently on a long sailing voyage with her parents and fiancée in the Caribbean. We were lucky to be among the spectators as she performed at Sails, a local restaurant in Chaguaramas. With great speed and ease she handled the burning poi, to the rythms of a bongo drum. A spectacular sight.
BUTTERFLY: The most beautiful figures appear on the evening sky as Dominiqye swings the POI at great speed, to great applause from the audience. Many years of practice is the clue to making this look so elegant and easy as she manages to make it appear.

# "POI" is the Maori word for "ball" on a cord.

# The POI was used, many years ago, by the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand to increase their flexibility and strength.

# Wahine (female) dancers perform the Maori POI, a dance performed with balls attached to flax strings, swung rhythmically.

# The POI dance was originally used by the Maori women for keeping their hands flexible for weaving and by the men for strength and coordination required during battle. POI are also used as a training aid for other ancient weapons like the Mere or Patu (Short club)

# Today the POI is widely used around the world by circuses and show artists as an entertainment act.

(Source: )

DOMINIQUE: Dominique Pinion is 20 years old, but already a seasoned yachtie. This in spite of the fact that she still gets seasick. - I love being on the way to somewhere, she says. Just like us!
THE EQUIPMENT: POI is a very basic instrument. Two chains with kevlar balls attached to the end. An ancient ritual weapon that has found a new use through the circus- and show business in the west.
FIREFLOWER: It is a stunning fireworks when the POI are spinning in the air in a lightning-fast dance with themselves, and always close to the performers body.
MOODY: An October evening in the Caribbean isnt much like an Octtober evening at Røst, thats for sure. Damp, moist, hot, but very moody and delightful.
PAINTING WITH FIRE: Photograpy is often referred to as painting with light. Thats exactly what you do with POI: It can be quite a challenge to catch on film, but the results can be staggering.
- How long must one practice in order to gain such good control over the poi?
- I have practiced for four or five years now. Some friends of mine back home in South Africa were doing poi, so I decided to give it a try. I have always thought it looked cool.
- Have you ever been burnt?
- No, never. Only my hair on a couple of times. They are cold flames, only the Kevlar and the kerosene inside the poi itself is burning, she explains and tells us about a friend that had her arm entangled in the hot chains the poi are attached to. The marks from that are tattooed on her arm forever. So for those of you thinking about trying this at home, practice without flames first!

Dominique has sailed since she was three years old. Where the route from Trinidad will go, she doesn’t yet know. In March the Pinions arrived in Trinidad onboard her parents boat “Springtime” and since then she and her fiancée Alex have acquired their own boat, the “Sparrow”, that was given to them free of charge as a restoration project. They spend all their free time fixing the boat, and it is now perfectly habitable and seaworthy.
- We only want to sail. See how far we can get. Now we are sorting the last few things on the boat, and then we will see what happens, Dominique says with a smile.

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