Picking Your First Prop!
So, you’ve decided to learn flow arts, maybe even decided it’s your jam for life! Instead of relying on using other people’s props (please don’t) the question is what prop will you invest in?
Now I don’t doubt that before too long you will have a plethora of props. Maybe even too many, they are fun to acquire and collect! But get too many props and you’ll spread yourself thin and likely not level up very quickly at any of them. So, what do you really want to experience? What do you want to spend A LOT of time with? Let’s look into the options when picking a hula hoop or any other prop!
Choosing Poi for Beginners
For me it was poi; the poi chose me really, with my fist lesson from a group of Mexicans I met while traveling in New Zealand. (Which is where poi came from, and synchronistically, Mexico was where I first saw fire spinning). I received some sock poi from my first poi teacher in Oregon a few years after New Zealand, then a couple months later invested $40 into a set of contact poi made just for me.
But maybe your situation isn’t so fluid of an experience as it was for me. Let me tell you about a few details of the prop world for you to consider:
First, the type of hula hoop or poi you want is likely a “day prop” — that being, a prop you use during the day, and not night. Investing in a fire hoop or fire poi right away isn’t smart if you’re new; they get dirty, are often heavy, and depending on the type of fuel the wicks are soaked in, they stink. Don’t get me wrong; you want to study your favorite prop actively and should bring it along with you almost everywhere you go as you will learn to make it an extension of yourself. Fortunately, once you flow with one prop all other props begin to become more manageable.
Static Props & Dynamic Props
Props fit into two general categories: static and dynamic. Many beginners start with a static prop, or “solid prop”, such as a long staff or single hoop. They are easy to get used to moving an object around your body that doesn’t have any loose ends to hit you unexpectedly in sensitive places. Though I find if you’re making a decision for one these because it is “easy”, you may find this could stunt your flow-artistic growth; you should go with what feels enjoyably challenging and you can see yourself doing well with. Another precaution in picking a hula hoop specifically is the travel-ability. If the hoop or staff does not break down, it can be a pain to transport. This is a primary reason why I stuck with tethered props; they pack away easily.
Dynamic Props: Poi, Rope Dart & Levitation Wands
Dynamic props are props with tethers, or no tethers in the case of juggling balls/pins and devil sticks. These are arguably the most challenging to master. Some examples of dynamic tethered props are poi, rope dart, and levitation wands. These props are generally lighter and usually take a little longer to learn how to manipulate well, though once you do, it’s wonderfully impressive. There are times when people think my tethers are solid sticks because of my ability to control the poi balls so well. These are my recommendation not just because it’s what I teach and perform primarily. And the challenge of mastering them will help to master all the other types of props. Let’s not forget how easy they are to travel with (I carry two sets of contact poi and a glow dart in my small backpack all the time).
Static Props: Hula Hoops & Short Staffs
Then there’s fans, double hoops and short staffs. Technically these are all static props since they are solid objects, but they are small, easily toss-able, and you have one in each hand, so they have the ability to also be dynamic. These are arguably the most challenging props all around as you have multiple objects to keep track of, they don’t always pack away easily, and you’ll be learning right away how to use both hands separately and even all your fingers! But don’t let me discourage you! Whatever your heart desires is correct for you (kind of like Harry Potter’s wand; far be it from me to tell you to not take Voldemort’s twin)!
There are many other props to choose from including sword, double swords, palm torches, S staff (buugeng), puppy hammer, nun-chucks, and even the stunning fire star!
Whatever you choose, make sure that you feel an inner “YES”, before you go for it. Truly, do this with everything in your life!
Happy flowing flowmies,
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