The history of modern poi LED lights can be traced back to the Maori people of New Zealand. Poi (literally ball in Maori) is a type of instrument, traditionally comprised of flax string and a ball of some sort, securely tied to the ends of the cord. This instrument was originally used in exercises that help increase the flexibility and strength of the hands and the arms, as well as to improve coordination. Maori women would use poi to keep their hand’ flexibility for weaving. Men, on the other hand, practice poi to improve their strength and coordination for battle. Before becoming an artform, poi dance was a daily practice in skill enhancement for the Maori people.
Wahine or women dancers perform poi dances by rhythmically swinging poi balls, which in turn create interesting patterns in the blur of the fast-spinning cord and weight. Throughout the years, poi dancers and handlers have swung many different kinds of weights and cords, from kii bags (carrying bags made from flax and short ropes) to moa eggs, fabrics and silk ribbons, and even fire. Traditional kii bags or kii balls used to have light stuffing inside, such as wool feathers, and cloth, which were later on replaced by plant fibers and a single piece of large stone (more commonly used by men). Performers would also use silk ribbons and fire, which help create more flow and grace to their dance movements. Today, a growing number of poi dancers use modern versions of poi balls in the form of poi LED lights—balls of light made out of LED components, which create even more interesting lines and patterns when swing around rhythmically. Poi LED lights come in a wide variety of forms, shapes, and sizes, ideal for all kinds of poi dance techniques and styles.