Poi performer and fire dancer George Woodley was one of the big arts and entertainment winners at the recently held Topian Awards ceremony, in which persons in the industry were recognised for their work. Woodley won Best Mail Poi performer and Best Spotter. A Spotter is someone who assists stilt walkers during their performances while Poi is a form of dance, where weights on the ends of tethers are swung through rhythmical patterns. It is rooted in the culture of the Maori people of New Zealand (Aotearoa), who dance with poi poi in traditional ceremonies. Woodley tells us more about himself and his life as a performer in this week’s Hot Seat.
Who is George Woodley?
I am a selfless person, who is very passionate about what I believe in and I work very hard to achieve my goals.
How would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself as a very nice and helpful guy. I always look out for other people, sometimes before I even look out for myself. I am also a man of my word and I do not like to let people down. I am also a very dependable person.
I attended Oranje primary school in Philipsburg. I then attended Sundial for the first two years of my secondary education and was then transferred to Milton Peters College (MPC) where I studied electrical engineering. I completed two years in the PBL stream and received my first diploma, then completed an extra year in the PKL stream and got my second diploma. I studied Electrical Engineering because I love physics. The minute I began the classes, I knew this was for me.
How did you end up being a Poi performer and fire dancer?
Almost a year ago, Funtopia introduced fire dancing to the list of entertainment it offers and I signed up for it. Before you start with the fire, you must practice Poi dancing. I rapidly advanced in it and eventually began to use the fire and became the first fire dancer in Funtopia and I really liked it very much. I eventually learned how to blow fire because it was needed in this field and I became very good at it. I am currently the only fire dancer at Funtopia. Poi dancing is a type of art called flow arts, which is basically spinning two items at the end of each string and you make circular motions. It can be done in different ways, such as with LED lights and with fire.
What inspired you and what is it that you like about this field?
My instructor inspired me because she would encourage me to learn as much as I can. Just by watching her spin and blow fire, it was really amusing so I also wanted to express such talent and amaze people with my skills. I also like the fact that there is always something new to learn and there is always room for improvement. I just enjoy everything there is about it.
What kind of poi performer are you?
I am a very amusing Poi performer to watch because I always make sure I mesmerize my crowd during my performances.
What differentiates you from other poi performers and artistes?
I always focus on making myself better as I execute my performance and I can adapt to any environment that I have to perform in.
How and where did you develop your skills?
I developed my skills in Funtopia constantly practicing with my Poi instructor and even practicing on my own at home and watching videos online.
Where have you performed in the past?
I have performed many times all over the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin, also in Dominica, St. Eustatius, Saba and Anguilla.
How does it feel to win the Topian Award?
It’s an amazing feeling inside when your name gets called and you go up for that award and you are recognised for your hard work and dedication.
What do you think gave you the edge over other nominees?
My self-confidence during my performances; I always give 110% when I am performing.
Have you ever received any other awards in this field?
I won the TelCell Breakthrough competition in October last year.
Aside from performing, what is your career ambition?
I would like to obtain my Master’s Degree in electrical engineering.
What is your advice to other youths who also want to learn about poi performance?
My advice to them is that they should not be scared to learn and they should always do their best. Be patient and you will learn everything you need to learn in order to master this skill.
What are your future goals?
To go and study abroad so that in the future I may come back to St. Maarten and help make a positive change.
My only hobby besides my performances is sports.
What is your favourite type of music?
I listen to all types of music once I like the song. I have no favourite artistes.
If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?
I would invite Albert Einstein, Steven Hawking and Nikola Tesla and I would probably cook them some Spanish food.