Two pairs of illuminated, colorful orbs known as “poi” glide fluidly through the air in Elson Courtyard, delicate streaks of light twirling. Natalie Shen ’20 and Hannah Chen ’20 coax the spheres to a stop as the melody slowly twinkles to an end; then suddenly, the beat drops and the two pairs of orbs flash, intertwining as Shen and Chen fling their poi around each other.
Last Friday, Photon, Andover’s poi performance club, hosted a “Glow Show” which showcased both solo and group choreographies. Poi is a performance art involving glowing orbs on tethered onto strings, flung around in intricate patterns. One of the featured performances was a duet by Shen and Chen. According to Shen, they wanted to characterize their relationship in their piece.
“Hannah [and I] wanted to do something where it was really collaborative. I think we’re a little bit stronger on our own sometimes, but our song was more slow and soft and it was definitely an interaction between the two of us, so we really focused on things that we could only do with the two of us together,” said Shen.
One of the many themes that Photon aimed to portray in the show was “nostalgia.” According to Michelle Zhao ’19, co-head of Photon, she wanted to pay tribute to the very first members of the club. In the show, one of the background music played was “Halloween,” used in Photon’s 2014 Grasshopper performance.
“I knew a few of the founding members of Photon, so I’m kind of the bridge between the old generation and the new generation of Photon. I wanted to keep the tradition going and introduce the new members to the older traditions, but also make sure everyone brought their own unique take to the club,” said Zhao.
Aside from performances by more experienced Photon members, “Glow Show” also featured a solo piece by newer member Emily Huang ’21. During her performance, Huang drifted towards the center of the space, the light of her poi sputtering on as cheers rose from the audience. Background music accompanied her as the spheres spun and flew around her, painting circular rainbows.
Even as a new member of Photon, Huang’s performance was self-choreographed and incorporated many challenging techniques. According to audience member and friend Somin Virmani ’22, Huang’s piece did not fail to impress him.
“I myself am a choreographer, and it is a lot of work and it takes a lot of time. I can relate to that feeling of success when everything comes together, and [Emily] was really successful in her performance. I know Emily devotes a lot of hard work into everything she does, so I’m not surprised that it was super awesome and super well-done,” said Virmani.
According to Shen, the show had gone better than expected, despite a few minor errors. Whenever a performer stumbled, audience members would encourage and cheer for them.
“I think our members stumbled a lot. I definitely saw them a little more nervous but I think the crowd really hyped us up. So I think there’s this energy that we didn’t have in practice that we got from the crowd,” said Shen.