Aaron Stillwell, known as “Saint” in the world of poi spinning and flow arts, is one of the best poi spinners that you’ll never see. I say that because while he doesn’t hang out at the typical haunts of fire dancers, he’s spending serious time behind the scenes perfecting this craft that we so love.
I met Saint years ago, and our poi spinning paths have woven together, then apart, then together and apart again, as often happens with birds of a feather. Together we’ve performed and have been interviewed, and we have best intentions of working on future partner poi adventures. While we’re both incredibly busy (family, work, etc), we keep up with each other’s endeavors, and let me tell you, he has some cool stuff going on, as you’ll see in this Q&A that we put together for your reading pleasure.
Cherie Dawn: How did you get into flow arts and/or poi spinning?
Saint: I got into poi when I was around 11 or 12 years old. My mom allowed me to enroll in a weapons handling courses that involved sword play, staffs, and more. Some of the folks in the courses used poi as a motor skill development tool, as well as for fun. I took to spinning quite naturally and quickly. But it really became a true passion after a Scottish juggler gave a set of poi for free. I practiced constantly for a year and when I ran into the same man again he was impressed with my ability and gave me a set of cathedral fire poi on a ball chain leash. I loved them from the moment I first held them. A connection was formed that has remained strong for the seven years now that I have been spinning fire.
Cherie Dawn: If you had to pick one, would you choose glow poi or fire poi, and why?
Saint: I prefer both glow and fire poi for individual reasons, such as the beauty radiated from the colors and illusions of glow poi and the primal and natural shine of fire poi. If I had to choose, I would say fire, because there’s a mysterious essence that comes from the look, sound, and experience of wielding fire.
Cherie Dawn: Tell me a little about your audition for America’s Got Talent.
Saint: The compliment of being scouted by producers of America’s Got Talent was a humbling and memorable event in my poi spinning past. I must admit that I felt that the show is highly mainstream. It’s actually a very organized and planned-out production, which surprised me because the plot is a talent show that gives the opportunity for anyone to be a star. Sadly, it’s not as real as it appears. The filming is done in a very different way than the edited result portrays. But after all was said and done my family was proud of me for being recognized for my talent and I had a fun story to tell.
Cherie Dawn: What’s next?
Saint: I’m working on traveling to Costa Rica to participate as a special guest at the “Poi Love Camp” retreat hosted by Nick Woolsey, one of the best poi performers in the world, with whom I have worked with in developing my physical abilities in poi. The retreat is a wonderful way for people of various skill levels to advance the way they dance, handle poi, do individual tricks, and so much more. My lovely wife, Stephanie, will be attending with me, which makes the trip all the more wonderful. I also have some performances lined up in the near future, which will allow me to share my own expressions of poi. This is the best part of the whole thing. Lastly, I would like to begin teaching poi again this coming warm season. I found that in breaking down moves and techniques to my students, it grows my own understanding and relationship with my poi.
Cherie Dawn: Anything else you’d like to add?
Saint: In conclusion, one of the best things that has ever happened to me is finding poi. It feels almost like it was fate, due to the various interactions I’ve had with it throughout my life and how natural it feels to perform, teach, and learn. Poi spinning serves as a form of meditation for me and I encourage others to give this beautiful art form a chance to change their lives for the better. Including other forms of flow arts, remember there are several tools/props to perform flow with and they’re all amazing ways to express one’s self and so much more.
Many thanks to Saint for taking the time to share his background and story with all of us!
Peace, love, and fire,