In December 2017, I moved to Norway to start a PhD in Biology. I was motivated and excited, but also scared about this big step I was going to take to move to a foreign country permanently. I left all my family and friends behind and instead of moving in with my boyfriend as we had planned back then, I moved very far away from him. However, I just did not want to miss out on this opportunity of working in the field I love and something was pushing me not to throw away this chance at making my dreams come true, just because it meant starting fresh in a new location. First, all was well, I was warmly welcomed and surrounded by an amazing team of colleagues at the university. The Norwegian landscapes were breathtakingly beautiful and I was very enchanted by the picturesque snowy mountains and the cute wooden houses. However, the happiness of being there did not last. Due to a personal tragedy, I fell into a very depressed state and I did not have anything that could help me feel better. The days were short and dark during the winter in Norway and I felt all of it slipping away right beneath my fingers. I stood in the lab like a zombie, emotionally detached from everything, overwhelmed by grief and the lack of willingness to accept what had happened. Soon I had troubles getting up in the morning, every step I took was nothing but struggle, the smile I wore on my face was fake, and the sadness was all encompassing. My boyfriend could not cope with the distance between us, so he left me with a simple phone call out of the blue, right at the moment where I needed a shoulder to cry on the most. It was all over in my opinion. There was nothing left to live for. It felt like all I had ever wanted had just been taken away in the blink of an eye. And my sanity was hanging by a thread which seemed to get thinner every day. Then something somewhat unlikely happened.
I still do not know how exactly I found a video of a fire fans performance on Youtube. I just remember that I watched it and thought that it was truly beautiful. It was this one: Life Holds a Special Kind of Magic – created by Samantha Taylor. I would watch it every evening and promise myself that one day I would be dancing just as gracefully as these women in the video. I also found a video of an LED Poi performance. Poi Dance by Lindsey Stirling – Crystallize. And I could see myself doing this in the snow in Norway, bringing some happiness to the cold winter. Within a week I had ordered LED Poi from the Home of Poi and they arrived in Norway without any problems just a very short time after that. From then on, I had something to focus on after work. I would go to the roof of the biological institute and practice there, looking at my reflection in the glass door to the roof. I would gather Poi tutorials and try to figure this out by myself. My mind was peaceful during those moments, the despair was still there deep down in my soul, but at least I could function in some way. Spring came, but my depression did not really lift even though there was sunshine, so I made plans to leave Norway for a while and luckily I was accepted for an exchange program with the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands for the fall term in 2018. Being back in more familiar surroundings helped me and Utrecht was such a beautiful place to be. I could not find any Poi classes, so I took up hooping instead. From then on, I slowly met more and more people of the Dutch flow community and soon I was at my first LED flow jam. It was such an exciting time for me, seeing how people danced so effortlessly with their props. And even though I was not very good at spinning Poi, I felt like part of the group and was even invited to spin together with the other flowmies at the GLOW lights festival in Eindhoven in front of the general public. That was the first time I showed myself with my prop to other people and I remember being so shy, always trying to hide away in some corner. I felt so vulnerable, but proud at the same time, that I was out there doing something magical, despite all my sorrow and emotional troubles. I also started djing during that time and soon was asked to play a set at one of the flow jams. My first DJ performance at an LED flow jam was really unforgettable. I felt so connected to everyone and to the music, to all the movement around me. It really kept me going, kept me wanting to improve.
In 2019, I decided to quit my Phd since I did not want to go back to Norway and leave all the magic I had just experienced in the Netherlands behind. Besides, I was so scared of falling back into a deep hole of dark emotions and never getting out of it again. The first thing I did with my newly found freedom was travel to Canada to the Leviathan Poi Retreat on Lasqueti Island with Nick Woolsey. That was the first time I ever spun fire Poi. It was the evening of the summer solstice and that remote island off British Columbia felt like paradise. We would practice and eat together during the day and then flow with our LED props all night. I remember crying when we gathered for one last group hug in the Leviathan studio to say goodbye. And Nick told us that from now on we would have to go back to our worlds and keep spreading our light there. I keep those words with me always. My DJ career also got more serious during that time and I was able to play at a music festival for the first time. I entered a very creative period of my life, meeting so many new people and suddenly being filled by somewhat limitless energy, creating new mixes every week and slowly but surely escaping from my shell that I had carried around with me all my life.
Then suddenly the pandemic hit, but luckily I had flowarts and music to keep me going. During that time I started staff spinning and fan dancing and I enjoyed having so much time for music which I streamed live weekly on my Youtube channel Fantasia Deep. In the summer of 2021, I saw that there was a flowarts gathering happening in Poland. It was the first real event since the pandemic and I was so excited to go there. It was Vojta Stolbenko’s retreat at the Palace in Gorzanów. I had not really practiced Poi in a while since I got distracted by some other props and hobbies, but I realized that Poi was still dear to my heart and that I would really like to connect with it again. Seeing professional fire artists in Poland definitely left a lasting impression on me.
Since then I regularly go to Poi retreats and flowart festivals all around Europe. I have made so many friends there, people I really enjoy spending time with. And it was a great honor that I even was part of the crew for the Ignite Flowarts Gathering in Belgium this year, organising the music and DJ schedule. I think, not even in my wildest dreams, I could have imagined all of this. From standing all alone in a laboratory, looking through a microscope, constantly wiping away my tears, to dancing with fire on a huge fire space like that of the Phoenix Fire convention or djing at a Poi retreat in a beautiful French chateau. And all of this, because I ordered a pair of Poi four and a half years ago. I really wonder whether the world of Poi spinning, music, and flowarts in general will take me and I am very excited about what the future holds. Life is still far from easy since many other challenges keep arising, but at least I believe in my strength to push through them and persevere, even when things get tough. I truly believe that flowarts are good for healing the soul and that they come into your life for a reason, so just keep spinning 😉