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Poi Oh Poi 

Karen Macklin takes the temperature of a growing, meditative, and fiery dance form known as poi.

Wednesday, Nov 3 2004
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Page 4 of 4

"I was an angry, negative, bitter, blame kind of person," she says about her old self. "I was choiceless, that's what it was. The biggest shift in my life was learning I had choices."

These days, poi is the focus of Isaacs' attention, and she has reason to be proud. She started a booming business with an obscure art form during a recession; she's garnered two Circle of Light nominations; and now she is going to be featured in Time Off for Good Behavior: How Hardworking Women Can Take a Break and Change Their Lives, a book by Mary Lou Quinlan due out next year. Isaacs performs regularly across the Bay Area as a dancer and DJ, creates art installations for large-scale events, and has an adoring fan base in San Francisco.

All the same, Isaacs hasn't completely left her past behind. She's still a shrewd, diligent capitalist who openly admits she can't live a "starving artist" life; despite her Zen-like teaching practice, she laments that the business, while prosperous, is still not making six figures.

And she still has a serious verbal edge. If asked about dating, she's dismissive, to say the least. "I don't need a partner. I am a multifaceted individual. I see myself as a revolutionary thinker and a forerunner in who I am and how I push the world," she says. "Most people can't keep up."

And then, of course, there's the weight, which hangs on, fading ever so slowly, like a bad memory.

But what Isa Isaacs wants, really, is to transform, outwardly, into her internal representation of herself: "a sprightly, artistic, powerful, self-reliant, self-dependent, soft, generous, caring, beautiful, compassionate, wise preacher and being, representative of the best in all of us."

"It's totally superhero-ish," she admits.

We're looking at old photos of Isaacs now, of her at her heaviest, eating a massive piece of cake. At first, she seems proud of what she's overcome, then suddenly she gets body conscious again, wondering if she should be holding off on press until she's at her physical prime.

"I've been in this process of being really conscious of how I'm trying to build a personality, like a celebrity personality around myself, so that I can create the publicity necessary to propel the business forward," she says. "And my story will be even more compelling when I'm thinner."

About The Author

Karen Macklin

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