Dr Kate Riegle van West

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Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy


Kate Riegle van West is an interdisciplinary artist interested in the health benefits of poi (a ball on the end of a cord swung in circular patterns around the body). She has studied poi in a variety of ways over the past decade, such as opening a flow arts center in Chicago, creating a musical instrument rooted in poi during her MFA, and giving a TED talk about poi. She is currently conducting PhD research on the effects of poi on physical, cognitive, and emotional health in older adults. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2011 with an M.F.A in Interdisciplinary Art and Media, and obtained her B.S. in Arts Technology from Illinois State University in 2007. 


Research | Current

As our lifespan lengthens and our ageing population rapidly grows, quality of life in our latter years is of utmost concern. This research aims to investigate the effects of poi, a simple and novel intervention, on physical, cognitive, and emotional health in healthy older adults. It is the first study to systematically investigate the effects of poi on health. To learn more about this research, please visit spinpoi.com.


Teaching | Current


  • DANCE 351: Developing brain and body through circus
    Focusing on coordination, memory, creative problem solving, musicality, strength and flexibility through ground based circus arts.
  • DANCE 314, Dance and Technology


Future Leader Award, The Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Researcher Forum. 2017.

Three Minute Thesis 1st place winner. International U21 competition. 2016.

Three Minute Thesis 1st place winner. University of Auckland competition. 2016.

Areas of expertise

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Riegle-Van West, K. (2016). The Effects of International Poi and Tai Chi on Physical and Cognitive Function in Healthy Older Adults. Paper presented at 9th World Congress on Active Ageing, Melbourne, Australia. 28 June - 1 July 2016. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/31355
  • Riegle-Van West, K. (2011). The Orbitar Columbia College Chicago. Columbia College Chicago. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/26178
  • Riegle-Van West, K. (2011). The Orbitar. Journal of the New Media Caucus, 7 (2). Related URL.

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 515
New Zealand

Social links

Web links