Does it count double that it’s Monday the 13th? Ugh. But there’s no time to complain; Monday means another challenge!
We all have them. We all have no idea what to do with them. Hands. They flip, they sag, they turn into claws. They get forgotten or we get self-conscious about them. What the heck to dancers do with their hands?
I have actually been to entire workshops that focus on hands and arms. It’s that difficult…and yet it seems so stupid. Our hands are probably one of the more important body parts in our daily lives. They help us do just about everything we do–make phone calls, type, cook… But they are the LAST thing we think about when we dance, and that’s just not good.
Humans are pre-programmed to watch hands. Why do you think we gesticulate so much? Why do you think politicians actually get trained on what to do with their hands while they make speeches? We watch hands. And if you flip-flop your hands like dervishes while you dance, no one will notice what lovely hip movements you are doing.
Let’s get those hands under control!
This week’s challenge is another all-level one, and this applies just as much to beginners as it does to professionals. You gotta watch those hands.
Video yourself dancing to whatever it is you are working on right now. Whether it’s a simple class combo to a full choreography, record it. Now watch the recording. What are your hands doing? Are they limp rags? Do they flip and flop all over the place? Do they look too stiff?
Belly dance is lucky in that there is no “right way” to position our hands. We can go ballet with it, or we can be a little more relaxed about it. But one thing is true: they have to look nice. There should be energy in the fingers, but they shouldn’t be stiff. They should move smoothly, but not too much or they distract. If you’re not sure how your hands should look, ask your teacher.
Now, get to work on improving those hands this week. Be aware of them when you dance. If you know your combo/choreo/whatever really well, then concentrate on your hands instead of what the rest of you is doing. Keep your video in mind. Practice, practice, practice. Keep those hands still, and make sure they look nice. Pause once and awhile in your dance and check in. What do your hands look like? How do they feel? Reset them, and notice how they feel now. The more you practice with your hands in the right position, the more likely you are to go back to that when you are thinking hard about the rest of your body.
Here’s something I did, though I don’t necessarily recommend it. My hands were so bad that I taped them in place with black electrical tape. Yep, tape. I wrapped a bunch around my wrist, and then around my hand, criss-crossing over the palm. Whenever I bent my hand, the tape pulled on my skin and I was able to notice just how much my hands moved. It really helped improve, but it is a little extreme.
Let’s all dance with pretty hands!