It's Day 4 of the 10-Day Dance Like You're In Class With Mercedes Home Challenge. Woo-hoo!
Mercedes has a very distinct way of moving her hands, and one thing that’s for sure is that no matter what, they ALWAYS look good. (Because she’s kind of obsessed with hands.)
So, naturally, we work our arms and hands like crazy in her class.
Today I’ll share an activity focused on hand and finger movement, but let’s start with a video of Mercedes to inspire us:
Todos los deditos.
This is what we hear Mercedes says as we practice our hand movements.
All of the fingers.
She wants us to use and be aware of all of our fingers as we rotate our hands. The fingers should be dancing too!
There is room for individuality in flamenco hand movements. All you have to do is view some clips of professional dancers on YouTube to see examples of the different ways people move their hands. Some you will like, some you won’t.
It is important to dedicate time to practicing your hand movements, to explore, to look for shapes and movements that you like, and to develop the flexibility and muscle strength necessary to rotate your hands fully.
So, for today’s challenge activity, you’ll first move the hands in isolation then focus on them within a move or combination.
An Activity for Hand Rotation
- Hold your arms out in front of you with your elbows up (and your shoulders down). Press your palms and fingers in toward your body. Engage the muscles of your forearms, and slowly twist the hands so that your fingers point down. Without dropping the elbows, continue twisting the hands until your fingers point up. Now go in the opposite direction. Press your palms and fingers away from your body. Again, slowly twist the hands so that your fingers point down. Continue twisting the hands until your fingers point up.
- Practice rotating out several times, then in several times, then switching between outward and inward rotations.
- Practice the same sequence this time fanning your fingers.
- Now, dance your move or combination (something new or the same one you’ve been using in previous challenge activities) focusing on your hands.
- Are there areas where your hands look awkward? If so, slow this part down and look carefully at what is happening with them. Perhaps you’re not rotating fully, perhaps your fingers aren’t dancing, perhaps you’re dropping your elbow… Experiment and find something that looks good. Consciously decide when you want them to rotate in and when you want them to rotate out. (Mercedes almost always rotates out. This is her choice. What will yours be?)
Here is a helpful photo tutorial of how to move the hands.
And a note...
Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in learning complicated steps and choreographies that we neglect the hands.
Hands are one of the most important aspects of flamenco dancing. Pretty please spend time working on your hands.
Take the Challenge on the Road
One thing that’s great about developing flamenco hand movement is that we can practice just about anywhere. We don’t need to be standing and dancing. Try to squeeze in some hand practice while watching TV or in the car (when you’re not driving obviously).
Te Toca (Your Turn)
Did you find a video of with some hand movements that you loved? If so, please share the link in the comments below. How did the activity go for you? Did you find places outside of your practice session to squeeze in some hand and finger practice?