Harmony and Dancing with Hands

Hands are one of the most fun and beautiful areas of our body, full of expression and personality. They symbolize all sorts of information about us: our communication (ex: handshakes for  greetings, waves, etc…), our age, our experiences, our stresses and tranquility, our health and more. In dancing I learned to use my hands to tell stories, to express, but I also learned to not over-use them or in other words, use them with purpose. Sometimes we keep them still so another area becomes the focus, or we may use the hands to embellish movements as they dance along with the other movements of the body. A great many things to think about! One thing is for sure, I learned from many masters to not to let the hands dance wildly, but to harmonize and work together.  

Harmony… that is a tough one! It's taken me years and lots of hand exercises to get to a good point where I can control my hands and not let that have them looking disastrous- and I'm still working! 

You see, my fingers are more flexible than most people's fingers. Some call it being "double-jointed," though that happens to not be the correct term. Online sources from the BBC.com say "Physicians and researchers call it joint hyper mobility or joint laxity, and it simply means that someone is able to move their joints farther than most people can." Well, the trouble is that they do this naturally on their own, and my ring finger does it more extremely than my other fingers. Therefore, when I dance and I'm totally in the zone, they stretch looking like crooked little fingers, those poor things. There's no pain, except when I go and watch that performance on video, haha!

Another harmonic obstacle I've had to get through is to not let them get comfortable with their position to where they look like there's no life. I like to teach my girls to have a good surge of energy circulating to our hands all the way through to the end of the "performance" or the class. I constantly say "wiggle your fingers, and bring them back to position." The quick release happens to have become a nice conditioning exercise. 

Those little muscles, they take much of our brain power, I know! I'm sure some of us have had those moments where we are dancing and we start twirling our hands, making circles with them, moving our hips and feet with no thought whatsoever as our "gypsy" side decides to emerge and take over because that music just sounds too good! Totally, I get it! And there are those moments to slow down too, to not over-load the dance with too much information, telling our stories, bit-by-bit, one piece at a time, enjoying the process. 

I sincerely love the book "Grandmother's Secrets!" It's poetic and genuine, you feel so warm when you read it! I recently picked it up again and turned to the passage where the author describes about dancing with your hands. I love how she describes how our hands are tools for giving, as she says "give as you would like to receive…." I also love the tips she offers about the positions of the fingers for Belly Dancing:

Hold your index finger slightly raised, and let the other fingers simply drop in a relaxed manner. In this way, your whole concentration will be in your forefinger and thumb. Concentrate all your energy in the forefinger, which becomes the furthermost point of the arm. This finger position is also used in prayers because it indicates unity. This is why the index finger is called the “witness finger” in Arabic. When you dance, put all the riches of your inner life, all your experiences, all your knowledge, and all your pride into your hands, and let your strength shine out into the world.
— Grandmother's Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dancing by Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi

Beautiful! I highly recommend this historic and meaningful literature. 

How about you…? Have you danced with your hands lately? Have you had any obstacles, any success, anything you would like to change or keep?

What's your story?