Baby Doll Hands – the Fingerwork of T-Rex Arms

December 5, 2014 Caroleeena DancehoopdanceMovementPerformance



Baby Doll Hands are the fingerwork of T-Rex Arms and Chicken Wings. They are common among both new and experienced hoopers. This is the hand pose of baby dolls that are made to hold bottles. Baby Doll Hands are slightly rounded with the thumb almost touching, or touching, the thumb. They are the contracted position that our hands naturally assume while resting. This pose is very common among the aged. As we age, our hands often become more and more claw-like, simply due to atrophy. It is the bad posture of the hand world. Guitar players and piano players, though, are often immune to this atrophy. Why? Because they stretch and exercise their hands and fingers. Finger stretches and fingerwork go a long way toward keeping our hands supple and mobile our whole lives long and they also look beautiful in our dances.*

The first step to ridding oneself of Baby Doll Hands is to notice you have them. Once you have this awareness, you can simply substitute another finger position and suddenly your fingers and hands look alive and intentional. We can choose from two groups of fingerwork — finger poses or finger movements.

There are hundreds of finger poses but all of them build off of three set positions: The fist, the blade (fingers and thumb together), or splayed fingers. These set positions are apparent in both dance and martial arts.

Fists: Fist

A fist is when you close your hands into a ball. You can make a fist where the hole is to the top, like you’re holding a candlestick, or where the hole is to the side so that the back of the hand faces the sky. Fists look strongest and create the longest line when there is no bend at the wrist. However bends can be intentionally used, such as making the “strong man” pose where one shows muscles.

Blade Hands: Blade Hands

A blade is when your fingers look like they are glued together to form a point. The thumb is also glued to the hand. Keeping your fingers together so they are straight and stiff elongates the line of the hand and arm and brings energy to the fingertips. These are often used in martial arts as well as cheerleading. A blade hand most often has the thumb straight and alongside the palm but in Indian Classical Dance, dancers will bend just the tip of the thumb while keeping the rest of the hand in a blade. Blade hands are pretty as a focal point but blades also make it easier to tuck a hand into the small of the back so it lays flat.

Splayed Fingers: Splayed Fingers

Splayed Fingers are often referred to as “Jazz Hands” however this is not technically correct. Jazz Hands is when a set of splayed fingers is waved rapidly, leading with first the pinky and then the thumb and then alternating between them. Splayed Fingers themselves can be used without movement to create wonderful poses and draw attention to the hand. The fingers can be slightly splayed or splayed as far as possible. These hands are beautiful with the palm showing but they are equally beautiful with the back of the hand showing. They are also the easiest set position to add movement to. Just shake em!

Once you realize that your default fingerwork is Baby Doll Hands, you can set about cultivating a different set position. The set position itself will serve as an aspect of dance for your hoopdance but these set positions also serve as a jumping off point for finger work such as pointing fingers, forming mudras, fanning the fingers, doing finger rolls or hundreds of other variations of finger and hand poses and movements. I will revisit those in another blog soon (pulling from other blogs I’ve written in the past) as well as stretches for the hands and fingers but, for now, here is a beautiful example of fingerwork.

Fingers highlighting eyes

* Note: There are some diseases that can cause the hands to curl — diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis. Dupuytren’s Contracture, multiple sclerosis, as well as injury and others. If you find you cannot stop your hands from curling or clenching or that this happens in your sleep and causes you discomfort, consider bringing it to the attention of your physician. It could be an indicator of something that needs to be checked out. Many of these things can also be treated.

** Note: Be aware of the free hand! Often, even if we have good handwork, when one hand is on the hoop, the other hand tends to fall into our default finger pose…and often that pose is baby doll hands.


baby doll handscaroleeenadance handsdoll handsfingerworkhandwork

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