Utilizing the Free Hand in Hoopdance
Often when we hoopdance, one hand is busy but the other hand is free. This is never more prominent than with lifts. One hand is doing the lifting and the other hand is just hanging there. We’ve talked about using the hands to do pretty hand and armwork. This idea holds even if it applies to only one hand while the other hand is working.
Here is a list of some of the moves that leave one hand free while the other is occupied:
- Lifts from the front
- Lifts from the back
- Hand hooping to the front, side, back, above and below
- One handed isolations
- Stalls on one hand while sustained spinning
- Freezes where the hoop is in one hand and being held in a frozen position.
There are lots more also. These are just the ones I can think of now.
What happens with the free arm if we’re not paying attention is that we usually revert to either the chicken wing or the t-rex arm. So here’s a strategy for learning to do something different. Once you’ve gotten the move down that you’re trying to do, gently place your attention on your free arm. Commit to make it lay flat and long against your side with the fingertips against your leg (especially during lifts) or in some other position that is stationary, still and striking. Practice this and practice this until it becomes second nature. Commit it to muscle memory. Then that will become your set position. From there, you can practice reaching up or out, utilizing the hands or fingers, making gestures… You have lots of options. But first you must establish a set position so that when you forget, you’re still in a pretty posture.
Mostly likely the arm that will give you trouble is your non-dominant one. I see a lot of videos where people do pretty moves with their right hand and arm when it is free but not with their left. So practice that one first. Whichever arm is your non-dominant one and most likely to remain bent and forgotten, commit to practice creating a set position for it and then to doing pretty hand and arm moves with it.
Some other pretty arm moves you can do with your free arm include:
- pointing the index finger so that the arm is straight to the side or pointing in front of you or doing a sweep from right to left like they do in the musical Grease to the song Greased Lightning.
- reach to the sky and do jazz hands
- open to the Bird of Paradise hand (which you can do up, down, out to the side or to the front)
- close to the “deer” mudra from our Indian Classical dance moves
- do a snake arm from our belly dance moves
- jazz hands!
- do one or more inside or outside circles with either or both the arm, hand and/or fingers
- practice “flicking boogers” ( – tuck the back of the hand in the small of the back (or as far around as you can reach)
- leave the arm along the length of the body and then lift it skyward from either the elbow, wrist, or shoulder like a bird taking flight
- place the hand behind the head
- trace the free hand along the moving arm
- punch out, up or down
- place the balled fist on the hip or lower ribs (like when we pick apples and place them in the basket)
- screw in a light bulb
- thumb to the heart and then open the arm in a line, either up, forward, to the side, catty-cornered, or even behind you
- blow kisses
- fan yourself
- a shoo!
- lick your index finger and then touch your fanny and make a sizzle!
- a slap on the fanny can also be fun
- hold your nose and pretend you’re going under water (this is a move from the Swim, a dance from the 60′s)
- the Shaka (or the gesture they always do in Hawaii)
- cover your eyes (and peek through, or not. This is especially pretty in profile)
- do a mudra
- slap the back of your wrist to your forehead like an actress in a soap opera
- drag your fingers along your body (you may follow this with opening the arm but you don’t have to)
- any gesture from sign langugage (My favorite is the “I Love You” gesture, which deaf and hard of hearing people do freely with everyone. It has the index, pinky and thumb extended and the other two fingers folded to the palm which represents the “I” – the pinky, the “L” for love – the index and thumb, and the “Y” for you – the thumb and pinky open. They often wave while doing this but it is not required.
The possibilties are endless. Watch So You Think You Can Dance and you’ll see many, many inspiring uses for one or both arms. Glee is also great for inspiration. The first thing though is to commit to use it!!! Then create a set position that you return to every time because it is second nature. Then build on that with other beautiful, striking or playful movements.
Picture me giving you a thumbs up now. I am and it’s a fun hand gesture also!