Tribal Belly Dance Hands: Lotus Hands and Floreos

In Tribal belly dance - whether ATS or tribal fusion - hands are not just quiet appendages on the end of your arms. Hands also dance!

Tribal Fusion, especially, borrows hand movements from many other dances. The most common Tribal hand movement is the floreo. A similar move is used in many folkloric dance styles but the Tribal floreo is probably closest to the flamenco hand movement, also called a floreo or filigranas, as demonstrated so beautifully in this clip:

How to do a Floreo

The best position to learn the floreo is with your arms out in front of you, elbows slightly bent. In fact, flamenco dancers practice their filigranas this way in every class as a warm-up.

Throughout the exercise, make sure your shoulders, upper arms and elbows are glued in place. They're not involved at all in these movements! If you feel the need to move at the elbow, you're doing it wrong.

It's a good idea to try floreos on one hand at a time, while you hold the elbow with your other hand, to make absolutely sure you're not cheating!

You're going to rotate your hand, making a circle with the tips of your fingers. For the outward version, start by turning your hand outwards. The front of your wrist is now facing outwards. Now fold your hand outwards - think of trying to touch the front of your wrist with your fingers. When you can't go any further, start rotating your hand down and around. When you get back to the starting position, straighten your hand again.

The inward version is the same in the other direction.

The video below gives a better explanation of how to do a floreo (at about 2:53), than I could ever do in writing. Note he is teaching the flamenco version, which alternates.  You can also try reading this explanation at Always B Dancing.

How to do Lotus Hands

Lotus Hands are one of those moves which look difficult, but they're actually quite easy. It's getting your head around it that's the problem - everyone struggles with it at first - including me! - then one day it will suddenly "click".

The first thing to do is get an elastic hair band or scrunchie and put it around your wrists, to keep them locked together (make it a big one, I don't want to cut off your circulation!).

It's very hard to explain this move in words, which is why it's so hard to teach. Basically, you're doing a figure 8 with each hand, but in opposite directions.

I think part of the problem is that watching someone else do lotus hands, it looks like the hands are moving a long way in a very complex motion. Most people are surprised when they "get" it, to find how limited the motion actually is. In fact, when I learned lotus hands I was convinced I was doing it wrong - it was only when I watched myself in the mirror that I realized I had it right. When I looked at my own hands, the movement looked like nothing - but from a distance, it looked great!

Try watching this video, focusing in on one hand at a time. You'll see the range of motion for each hand isn't really that big. Now try copying the move one hand at a time. Then put on your ponytail band and try with both hands together. Lotus hands are more usually done at shoulder height or above your head, but they're much easier to learn in front of your body, so keep them there for now.

Good luck!

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2 Responses

  1. I had another look at Youtube about those lotus hands, because I was breaking my wrists here practicing.. and a tutorial that narrows it down to 4 basic positions that are merged into one fluent one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Nn_G8OO-aY

    Now thanks to your explanation and video and the one I found on youtube -I- actually managed to learn it too; it’s a lot easier than it seems once you get the hang of it 😮 Thanks for teaching!

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