The A to Z's of Flamenco Dance: F is for Floreo
Floreo (floor-A-oh) in Spanish means "to flower". In Flamenco dance, floreo means handwork -- the movement a dancer makes with his or her hands while dancing. Both men and women do floreo, but it looks quite different on women than on men. Men have very strong movement of the hands with minimal movement of the fingers while women have very graceful movement of both the hands and fingers. For women, floreo and braceo (arm movement) are some of the most beautiful parts of Flamenco dance technique.
Before learning floreo, it is important that you must first have mastered braceo (see my previous article, "B is for Braceo".) because without proper braceo, your floreo will look weak at best. Imagine your arms like flower stems with flowers (your hands) on the ends. If the stems are weak and droopy the flowers, no matter how pretty, will just flop around. Only when the stems stay strong to hold up the flowers will the flowers look their best.
When I teach floreo, I teach 3 simple movements I call them hand circles; one "turning in" (half circle), one "turning out" (half circle the other way) and one "turning all way around" (full circle). Lets try some half circles:
- Place arms in proper starting position (see "B" is for Braceo).
- Keeping arms strong (like statues), not moving, with your palms facing each other.
- SLOWLY turn your HANDS ONLY so that your finger tips point to your midsection.
- Then SLOWLY continue to turn your HANDS ONLY so that your fingertips point to the floor and keep turning until the backs of your hands are facing each other (really exaggerate this part) be sure not to move your elbows!!
- This completes the "in" hand circles.
- Then reverse the process, hands go from floor to midsection to palms facing each other to complete the out hand circles.
So after practicing that 100x, you're now ready to learn the fingers.
Gentlemen have it a bit easier than ladies. Gentlemen: keep your 4 fingers, not the thumb, together (not too hard, not too soft). And continue practicing the hand circles.
Ladies: touch your thumb and middle fingertip PADS together softly, like you are holding a butterfly between your fingers.
Then turn your hands "in" as instructed above. When the backs of your hands are facing each other, open your fingers (let the butterfly go). Then touch the fingertip pads together again (catch the butterfly) and turn your hands so that the palms are facing each other.
Some instructors teach finger technique by having the student roll in the fingers one at a time (pinky, ring, middle, pointer) while turning the wrists. I have found over my years of teaching that until a student becomes proficient with the finger technique, rolling the fingers in one at a time can often look too busy (and sometimes, if not careful, even scary!). Not to mention the fact that if the thumb is not controlled properly it could result in a "thumbing a ride" gesture. I believe that less is more.
So after practicing that 100x, you're ready to add the fingers and hands to the arms.
Hand and finger movement technique is just that - technique. Don't get overly concerned about being "exact" in any of the finger movement.
Your hands will take on their own style as you practice with the technique. Your instructor should be able to let you know if you are practicing technique correctly with just a quick observation.
An important bit advice to you at this point is: The SLOWER you practice the hand and finger movement, the BETTER your floreo will be when you dance. Speed is for the feet, not the hands. Trust me on this one!