Many people ask me how you can incorporate the use of flags into a dance without just simply twirling them. The simple answer is that you consider it as part of your body! I’m going to unpack some of what I mean by this.
To begin with let’s talk about how you hold your flag and some simple movements you can do, to start to familiarise yourself with dancing with it.
Flags (or banners) essentially consist of some form of rod and a piece of material. The exact make up of these two, is dependent upon your preference. I teach using dowelling as the rod and a rectangular piece of material, as I believe these offer a great foundation for beginners.
When holding the flag, the ideal placement is thumb and index finger sandwiched around the base of the material where it is on the rod. This means that as you move the flag you can also untwist the rod if the material begins to get caught around it – I’ll be talking more about this later in the month.
Initial movements with a flag involve circles, side ways figure of eights, ripples, throws, turns, rainbows and twists. Although with these you can travel and move them, they can be quite static in comparison to ‘dancing’ with the flag.
So how can we move from a static place to incorporating fluidity with the flag?
Firstly, you need to remember two very important things when choosing to move with the flag:
The flag is an extension of your arm – when you choreograph the flag sits at the end of the arm, which means that yes one arm is longer than the other, but that doesn’t mean your usual movements are inhibited.
Moving with a flag brings Gods power – moving with a flag/ banner should not be done lightly, it’s an act of bringing Gods power down to earth in an almighty and visual way. So, know why you choose to use a flag and know that you are declaring Gods power in the process.
Secondly, choreographing without a flag first makes adapting with a flag easier. In the video below I first choreographed, movements using my body alone. I went over and over these movements until I knew them well. Once that was done, and only then I picked up a flag to use within the already choreographed moves. Some of the movements naturally transposed to using the flag with them, others needed adapting slightly.
It’s good to note that there are many ways to develop movement using the flag. But this is a way I would encourage for those that are not used to choreographing with flags. It allows dancers to see a difference between moving with and without, and the effect some changes can make in order to use the flag effectively. In addition, the more comfortable you get with moving with a flag, the more spontaneous your movements become, creating the fluidity you might see in others who are more experienced using them.
I’d love to know what ways you choreograph and develop movement with flags?