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Danzón: The Secrets Of The Fan (Part 2)

By Leonardo Rosen

Ladies, how many of you have had a fan? Did you gesticulate with your arm trying to get the fan to open and close, without success? Did you give up and add it to your collection of forgotten exotica? What went wrong? There are two possibilities: Either it was poorly made or you just didn’t know how to use it. Anyone can learn to manipulate a fan (abanico in Spanish).

El Danzón y Otros Ritmos Bailables con el Club de Danzón Mercerina
Sun, Nov 23, 5-8pm
Jardín Principal
Admission is free

Many times, I’ve said to a beginner student, “My dear, the fan you brought is very pretty, but it is useless for the danzón.” Why? It does not open and close easily. You need a fan of good wood and cloth that opens and closes very smoothly. The best ones for the danzón are imported from Spain.

The lady must understand that to properly open and close the fan, she does not do most of the work. Gravity does it. To open the fan, all she has to do is hold the fan at its edge with her fingers, turn her wrist so that her hand is palm-down, and let the fan fall open. When it opens completely she presses it hard with her fingers so that it “snaps”. To close the fan, she turns her wrist so that the hand is palm-up and simply lets the fan fall closed. In the danzón, the lady must be able to do this with both hands. The open fan is moved by the wrist of the danzonera (female danzón dancer) in slow, sinuous circles.

An exercise to develop good movement is to lean the arm on a table with the hand over the edge, holding the open fan. Now, using only the wrist, not the whole arm, move the fan very slowly in a circle. Do this with both hands. It is also a good anti-arthritis exercise.

The danzonera must also be able to transfer her fan from one hand to the other. This means sliding it smoothly into the receiving hand. If she does this facing her partner, she holds it at chest level. This avoids hitting him in the chin or the nose. It hurts to get cut by a fan. This is danzón, not kung-fu!

Please join us for “El Danzón y Otros Ritmos Bailables con el Club de Danzón Mercerina” in the Jardin Principal, Sunday November 23, 5pm-8pm. Admission is free. Numbers to call: 152 6385 (Educación y Cultura) or 154 5840 (Leonardo Rosen). We play the best Latin music and you dance. It’s a deal you can’t refuse! Thank you, Franco, for your great surprise performance at our event of November 9.


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