As part of our partnership tith the video platform, we are presenting part I of the dance collection HAND DANCES.

Text: Julie Charriet

Why does hand dancing make us laugh or smile and why is it generally ever-so rhythmic and melodious? Thanks to their 5 fingers, 27 bones, umpteen muscles and lifelines, hands grasp, manipulate, count, pray, caress, accompany speech and even go as far as replacing it with sign language. In the collective psyche, music is played by two, sometimes even four hands and feet dance. Yet, hands are also highly capable of calling the tune, leading the dance and using tables as a floor.

The Roll Dance – The Gold Rush – Charlie Chaplin

The Roll Dance част от Gold Rush – Charlie Chaplin

No-one can resist this dance that Charlie performs on the edge of a restaurant table with two forks and two rolls of bread. He becomes a puppet-master and a dancer at the same time, he plays on the contrast between his hands and his facial expressions. The moment the dance and the music kick off, the rolls of bread become ‘real’ characters and we, as spectators, are immediately filled with empathy. Charlie dares to play like a child and finds himself believing in his little bread roll-dancers; he takes us on a journey into his personal fantasy, into his imaginary world.

Watch the video here.

Musiques de tables – Thierry De Mey

For this creation, performed by 3 percussionists and their 6 hands playing on a table, Thierry de Mey highlights an ambience of various figures that give rise to a variety of sounds with the different ways the hands strike the table: flat-hand, backhand, hand-chop, fist-hit, finger-flick, hand-edge, fingertips, stone.

What is surprising is the contrast between the performers’ stoicism and the variation of their hands, which are incredibly precise. Here, hands become real instruments and create a dance of sounds and gestures. Musique de tables is the film of the visual and music work of the same name created in 1987 : Three percussionists, each with only a little table as an instrument. The positions of the fingers and the hands and the rhythmic patterns are codified in a repertory of original symbols employed in the score. Musique de tables sets out to explore the delicate line between music and the movement that produces sound.

Scenario, film direction and music Thierry De Mey

Watch the video here.


FOLK YOU – Collectif Up & Over it

Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding present themselves as “hand dancers”. Mind-blowing Irish dance performers, they decided to use their hands to symbolize this dance where, traditionally, only legs and feet are required.

They intend to move Irish dance away from the all-predictable, highly-formatted pigeon-hole of major galas and international championships and rediscover the pleasure, the mischievousness and quintessence of the original rhythm. This traditional dance, which migrated to the United States in the suitcases of thousands of Irish women and men, played a great role in music-hall and musical comedy dances which developed throughout the 20th century, in particular tap dancing.

Watch the video here.

KISS & CRY – Michèle Anne De Mey & Jaco Van Dormael

An entire show performed by hands, accompanied by a ballet of technicians, cameras and accessories.

This was the challenge that the filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael, and the choreographer Michèle Anne de Mey, look on what they refer to it as “nanodances”. Like two children, they create and film on sight a miniature world, where the stories, which are projected directly onto a big screen, are narrated by the dancers’ hands and fingers. The hands love, dance, travel, curl up together, climb, roam around different worlds.

Watch the video here.