Talawa Technique Tutorials
These are tutorials that show some of the basic exercises and elements of the Talawa Technique. The technique is vast and multilayered. The 32 hand/arm positions, 14 foot positions, and 7 gates of the torso still form the main elements of the technique. This page is predominantly for students who have been introduced to the technique and therefore does not have full explanations. However, feedback from you is most welcome and will be used in future pedagogic applications of the Talawa Technique.
This is an introduction to the exercises that trains and drills the techniques basic 32 positions. The spider is communicative, and in choreography, there are multiple variations and alternations of these. Doing these drills gives access, alignment, coordination and helps train paths of movement and preps neuro-paths.
Basic positions with explanation and multiple view
Spider with added "Handflow" quality
In order to train rhythmicality, the sequences are often also done to various rhythmic structures. It is important to learn variation in speed, attack, timing, and rendering your interpretation on rhythm. Here you have one example of this.
Powering the movement from shoulder, elbows or wrists will give different results regarding movement quality, path, speed and relating to the "designs" that one is carving in the space around you. Here you see an example of what the wrist variation does to the movement. Most high speed african hand variations has an element of wrist to it. Using the wrist to power movement frees the shoulders and chest and makes it easier to place other movements there in contrast or in relation to the musical composition you are moving to.
Spider-Rhythmical Wrist Variation
This example combines wrist and rhythmicality. Notice the dynamics afforded by using the hips, and how this changes and curves the paths. It is also a good way to start to study the principle of "energy dictates form" rather than "form dictates energy". While doing this exercise contemplate the difference in these two approaches.
Here we are using a specific undulation we codify as "bodyflow". It allows the dancer to access the spine and gravity at the same time as using the hand positions. Notice how the technique is built in a way where you see how the undulation and the hand positions relate to each other, this is an efficient way to study how these movements relate to each other. This study acts as a template for the most harmonious combination.
Spider-Advanced level- Counterpositions
Counterpositions are when we separate the left and right sides from each other. The variation that goes through the most commonplace counterpositions is sectioned by fours. In this variation one hand is in position 4 and the other in positions 1. The one that starts in position one, will be doing 1,2,3,4 the one that starts in position four will be doing 4,3,2,1. The next section will then be 5,6,7,8 and 8,7,6,5 and it will continue like that in sections of four.
Spider-Introduction to 4 by 4 counterpositions
Spider- Counterpositions Rhythmical Variation
Upswings are particularly designed in order to train the paths of the 32 positions as they grant the dancer ownership of the space around them. The dancer is trained to be able to guide energy and flow into each of the 32 end positions and the paths between them. It is a great warm-up exercise and trains both stamina, strength and placement.
A creature that is a friend to the AIR, the LAND and to the WATER. Believed to fertilize the land it also draws out the energy from the sun by pecking at the ground. Birds are also known to migrate, have an impeccable sense of direction and balance.
The foot positions are therefore linked to the principle of the bird. Filling every space it goes with possibility, drawing from the ground and giving back at the same time. The bird moves adapts and makes its presence known.
This is an introduction to the 14 basic positions of the feet. These also deal with various uses of weight. Stepping into or out of a position is radically different weightwise. While you do this study how gravity flows through your body. These accommodate various undulations, wines, grooves, transitions, and spirals. Each position affects the body's grounding differently.
Right foot moves. Pay special attention to how the movement is hip initiated. This gives you grounding, magnetism to the floor and that unique movement quality that so many African Aesthetic dances are infused with.
Left foot moves. Pay special attention to how the movement is hip initiated. This gives you grounding, magnetism to the floor and that unique movement quality that so many African Aesthetic dances are infused with.
Intermediate level alternated between left and right foot, together with hip initiated movement this causes you to have to adjust how you send the floor through your body. Often this happens in neck-breaking speeds in choreography and improvisation. Make sure to do this with various speed. While you do this study how gravity flows through your body. These accommodate various undulations, wines, grooves, transitions, and spirals. Each position affects the body's grounding differently.
Bird-Alternating Right Foot Start
Right foot moves first (starting from position 1). Pay special attention to how the movement is hip initiated. This gives you grounding, magnetism to the floor and that unique movement quality that so many African Aesthetic dances are infused with.
Bird-Alternating Left foot start
Left foot moves first (starting from position 1). Pay special attention to how the movement is hip initiated. This gives you grounding, magnetism to the floor and that unique movement quality that so many African Aesthetic dances are infused with.
The Flamingo is an exercise that focuses especially on balance and foot placement where you have to balance on one foot. It has the regular bird positions up until position 11 and then goes into a special alteration. Pay close attention to ankle and knee and how these are used in this variation.
These exercises combine alternating as well as using the various movements to shift direction in the room as well as moving across the floor. It teaches you which direction the movement turns you and how you shift and travel in the room. This helps you choose which foot to do it with according to which result you want. It also helps you anticipate spacing.
Bird-Alternating Across floor, Right then Left foot variation
Pay attention to paths, alterations. The 7 position repeats twice and the pulsing doubles up from position 7 as well. This has to do with the following exercise where the 32 arm positions are added on top of the movement.
Bird-Alternating across floor with Spider
Here the Bird and Spider combinations are combined. It is in the ability to combine exercises that the true potential of the Talawa Technique is revealed. Bear in mind that these are just exercises and not actual dancing or movement. Most African Aesthetic dance carries the illusion of more freedom and less "form" than what you see here. However, you will notice a considerable difference in execution if these drills are allowed to prepare your body for africanist movement.
The spine has 7 levels of isolation in the Talawa Technique. This exercise gives you contact with these 7 levels and allows you to access these in various ways. Often the size of an isolation, spiral or circle but rather which isolation is accessed.
Standing Pelvic Rocks trains the coordination between hips and feet. It strengthens the hip and trains the body to move the hips from beneath rather than trying to do it using the back (lifting from above). Grounding is a technique that comes from linking hips and feet. This exercise in its sitting and standing variations trains this quality
This exercise connects the various levels of the snake and allows you to isolate through flow. Placing the hands on the body helps awareness of how the isolations are sensated and placed.
This exercise trains hip initiated leans, falls and recovery as well as connections in the body