THE SPIDER- 32 POSITIONS OF THE ARMS
Anansi is a well-known character all through the African Diaspora and also on the continent. He is a clever trickster and storyteller. He is credited with being the one who brought stories and storytelling to the humans from the Sky God.
Like our hands can draw in, open dimensions, create an illusion and animate our storytelling, the gestures of the Talawa Technique are attributed to the principle of the spider, the storyteller. The 32 parallel arm positions of the technique, therefore, are organized under the spider.
The bases of the arm positions are 32 parallel positions. They form 1024 possible pose combinations. These are again organized into patterns that train the most common paths that the arms, wrist, and elbows trace when performing the Africana dances which form the base of the technique. Pre-programming these paths give precision and clarity to movement even when engaging in improvisational practices or when moving to a high tempo and energetic rhythms. The Talawa TechniqueTM focuses on choice and making these choices readily available to the dancer in high-speed movement involving multiple body parts and centers.
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.
These are the 32 positions structured in the paths most commonly used. However, we must stress that the 32 positions represent a possible 1024 combinations in the end-positions alone. The paths made by the hands when doing various combinations are a hidden gem in the technique. However, you will find that even training the 32 parallel positions will change how you think about your positioning, you will recognize them as you engage more in high-speed Africana vocabulary and you will find that your hands even when swinging will have more clarity. We recommend that counterpositions and down and upswings be trained to maximize the benefits of these drills. Everything must start somewhere, so let’s start with the basics.
The hand-flow quality smooths the movement and allows the dancer to experience the flow of the movement. It is in this quality that it is easiest to combine the paths with other moving body parts, and it will later benefit the dancer when moving with speed.
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 the 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. In other words, it facilitates poly-movement.
SPIDER-RHYTHMICAL WRIST VARIATION
This example combines the 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.
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 BASIC 4 BY 4 COUNTERPOSITIONS
SPIDER 4 BY 4 COUNTERPOSITIONS RHYTHMIC VARIATION
SPIDER 4 BY 4 COUNTERPOSITIONS WRIST VARIATION
Connections are exercises that either connect the different MYTHO-TECHNICAL animals together or which expands the exercises. Examples of connectios between the animals are 32 hands (spider) with bodyflow (snake), or 32 hands (spider) with 15 across the floor (bird). In Upswings and Downswings the 32 hands are connected with swinging action.
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.
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.
Downswings 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.
CONNECTIONS: 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 AFRICANA movement.
CONNECTIONS: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.