Unit 37: Manipulation

Learning outcomes

  • Be able to adopt a disciplined approach to learning manipulation skills
  • Be able to demonstrate manipulation skills
  • Be able to select and organise manipulation skills into a performance

Fire staff

Creative inspiration: ‘Darkness Divine’

Odissi, Kathak and Bharatnatyam adavus (foot patterns) and mudras (hand gestures). Poses and posture of devadasi temple dancers (revered as a living symbol of the goddess’s shakti, or life-giving power, when the devadasi danced, she became the embodiment of the divine, intending to transform the space being danced in – in Indian classical dance every posture, every expression is considered an invocation to the Divine to incarnate, to be felt as a presence in the here and now of the dancer’s body.)

Nils Yalter’s artwork ‘The Headless Woman’ – contrast of covered face and eyes with exposed belly, appropriation of male symbols of fire and staff with an invocation of feminine power.

Movement inspirations

Tribal style and Indian fusion bellydance, notably the work of Rachel BriceApril RoseIrina Akulenko and Moria Chappell


Tribal fusion bellydance but with a dark, post-apocalyptic mood – hood and ‘blindfold’? Mood board here

MusicNew Orleans Bump by Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers

Contact staff skills required

  • Forward and backward figure 8s, left and right
  • Rotor in front (vertical) and above head (horizontal) – rotor transition behind back and overhead
  • ‘Nunchuck’ pass underarm to underarm
  • Neck roll
  • Halo roll
  • Roll up/down arms
  • Head balance
  • ‘Steve’
  • Palm spin

Ribbon fans

Creative inspiration: ‘Spring Flow’

Light, flowing, springtime, colour, flowering, celebration of new life – light/soft/legato contrast to dark/hard/staccato energy of staff piece

Movement inspirations

Loie Fuller, Ruth St Denis, fan dances of Kyoto maiko/geiko, ritual celebration


Colourful, floral, flowing. Celebration of nature. Exaggerated makeup of Chinese opera. Mood board here.

MusicTairyo-Bushi by Koichi Sugii

Fan manipulation skills required

  • Forward and backward circles; synchronised/split time; turning
  • Weave forward and backwards; turning; ‘big’ weave; lockout
  • Butterfly; extended/’big’; lockout
  • Spiral/helix figure 8 on horizontal plane; turning/moving
  • Stall/wrap stop