Originally posted to the SpinTribe forum, and reprinted here with the author’s permission.
A SpinTribe poster asked:
…I am wondering if anyone has ever produced a video or DVD with basic instruction on holds, technique, movements, etc…
C. S. responded:
As far as I am concerned, having a set of specified patterns that a fan/flag player is expected to execute — like the “compulsories” in Olympic figure-skating — is potentially stifling to individual creativity, and thus antithetical to the real journey: that of discovering the dance that is uniquely yours.
If you study someone’s video or DVD you will only learn how they flag, not how you can find your own groove with it.
Instead of trying to imitate particular moves from a book or video, work on unlocking how your own body wants to move…
Unlocking how your body wants to move
Find a mirror, play some music, put both rags in your non-dominant hand (left if you are right-handed, right if you are left-handed) and let loose!
Remember that this is about dance, and therefore start with your lower body: Whether mirroring the rags, moving both parallel to each other, or in the various ways that one circles (see “The Circle”, below), power your movements from your legs and hips.
Once you feel your non-dominant hand has taken you to enough amazing places that you are willing to trust it (vs. viewing it as a poor imitation of your dominant hand), put one rag in each hand and play both, but continue giving your nondominant hand the chance to lead and your dominant hand to follow.
Constantly relying on your dominant hand will make your lower body more rigid, whereas your non-dominant hand will keep it loose.
When you get to the point of wanting to refine a particular move (which will likely mean leading with the dominant hand), remember what your non-dominant hand has taught you, and stay in touch with it through your legs and hips.
You will learn all sorts of things about yourself, as well as moves/patterns that feel organic because they belong to you.
Very often, people get “stuck in the circle”–so in love with it, their range of moves becomes limited. Don’t obsess with solving that particular puzzle: you’ll get it eventually. Work on it for a while, leave it alone, and then come back to it.
One way to get to the circle is to start with the rags moving parallel, and then get your arms moving in opposition–think of the arms of a marching soldier. This should get the rags spinning in the same clockwise or counter-clockwise direction, but on opposite sides of a large circle (e.g., a clock-face with one hand starting off at 12 and the other at 6). Then imagine you’re wearing handcuffs connected with a long chain (but flexible! like made of elastic rubber…): Gradually, move your hands closer together, as if one link after another is being eliminated from the connecting chain
Another approach it is to put one wrist on top of another while moving both rags parallel, and then letting the hand on top run away from the one underneath: think of it as one horse pulling away from the other as they’re circling a track.
A mirror can be your friend–but not if you get sucked in like Narcissus! Get the groove going without the mirror, then use the mirror to fine-tune what you’re doing, to smooth out the edges or choppiness.
– Candida Scott Piel