Even if I could carry a tune in a bucket, I would never make it as an opera diva. Sad, but true--I can't flick open and flutter my folding fan in a flirtatious manner. Rats. I can't flick it open at all. I'll never sing the title role of Bizet's "Carmen" or flutter in "Turandot".
We had a school demonstration of Tai Chi with fans this week. Tai Chi is a slow, soft martial art best known for relaxation, meditation, and range-of-motion exercise. I'd never seen Tai Chi done with music and fans before. The children were anxious to get their hands on one of the fans. Some of them were instantly able to mimic the motion required to open a fan with an impressive, loud snap.
When it was my turn, I was hopeless. "It is easy," the Tai Chi master said, "just like using chopsticks!" Go ahead and rub it in. I'm just as inept with chopsticks as I am with a curling iron.
My great aunt gave me a fan decades ago. I got it out of the cupboard and tried to get a grip on the fan flip technique. The tricks seem to be in flicking down to open up, and letting gravity do the work.
Some interesting links about fans:
A Painting in the Palm of Your Hand: 18th-Century Painted Fans from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.
The Language of Fans--While use of this language is a forgotten art, when we see it in a painting or opera the meaning is usually obvious.
© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder