Choreography of a fan dance: 11 creative ideas

Fans are a popular accessory for dancers in many cultures. Native American Indians use hand feather fans decorated with colored bead handles for dances. In the Spanish art of flamenco, large fans accentuate the dramatic movements of the bailaor. Fans are a fun accessory for belly dancers, who use feather fans or folding fans, depending on the dance style. The rich history of the fan can inspire you to create your own unique fan dance.

Fan history

Fans have a long history around the world. The pharaohs used them as fans as cooling instruments, status symbols and decorative elements. They consisted of ostrich feathers attached to the tops of long poles and were used to fan royalty and for ceremonial processions.

In China, feather fans appeared 2,000 years ago; The folding fan (covered with paper or cloth) was invented in Japan in the 8th century. The fan became an art form in Asia, due to the beautiful paintings used as decoration. Round fans were especially popular with women.

In Europe and the United States, female fans reached the peak of popularity during the 1600-1800s as a fashion accessory and cooling instrument. The ladies used fan gestures (the “language of the fan”) to flirt and give covert messages to the gentlemen. The fans were richly decorated, sometimes with paintings on silk cloth, lace details, and mother-of-pearl ribs.

Choosing a fan

Modern folding fans come in many styles and are made with wooden or plastic ribs covered with fabric, colored paper, or feathers. Some have beautiful painted or embroidered designs. In belly dance and flamenco, fans with wooden ribs are preferable to plastic fans because they open and close more easily. New fans may be stiff at first and must be opened and closed several times to seat them.

Non-folding fans have a firm base that is covered in fabric and topped with feathers. You can make your own by gluing craft sticks into a fan shape, creating a handle, covering with fabric, and attaching feathers.

Movement ideas to create your own fan dance:

1. Google “Language of the Fan” and act out a story in this language.

2. Open the folding fan with one or both hands, or open it for a dramatic effect.

3. Play hide and seek with the fan, hiding and revealing one or both eyes.

4. Put your hands behind your back; fan your back as you walk in a circular pattern.

5. Keep the fan at your side and walk around the fan while holding it (technical space retention).

6. Holding a fan over your heart, look at your right shoulder, gently pressing the shoulder forward.

7. Hold the fan like a veil, covering the nose and lower face.

8. Blow out the air with the fan, creating loops, circles, or figures of 8s in the air.

9. Rotate with the fan, showing the fan design to the audience.

10. Hold the fan over your head with one or both hands and do a box step.

11. Go to and search for “Fan Dances” to get ideas from around the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *