This post is part of a project to share reflections about all 28 of the Core Elements of InterPlay.  For background information about InterPlay or this project, read What the Heck is InterPlay?!.

What’s a One-Hand Dance?

A one-hand dance is exactly that — a dance in which only the hand moves (well, I guess the arm moves, too; it’s attached to the hand, after all).

Experience it for yourself by watching the video (above).  I’m giving the instructions while Dorothy does a hand dance. Follow along if you like.

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A one-hand dance is strangely satisfying. Totally relaxing. Plus, I’m frequently surprised by all the different ways I can move my hand. If there’s that much expression in one hand — just imagine how much there is in a whole body!

Here are some other good reasons:

Stress Relief

A hand dance is great for stress relief, too. When I’m feeling too overloaded, taking 30 seconds to shake, punch, and zoom my hand above my computer can work wonders. (In InterPlay we call this exformation).


One-hand dances are lovely for remembering people we care about. For example, lately I’ve been waking up with specific people on my mind. Right there in bed, I’ll do a one-hand dance on behalf of the person I was thinking about.  Usually it lasts under a minute, and I always feel more connected to that person after wards.


But I’ve saved the BEST reason for LAST. The one-hand dance is a remarkable tool for discernment. I know, that sounds wierd. How do you discern something by dancing!? Here’s what the facilitation manual says on the subject:

Have each person think of a question they have for/about themselves. Then have them take the question directly out of their “focusers” and let it float out in the space. … Do a one-hand dance, then afterwards notice with a partner about anything that came up.

I’m constantly astounded by the ideas that “show up” when I move. When I was writing my thesis, I often used movement to “discern” what the next steps in my research should be. You can read more about that here.

But why does it work!? Why does movement sometimes free up our ability to think innovatively about something? Maybe because the brain stops thinking so hard. It’s often in this “letting go” place that inspiration strikes. More about this in a fabulous New Yorker article on eureka moments.

It might also because the movement of the hand distracts us from our inner chatter. Since we’re focusing on the movement of our arms, we’re less likely to spend time listening to all our judgments, worries, fantasies, etc etc etc. Freed up from our habitual thinking, were more likely to notice new ideas that pop into our minds.

I’m sure there are other reasons, too, related to the neuroscience of how movement changes our thought processes.   The body-mind connection is fascinating!

Now What?!

So, I’m curious: did you try doing a hand-dance along with the video? If so, what was it like for you?

Please don’t think you had to have a “aha!” moment in order to comment. All experiences are totally legit.

(If you want to comment, the link is actually up under the heading to the blog post; sorry it’s so hard to find!)

*P.S. I hemmed and hawed about whether to use the word “prayer” in this post. It’s such a loaded term in our culture, and I think some people are turned off by it. Here I refer to prayer as a way of sending good thoughts in the direction of people I care about. It does not have to be specifically religious or spiritual, although it can be.