Return to Flare (idea)

Breaking (breakdancing) exhibitions can easily enchant an observer. The graceful manipulation of the human body, incorporation of creativity in styling original and standard elements, and its freestyle nature comprise an ever dynamic breaking display. While breaking moves are performed equipment-free on any clear floor or ground, some originated on the pommel horse, like the flare.

The first flare, performed by Canadian gymnast Phillip Delassal in the mid-1970s and adapted by American Kurt Thomas at the World Gymnastics Championships, was a modification of the double leg circle (DLC) element on the pommel horse. The DLC, typically done with legs together, becomes a flare when it is done with legs apart. The DLC is a movement in which legs held together perform an elevated circle in a plane parallel to the ground, while the body is suspended on two hands. Contrastingly, in the flare, widespread legs appear to have pendular motion. During flares, the spread of the legs along an elliptical path help performers attain maximum amplitude with relatively small efforts.

Even though the flare may sound simple, it is difficult for most. It involves the performer kicking his/her legs up into a V in front his torso then bringing them all the way around without touching the ground, while hands alternately give the body support. While there are many ways to start or segue into a flare, here is a simple method for a counterclockwise flare:

  1. Stand with legs spread.
  2. Place the left hand down on the ground, far in front, then kick the left leg under the right one, sweeping it all the way around to the front. When doing so, kick forward, not upward.
  3. When body weight shifts to the left arm, the right hand should come down close to the body, as is its natural tendency in this circumstance.
  4. When body weight shifts to the right arm, temporarily lift the left arm so that the legs can pass beneath it.
  5. At this point, both hands should be on the ground. Leaning forward and keeping arms stiff, move legs to the back.
  6. Lift the right arm so that the legs can pass beneath it.
  7. Keep the right leg high and close to the head while swinging the left leg under it towards the front.
  8. At this point the flare can be repeated. After much practicen, series of flares can be performed with small efforts.

In all, what began on the pommel horse was taken to the floor exercise by gymnasts then to the dance floor by breakdancers (b-boys/b-girls). Along with hip-hop, Capoeira, and African cultural dances, gymnastics lies at the heart of breaking.

Sources:
"Air-Legs", The Origin of the Flare, http://home.planet.nl/~loon0070/Bboyflar2.html.
Bboy Gallery - The art of break dancing, http://www.sphereofhiphop.com/bboy.htm.
Thanks to a generous friend, "Pin-lock" for showing me how to flare repeatedly, though I'm still too weak to do it myself.

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