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The Language of fans

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But if the air is hot and still and humid, she may very well be fanning away the heat, yes? I assume that facial expression is critical in letting the person question know whether the fan is being used for its primary purpose or as a signal.

Passing the fan from hand to hand:

"I see that you are looking at another woman"

or "This hand is getting tired of holding the fan."

There are some gorgeous fans on that site. I guess it can't hurt to know their proper use. :wallbash:

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I recognize a number of these from Act I of Don Q - when Basil is flirting with Kitri's friends, when Kitri is receiving unwanted attention from Gamache, etc.

I've also seen a fan used in Act I of Barbiere di Siviglia when Rosina appears on the balcony and now I know she's signalling "I can't go out".

Thank you, Alexandra.

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Myra Kinch did a ballet, yes, ballet, with music by Scarlatti, I think, and a spoken text taken from an 18th-century etiquette book, recited by an onstage pianist, three dancers and a mime role for an "uncouth servant". It was a real stitch; Princeton Ballet used to do it. Its title was "To Unfurl the Fan".

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Thank you, Alexandra, for that link. I have a childhood memory of a fan in our family which had, on each segment, an drawing of an 18th century woman performing one of the gestures. Under each drawing, a brief written caption gave the meaning. The fan appeared to be quite old. Unfortunately, I can't remember any of the gestures specifically.

It was a paper fan, with the ribs (or whatever they are called) made of light-weight wood. I can recall my mother --a ballet dancer as a girl -- performing each gesture to show us how it worked. I should add that this was long, long ago.

Is it possible that fans like that one were "practice fans" or aides memoires that used to teach young women -- or possibly only dancers -- how to speak what was, at least within certain circles, a "language" that was really put to use?

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