The Sounds of Celebration – ALLAF 008
Know what to say when a fellow belly dancer is killin’ it on stage, do the money shower clap to the famous song Caje Sukarije, and rock a belly chain like Jill Parker.
Celebrating is an art. It is invigorating, it inspires us to keep achieving, and strengthens our habit of defaulting to gratitude.
I celebrate a lot lately. Being parents has brought more celebration into our lives. We’re getting rid of diapers, and we celebrate many times each day when our 2 year old uses the potty. The drums come out and we dance around wildly until he signals that our celebration is complete. And regular life resumes.
Some of the best displays of celebration come from children. They are also masters of celebrating, with no concern for how wild and crazy they might look. Many athletes and sports fans are also very good at celebrating, all fueled by adrenaline and victory.
It seems that belly dancers celebrate in shimmies, selfies and bows. Not as exuberant and kids or athletes, but those are definitely kinds of celebration.
When was the last time you celebrated? I mean physically celebrated. When you jumped up and down and cheered and smiled as big as you can? Was it recently? Just a reminder: Life is incredibly short.
What prompted the last celebration you can remember?
Think of something that is worthy of celebrating that you have not celebrated. A Celebratory Situation. It could be nailing a new dance move that you really enjoy doing. Or creating a delicious healthy vegan meal. Or finally understanding the rhythm of a song that you were struggling with. Or fitting perfectly into the costume that did not fit you last time you tried to put it on.
Describe your Celebratory Situation out loud. “I want to celebrate…listening to another episode of A Little Lighter.” Whatever you like. Say it out loud. “I want to celebrate…”
And now think of a sound you want to make to celebrate. A Celebratory Sound. This is what this episode is all about. Exclamations. Joy. Acknowledgment.
You might want to clap, zaghareet, say “oh-pah”, yip, say “eye-wah”. Choose a sound you enjoy making.
If you like, it can be a sound you make when you see a fellow dancer do something you love, or when you are dancing to live music and the music shifts into something you really like.
I love to zaghareet. Not often, because it’s so loud and can even scare people. But when there’s a shift in energy and I want to add to it, the zaghareet comes out.
Whatever it is, choose a sound. Make that sound now.
Now that you have a Celebratory Situation and a Celebratory Sound to go with it, practice the physical dance of celebration. Jump up! Throw your arms in the air, wave them like you just don’t care. Just kidding. Throw those arms up into a pose that expands your chest and raises your face. Let’s call this your Celebratory Stance. Make your Celebratory Sound now while you are in your Celebratory Stance.
Now let’s put all 3 parts of this Danceable Ritual together.
If it’s safe to close your eyes, do that now. Envision this one thing you want to celebrate now. See that Celebratory Situation happening in your mind. Take a deep breath in, and exhale. Get ready. Feel the excitement building as you take in another deep breath, and jump up into your Celebratory Stance with arms up high and make the sound!
That felt really good. Let’s relax and get ready to celebrate again.
You can envision the same thing you want to celebrate again, or choose something else. You try another celebratory sound if the first one didn’t do it for you, or make the same sound again. Don’t think too much about choosing. Just choose and move forward.
Are you ready to celebrate again? This time, take it up a notch. There’s no way you celebrated at a level 10 the first time you did it. Celebrate with even higher energy this time.
Take a deep breath. Think of that Celebratory Situation. Jump into your celebratory stance, and make your celebratory sound!
Nice. One more time. This time, we’re going to celebrate celebrating. Right now. Jump into that beautiful Celebratory Stance and make your sound!
This Danceable Ritual was inspired by event designed by Tony Robbins and T Harv Eker.
Just as we can train ourselves to focus on gratitude, we can also train ourselves to celebrate. Celebrate that we have electricity. Celebrate that we have food in the fridge. Celebrate that someone turned us on to belly dance and we keep dancing.
This song has a celebratory feel to it because of the call and response and wide open chorus of Oh-Ah. And it’s really fun to dance to. When our band Taksim Ithaca performs this song, our singer throws in an “Opa” after the improv section and we get wild.
This song was sung by Esma Redžepova (“Reh jep poh vah”), a Romani woman with an incredibly powerful voice and presence. She passed away in 2016 and was born in the 40s in Yugoslavia, which became Macedonia in 1991. Macedonia is a smaller landlocked country just north of Greece. Mack-eh-donia is more of a geographical concept and a group of people.
Esma was one of the first to sing in a Romani language on the radio and on TV, and this song was her top hit. She was nicknamed “Queen of the Gypsies”. And she sings with passion and dresses with her own sense of style. Scarves and layers and shiny uniquely tailored dresses. She was a super performer, touring the world, collaborating with all kinds of musicians, featured in films, and even brought electronic music into her shows. Because many Romani performers are always adapting and incorporating what they discover outside of Romani culture into their art.
According to Wikipedia, Esma started signing at a time when Romani people “considered it shameful” for Roma women to sing in public. And she married a non-gypsy musician and composer named Stevo Teodosievski (“Teo daw see ehv skee”) who helped her rise to fame. And they fostered 47 children. Sounds like a pretty unstoppable woman to me. I would love to have met her.
Now back to the song. It’s about a smoking hot girl. The singer is essentially saying, “Pretty girl, don’t walk behind me. Look at me! Bring me water to put out the fire in my heart.” I found the translation on allthelyrics.com. https://www.allthelyrics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=60219?t=60219
So, it’s a very danceable song. It’s a lot of fun to spin during the Oh-ah part, and to do a physical response to the pretty girl part
There’s a video on my site aliciafree.com with tips on How to Belly Dance With a Live Band with Caje Sukarije as the example song. I bet you will like it.
DAMN SEXY DANCE MOVE
When a dancer claps we invite the audience to be part of the music. When the music is high energy and the full band is playing, clapping in time with the music is a great way to let musicians know you are digging the music.
There are so many ways to clap. I bet most of us clap with our finger tips pointing to the sky. The fabulous Jill Parker taught me how to clap with my fingertips toward the audience. So the motion is really going toward them. And our hands are rotated so that our bottom palm is facing the sky and our top palm is facing the ground.
Jill told me that she learned this move from Katarina Burda of Aywah! and John Compton of Hahbi ‘Ru.
I don’t know what Jill calls this clap, but I think of it as a money shower clap. Like you have a pile of hundred dollar bills resting in the palm of your bottom hand and the top hand is showering the audience with one bill at a time. Your dancing is a treasure!
Put one hand in front of you with the palm up and your forearm and fingers almost perpendicular to your ribs. Keep that hand there. It won’t really move. Flip your other hand palm down and clap. Now with the top hand, add a forward motion each time you clap like you are brushing a bill to the audience off of your upturned palm. It’s a fun little variation, right? Jill does her version of this clap in one of her choreographies along with a big bouncing hip circle. She’s bouncing with the heels of her feet as she does it.
Want to try the Money Shower Clap with the big bouncing hip circle? Stand up with soft knees and good belly dance posture and start your big hip circle. Add the bounce, add the clap, watch the video in the show notes, and you’ll get it.
Do that money shower clap when the music moves you to celebrate and make it rain!
FEATURED LIGHTEN MY BODY FOOD: Agave
It’s rare for me to feature sweeteners, but the celebratory theme of this episode goes well with the ingredient agave syrup. It’s the juice of an agave plant boiled to create a thicker syrup, much like maple syrup. But unlike maple trees, agave grows in the dessert. Agave syrup is actually sweeter than cane sugar, and because it is so easy to pour a little goes a long way.
Sugar is not a bad thing. It’s our relationship to sugar that gets tricky. It can be an addictive substance. The more we eat, the more we want.
I eat sugar, and I have a healthy relationship with it. I make tea and other drinks without it sometimes, and other times I add it. I make most meals without any added sweetener, and I enjoy it when I do add it. When a recipe calls for sweetener, I usually use half of what the recipe says to use. This works for me.
It’s good to look at how we dance with sweeteners. Do we depend them to make food and drinks palatable, or do we take intermittent breaks from sweeteners and enjoy flavors of our food differently? Do we keep pushing our tolerance for how much we can consume? Do we order a dessert for ourselves and eat the whole thing or would we rather share it with other people. I have never understood why desserts came in such big servings. Don’t get me wrong, I love a whole cupcake. But I’m just as happy eating a quarter or half of a cupcake and saving the rest for another time. I get to enjoy a few bites and then enjoy it again later.
Back to agave. Unlike a denser sweetener such as brown rice syrup, agave syrup has little nutritional value and it hits the blood stream hard and fast. So it’s not a healthy food, but a little agave syrup mixed into a stir fry or savory soup or lemon water makes whole food ingredients shine just a little bit brighter. And agave azul is fermented to make tequila.
In Thai cooking, the recipes often call for liquid sugar. It’s often palm sugar boiled with water so it permeates the sauce and the dish. I was surprised when took a cooking class in South Korea and the chef used agave syrup. That may be unusual, but it made me realize that agave syrup is really easy to work with. It’s also a beautiful amber color. The nutritional content may be similar to refined white sugar, but agave syrup to me feels like a treat. It’s a bit more expensive too, which makes us think twice about adding it. Big bags of cheap white sugar make overdoing it easier. Whatever works!
MAKE YOU SHINE COSTUME TIP: Try a belly chain
Try wearing a belly chain up on your waist. The video of Jill Parker doing the Money Shower Clap includes some belly chain inspiration. I like to get really long necklaces with a lot of options for adjusting the length. Necklaces where a long section is big enough to hook the fastener into it at any point. Basically a necklace you can loop that doubles as a belt.
FEEL-GOOD-LOOK-GODDESS HABIT: If you like it, let them know!
The Armenia singer in our band Mane asked us a very good question the other day. She said, “When you like how I’m singing, how will you let me know? I want to hear you.”
Mane inspired this Feel-good-look-goddess-habit. When we like what a performer is doing, let’s let them know! When we authentically help others feel and look better, we make ourselves feel and look better. We raise each other up.
So let’s get in the habit of celebrating the awesomeness of others. Let’s say “Eye-wah” when we love the music. Let’s say “Opa” when the energy in the room feels good. Let’s zagarheet when a dancer is doing something amazing. Olé when we want more.
Let’s say “Ya Allah” when we’re having an oh my god this is so good moment.
There will be a whole episode on clapping and using our bodies as instruments coming up soon.
For this episode, let’s focus on celebrating. What it sounds like, feels like and looks like. There’s just so much to celebrate in the world. I want more.