Finding my Zaghareet

Dance is probably the thing that I pursue the most pro-actively (for sure what I’m most likely to register for workshops for and not miss regularly scheduled session for), and the thing I’ve blogged about the least here. While I study a variety of dance styles (ballet, African, belly) belly dance is the one I have most of my heart in right now. There are a lot of belly dance moves that I need to practice more regularly if I’d like to improve: hip shimmies, shoulder shimmies, belly flutters. But the thing that I’ve been making the most progress with is my zaghareet.

I tried to pull a definition for zaghareet from Wikipedia but Wiki’s no fun, it re-directs to a page about ululations.  So I turned to Shira, knower of all belly dance knowledge.  From her belly dance glossary:

(Pronounced “zah guh REET”.) The zaghareet is a high-pitched ululation done with the tongue. It is a sound of celebration associated with weddings, parties, and other joyful occasions. Within the context of belly dancing, it is a favorite tool for expressing approval for whatever the dancer is doing at the time, and sometimes dancers themselves will zaghareet to express how much fun they’re having at the moment.

Halifax is a very tribal and tribal fusion-friendly belly dance community, so there’s a lot of hissing and yipping too, but I always felt a little silly cheering in tribal styles for Egyptiain/Oriental/Turkish/Cabaret acts.

At the end of a dance class, it is good class etiquette to applaud to your instructor (and to the musical accompaniment, if there’s a pianist/drummer/a person who isn’t a tape deck, basically).  I studied with the Uberwench for a few years, and at the end of her class, we always worked on our zaghareet.  Uberwench is a BEAST at the zaghareet, it’s fast, loud, and high-pitched.  And though it was super fun to try, I always found there to be a bit of stress in the context of our zaghareet practice- everybody was quiet, the cd player was off, it was just the sound of us zaghareeting!

I think it’s African dance that has really provided me the opportunity to really make progress on my zaghareet.  I go to the African Dance is for Everybody dance class fairly regularly.  After warm-up, we learn a “choreography” (a traditional dance, and she shows us a set number of moves which we cycle through when the drummer plays the call- we don’t dance as fast, long, or hard as I presume these dances are traditionally done).  We do it once or twice as a group, then split into two groups and perform the routine for each other. Susan, the instructor, encourages us to make a lot of noise for one another.  This noisy environment, with loud live drumming, is the best place in the world to practice zaghareeting.  If I muck it up, nobody can really hear it that clearly *anyway*.  It’s the perfect safe space!

I’ve been zaghareeting for a few weeks now, and I can’t wait for my current belly dance studio’s Student Showcase so I can practice Zaghareeting at some awesome live belly dancing.


One response

  1. Pingback: Tribal Hair & Makeup « Poems That Dance

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