The most beautiful part of my Greek descent that I retrieved was the deep emotions. In the Netherlands I was always bullied because I was supposedly so “lyric and dramatic”, which meant I wasn’t allowed to feel anything. Expressing my feelings was even more strictly forbidden. Maybe you will recognise something of this from your own life. In the end not only Greeks have feelings, do they?
In Greece having feelings is normal. You even have to, because Greeks know what pain is and sorrow. You don’t need to talk about them, since grief doesn’t fit together with words. Being silent together can mean so much at a sad moment in your life. The Dutch conferencier Toon Hermans also said it …
The Western way of dealing with emotions is that you’re obliged to talk about them. If you can’t, people will think you have some kind of a disorder. But the moment when a loved one is very ill or has passed away, when your love has left you or something else happened that is painful, you can’t always express your emotions in words. So much more if more than one sad thing has happened. You can just as well use a more expressive way to let it go.
In Greece we have very special music and a beautiful dance for such occasions. Traditionally it’s a men’s dance, but today women dance it too. Women make themselves extra beautiful when they grieve. A big layer of make-up, so that no-one can see their sorrow. Then they go out with their best friends and they drink, smoke and dance until the sorrow has gone. We perform the dance you see here underneath. It’s called zeïbékiko and you can put your whole soul into it.
We Greeks are convinced that very deep sorrow and very deep joy are one and the same thing. That is why our sad songs sometimes sound cheerful and that is why sad people dance. The gods are good and bad at the same time and in the classical tragedies you can see how deeply torn people can be when they mourn. The bouzouki is the musical instrument that expresses life … The zeïbékiko is a dance for one person. The one who stands up first and starts dancing, is respected, because he or she has something to express by dancing. All others watch and sometimes clap the rhythm.
In the video underneath you will hear and see a zebekiá or zeïbékiko. The name of the song is Βραδυάζει (evening falls). It was written by Christos Nikolópoulos, with texts by Sotia Tsotou and sung by the unforgettable Andonis Remos. Iván Svitailo, from Ukraine but with a Greek soul, performs the dance. Feel free to dance along!
© Natassa Vassiliou
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