Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Planet Hava Nagila: Aly Raisman's Olympic Floor Routine, The Wall Street Journal and Hava Nagila the Movie

It's been a big month for Hava Nagila, that favorite of bar mitzvah's, hockey games, celebrity appearances , and enterprising musicians worldwide. The excitement started on the 19th when director Roberta Grossman premiered "Hava Nagila The Movie" to a sold out crowd at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
"...featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Leonard Nimoy, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Regina Spektor and more, the film follows the ubiquitous party song on its fascinating journey from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the kibbutzim of Palestine to the cul-de-sacs of America. High on fun and entertainment, Hava Nagila (The Movie) is also surprisingly profound, tapping into universal themes about the importance of joy, the power of music and the resilient spirit of a people."

The film is getting good press and hopefully will be playing soon at a film festival near me. And you, too.

This past weekend, Hava Nagila (the song) showed up in the Wall Street Journal, that bastion of stock tickers and pinstripe, in an article titled "At Some Happy Events, Hava Nagila Isn't Invited." WSJ author Lucette Lagnado claimed that "Hava Nagila isn't in danger of becoming a musical relic. It already is one" and backed up the claim with quotes from from sources including enthomusicologist / musician Henry Sapoznik and Klezmatics vocalist Lorin Sklamberg, Manhattan Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, and Neshoma Orchestra, a NYC simcha band, leader Elly Zomick. Lagnado noted that Hava Nagila will live on in YouTube videos, such as those I linked above, and in new Jewish music bands reinterpreting the song, including Abraham Inc (see below) but that its been retired as a Jewish American favorite. As can be imagined, the article ruffled features around the Jewish world.

Finally, Hava Nagila was the backdrop for some Olympic drama on Sunday night.  Much to the delight of the US Jewish community, Team US Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman used an upbeat Hava Nagila as the soundtrack for her floor routine, an amazing performance that edged out US team All Around favorite Jordyn Wieber and sealed Raisman's position as one of two Americans to advance to the All Around competition.  As Haaretz reports,  Raisman's use of Hava Nagila was both tactical and traditional.  Raisman, a Jew from Needham, Mass, chose the music for it's folksy appeal and ability to get the audience engaged and clapping, something that helps her as an athlete focus and connect with the judges.  As an internationally known folk tune, Hava Nagila has been used a number of times by other gymnasts for similar reasons. A JTA article, cited by Haaretz, includes links to historic videos of gymnasts Gael Mackie of Canada, 2004, and Sandra Izbasa of Romania, 2010, using Hava Nagila for their routines. Raisman repeated her routine today as the anchor exercise sealing USA's team gold medal.  Let's hope it does as well when she competes for her personal All Around medal.

Neither of her two Olympic routines are available yet, but here's Raisman performing her Hava Nagila routine from the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Best of luck, Aly. We're rooting for you!

Hat tip to YouTube users richklebanIgnitedSoul13schillidstalkerokyagul and Anim3Mast3r for posting "Jake's Bar Mitzvah", "Jerome Iginla,""Bob Dylan Hava Nagila," "Indian Hava Nagila," "Rootwater - Hava Nagila," and "Final Fantasy - Avent Children Hava Nagila Techno" respectively. Also, hat tip to YouTube users HQ4Music for "Abraham Inc. - The H Tune aka Hava Nagila (Jazz à la villette part5)" and Susaluda for "Aly Raisman Floor - 2012 USA Gymnastics Olympic Trials Day 2"


Seth Ward said...

I wonder whether you or anyone else knows who is the artist featured on the recording used by Raisman?

Jack said...

Seth, I don't but will try to find out. Knowing how these things work, it's probably a track purchased of iTunes :)

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