Traditional Greek Dances


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This is a ppt showing traditional Greek dances from all major regions and group islands of Greece.

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Traditional Greek Dances

  2. 2. INTRODUCTION  Greece is one of the few countries in the world where folk dances are as alive today as they were in ancient times. Dance has always played an important role in the life of a Greek. It is an expression of human feelings and everyday life. The Greeks danced at religious festivals; they danced to ensure fertility; to prepare for war and to celebrate victories; they danced at weddings; to overcome depression and to cure physical illness. Almost every dance has a story to tell. Dance was regarded as one of the highest forms of art.  “The dance, of all the arts, is the one that most influences the soul. Dancing is divine in its nature and is the gift of the gods.” Plato  Dancing is one of the oldest means of expression and chronologically follows the song. The roots of dance in Greece are located approximately in 1000 BC.  In ancient times, dance was highly respected in particular for its educational properties. Dance was essential for developing personality as well as preparing for battle. Dance along with music, writing and physical exercise, was the basis of the educational system.
  3. 3. CHARACTERISTICS In contemporary Greek dances and rhythms we find musical motifs of ancient Greece. The traditional Greek dances are divided basically into two categories: The springing/leaping dance or “pidiκtos” and the shuffle/dragging dance known as “sirtos”. Most dances are circle dances, start with the right foot and move counter-clockwise. Each dancer is linked by a handkerchief or by holding hands, wrists or shoulders. In mixed dances, the man will lead the dance, which allows him in most regions to improvise or break away allowing him to express himself. Until recently, men and women rarely danced together although chains of men and women danced together at the same time, the women in the inner circle and the men in the outer circle.
  4. 4.  Greece has 6 mainland regions: Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly, Central Greece and Peloponnese. In addition, the Greek islands fall into various categories such as the Ionian islands between Greece and Italy, the Aegean Islands in the central Aegean Sea, the Dodecanese islands, in the southeast of the Aegean, and Crete, the largest island which lies in the southern part of the Aegean Sea, to name but a few.  Traditional dances in Greece are very diverse. Each of these regions or groups of islands in Greece has its own dances, which vary from region to region and even from village to village.This difference of dances is due to reasons such as the climate, the lifestyle of residents, wars and other disasters.  The name of each dance is usually associated with the place of origin (syrtos-kalamatianos, the Macedonian, etc.) or the name of the main character (the Menousis, the Manetas).Also, it may take its name from the various eras (the Easter dance), or derived from the names of occupations (the dance of the sponge) etc.
  5. 5. EPIRUS  Epirus lies between the Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea.  Dances from Epirus tend to be slow, heavy and danced with immense dignity. Their main instrument is the clarinet. Some of them are also combined with polyphonic singing.  Most of the times the locals were dancing their dances in public. In these public dances, everyone had their position and the series was absolutely predetermined, based on the social status, the age and sex of the dancer. What generally characterizes the Epirus dances is limited and restrained movements. However, the manner of implementation differed between men and women. The steps of the women were more smooth and small and performed in whole foot. There was also no room for women’s improvisation and steps should be followed strictly. However, the men had the comfort to move more strongly. This place is also rich in folk music.  Dances of this area include Sta Tria, Pogonisios, Sta Dyo, Vasilo Arhontissa, Yiatros, Kalamatianos, Tsamikos, Zagorisios, Koftos e.t.c.
  6. 6. EPIRUS: Koftos dance  Koftos is danced in an open circle by both men and women. Its name is due to the fact that there is an abrupt stop of the music which the dancers follow stopping their dance too and leaving out an exclamation of “ah”. The video showing Koftos dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 1”.
  7. 7. THESSALY  Thessaly was united with Greece in 1881. It mainly consists of fertile plains for farming. Their dances are similar to those of Epirus. Thessaly has a strong tradition of song-dances where the dancers sing the music, often without instruments. Instruments common to this region are the clarinet, violin, lute and defi (tambourine). The zournas and gaida were more common in the past especially in the areas bordering Macedonia. The dances are generally slow and dignified which include Sta Tria, Sta Dyo, Kalamatianos, Kleistos, Svarniara, Karagouna and Mperatis.
  8. 8. THESSALY: Mperatis dance The video that presents Mperatis dance is in the movie Part 1.
  9. 9. ΜΑCEDONIA Macedonia is one of the biggest Greek areas which borders Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly and the Aegean Sea. So, its musical, rhythmic and dancing civilization is similar to them. Moreover, they’re similar to other tribes of the Balkan peninsula. The thriving urban life of Macedonia has influenced its villages, creating a high standard and cultural level. The refugees of Minor Asia and East Thrace, who settled in Macedonia, have enriched the population and promoted the formulation of a wider variety of melodic, rhythmic dance and music. Macedonia by musical tradition is divided into West and East. The areas of West Macedonia are more rhythmic due to the complex shapes which resemble those of the Balkan neighbors. Here, we can see the famous “hasapiko” dance. In the villages of Central Macedonia, we can also meet refugees from Pontus, East Romelia, Macedonia, and Vlachs. All these groups have enriched in their own way the dance tradition of the area. In these areas, the first dancer is responsible for the dance team, by leading them, and doing various dancing shapes, not only the usual circle. In his hand he’s holding a handkerchief, and he dangles it freely, in accordance with the rhythm. In some dances he leads the dancing team into a labyrinthine shape.
  10. 10. MACEDONIA: KORI ELENI dance  It’s a fast, lively and “leaping” dance danced by both men and women. The video presenting Kori Eleni dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 1”.
  11. 11. THRACE  Thrace is a region of the Balkan Peninsula lying in the north-east of Greece. Due to its location between Europe and Asia, Thrace had always been invaded by various enemies such as Slavs, Turks, Bulgarians. This greatly influenced its musical and dancing tradition which is unique and rich. Thrace still keeps today lots of dancing customs. Its music and dancing tradition have also been affected by the music and customs of Minor Asia coastal areas. Thracian dances are generally skippy and light. In most of the dances only the men were permitted to dance at the front line. Typical dances of Thrace include antikristos, baidouska, ginka , zonaradikos and many others.
  12. 12. THRACE: ZONARADIKOS  Zonaradikos is named after the dancers’ handhold. Dancers hold the adjacent dancer's zonaria (belt) during the dance. It is a village line dance done in one form or another all over Greece. In each village the dance will look somewhat different, but the basic structure is essentially the same. The same dance is done in Bulgaria under the name Pravo. The video showing Zonaradikos dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 1”.
  13. 13. CENTRAL GREECE OR ROUMELI: Tsamikos  Tsamikos is a manful dance and one of the most vigorous Greek traditional dances. It is considered a Panhellenic dance, because it is danced in most of the areas of Greece. Its name was taken from Tsamouria or Tsamiko, an area in Epirus. It is also called ‘’thievish’’, because it was danced by the thieves during the Ottoman occupation. Depending on the area, there are various forms of tsamikos, with 8, 12, 14 and 16 steps. For example, in mountainous Central Greece the people prefer 8 steps, whereas in Peloponnese the people prefer 14 steps. In many cases, the person who dances in the front of the circle, improvises making jumps, scissors and turns, showing in this way his dancing skills. When the first dancer improvises making stunts, the other dancers follow with the steps of their area. The Peloponnese dancers’ movements have more freedom with jumps etc. ,whereas in Epirus the movements are slower.
  14. 14. CENTRAL GREECE OR ROUMELI: Tsamikos The video presenting Tsamikos dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 1”.
  15. 15. PELOPONNESE  Peloponnese, also known as Morea, is the cradle of modern Greece. It was here in 1821 that the struggle began to free Greece from the Ottoman rule and it is the oldest part of modern Greece, as we know it today. The main Poloponnese dances are Kalamatianos, Tsamikos, Tsakonikos and Kariatidon. Instruments used are the violin, the clarinet, the lute and santouri.
  16. 16. PELOPONNESE: TSAKONIKOS dance  The Tsakonikos dance comes from the region known as Tsakonia. It is danced in many towns and villages with little variation to the steps.  In some areas, it is also performed as a mixed dance in an open circle, with the hands held up.
  17. 17. Tsakonikos dance
  18. 18. PELOPONNESE: KALAMATIANOS dance Kalamatianós is one of the best known dances of Greece that is often performed at many social gatherings worldwide. It is danced in circle with a counterclockwise rotation, the dancers holding hands. It is believed to have acquired the name kalamatianos from the town of Kalamata in southern Greece. It is a joyous and festive dance; The steps are 12: 10 steps counterclockwise ("forward") followed by 2 steps clockwise ("backwards"). Depending on the occasion and the dancers' proficiency, certain steps may be taken as jumps or squats. The lead dancer usually holds the second dancer by a handkerchief, this allowing him or her to perform more elaborate steps and acrobatics. The roots of Kalamatianos can be found in antiquity. Homer, in the Iliad, describes three performances made around the spear of Achilles that depict a dance in an open circle.
  19. 19. PELOPONNESE: KALAMATIANOS dance  The video presenting Kalamatianos dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 1”.
  20. 20. PONTUS  Pontus is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Anatolia, Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal and mountainous land by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Pontos Euxeinos ("Hospitable Sea”), or simply Pontos.  Musical and dancing styles of Pontos were influenced by its topography. For this reason the musical style of the east Pontos has significant differences from that of the west Pontos. The Pontian music of Kars, for example, shows a clear influence from the music of the Caucasus and elements from other parts of Anatolia. The music and dances of Turks from Black Sea region are very similar to Greek Pontic and some songs and melodies are common.  A unique aspect of Pontian dances is the tremoulo, a fast shaking of the upper torso by a turning of the back on its axis. Like other Greek dances, they are danced in a line and the dancers form a circle. Their bodies stand erect when dancing, the legs are slightly open and the arms are either high up or bent. The legs follow the body with absolutely synchronised movements.  The most renowned Pontian dances are Tik, Serra, Maheria, Kotsari and Omal.
  21. 21. PONTUS: KOCHARI dance Kochari is a type of dance danced today by Armenians, Assyrians, Pontic Greeks and Turks. It has been described as follows: “ Group dancing, when dancers imitate jumping goats, is known as kochari. Dancers stand abreast, holding each other's hands, The tempo of the dance ranges from moderate to fast. Squatting and butting an imagined opponent are followed by high jumps.” . The video presenting Kochari dance is in the movie Part 2.
  22. 22. AEGEAN ISLANDS  The Aegean islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east. The dances of the Aegean are usually danced in a group , mainly in an open or closed loop . At the same time dances for couples are found ( between men or between women , or husband and wife ) dancing opposite (karsilamades or zempekiko ) or paired Bali ).  Features of the Aegean island dances are the "lightness“ of the movements, the use of " soustarismatos“, benting knees, and low leaps made parallel to the ground.  Typical Dances of the Aegean Islands are Ballos, Sirtos, Karsilamas, Sousta, Trata, Stavrotos, Chiotikos and Ikariotikos.
  23. 23. AEGEAN ISLANDS: Ikariotikos  Ikariotikos is a traditional dance accompanying songs originating in Ikaria , a Greek island in the North Eastern Aegean Sea. Some specialists say that the traditional Ikariotikos was slow and the quick "version" of it is in fact a Ballos.  It’s first danced with the arms in the basket weave hold. Then, as the dance speeds up it is danced by the hand hold on the shoulders. The dance is separated in three parts. In the first part of the dance we have slow moving walking steps , while in the second part we move into a dance similar in steps to the Issios of Kalymnos and then in the third part we move into the quick steps with the mobility of both legs and body.
  24. 24. AEGEAN ISLANDS: Ikariotikos  The video presenting Ikariotikos dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 2”.
  25. 25. IONIAN ISLANDS  The Ionian Islands also known as Eptanisa, meaning the seven islands, are a group of islands in Greece. Their music was highly influenced by Italy with main instruments being the guitar, violin and lute and in recent times, the mandolin. The people from Corfu are particularly musical and famous for their ‘kantades’. The dances are graceful, flirtatious and sometimes with swaying movement. Dances from these islands include Syrtos, Ballos, Ai Yiogis, Fourlana, Rouga, Korakianitikos, Thiakos, Kerkyraikos and Tsirigotikos.
  26. 26. IONIAN ISLANDS: Kerkiraikos  The Kerkiraikos dance is accompanied by folk songs and is danced in Corfu. The dance of Corfu is characterized by lightness, grace and strong lyrical element. It is danced in couples who face the direction of the dance . It can also start from a simple circle and then be transformed into pairs . The legs play the basic role. The dance consists of 12 steps and has many similarities with the Greek dance Kalamatianos.
  27. 27. IONIAN ISLANDS: Kerkiraikos  The video presenting Kerkiraikos dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 2”.
  28. 28. CRETE  The dances of Crete express the rich inner world of people, their emotions , excitement , frustration , love and romance .  Despite the rich dance repertoire of the Cretans, some dances like apanomeritis , mikro mikraki etc. have disappeared because of evolution. Some of the dances still danced today are soysta, pentozali , siganos and kastrinos or Maleviziotis or pidihtos .  Although all Cretan dances are danced all over the island and they have their roots in ancient Minoan ceremonies, each dance has something unique. There is an unwritten tradition that ranks them by district. So syrtos is considered a dance of W.Crete ( Chania ) , sousta is of Central and Western Crete( Rethymno , Heraklion) , the Maleviziotis of Central (Heraclion ) and pentozali eastern Crete ( Lassithi ) .
  29. 29. CRETE: Maleviziotis dance  The Maleviziotis or Maleviziotikos or Kastrinos or pidihtos is the quickest and liveliest dance of Crete . It is called Maleviziotis because it seems that it took its final form in the province of Maleviziou. It is called Kastrinos because Heraklion was earlier called Big Castle. It is called Pidihtos from the nervous airy jumps and stunts that the dancers make. It is considered the chief dance of Heraklion .  It is danced by men and women. With its fast pace and vitality it gives the dancer the opportunity to show how quick he is, to show his endurance, his ability to improvise and impress with airy jumps. This dance has eight leg movements. In Maleviziotis dancers rush forward as if they attack. In the eighth movement some of them raise their right hand as if they throw the javelin.
  30. 30. CRETE: Maleviziotis dance  The video presenting Maleviziotis dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 2”.
  31. 31. DODECANESE  The Dodecanese, meaning “twelve islands”, are a group of 12 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited. This island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They have a rich history, and many of even the smallest inhabited islands boast dozens of Byzantine churches and medieval castles.  The most historically important and well-known is Rhodes (Rodos), which, for millennia, has been the island from which the region is controlled. Of the others, Kos and Patmos are historically more important; the remaining nine are Astipalea, Kalimnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos and Kastellorizo.  They have a rich musical tradition and their dances were influenced by the Cretans who immigrated, fleeing from the Turks. This probably explains why their main instrument was the lyre. The violin became popular accompanied by the santouri and in some cases replaced the lyre although the lyre is now having a major comeback. Dances from this area include Syrtos, Ballos, Roditikos, Lerikos, Sirba, Haniotikos and Sousta.
  32. 32. DODECANESE:Roditikos  Roditikos is the most typical dance of Rhodes and of all Dodecanese. It’s a lively, joyful and erotic dance in which the main front dancer usually calls his partner, a woman, to dance in the middle of the circle.
  33. 33. DODECANESE:Roditikos  The video presenting roditikos dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 2”.
  34. 34. HASAPIKO DANCE  The hasapiko, meaning “the butcher's dance” from the Turkish word: kasap “butcher”, is a Greek folk dance from Constantinople. The dance originated in the Middle Ages as a battle mime with swords performed by the Greek butchers, who adopted it from the military of Byzantine era. In Constantinople during the Byzantine times, it was called in Greek makellarikos from makellarios “butcher”. There are two versions of the dance, the slow one and the fast one, often called hasaposerviko, referring to Serbian and other Balkan influences on this version of the dance.
  35. 35. HASAPIKO DANCE  The video presenting hasapiko dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 3”.
  36. 36. SYRTAKI DANCE  Syrtaki is a popular dance of Greek origin, choreographed by Giorgos Provias for the 1964 film Zorba the Greek. It is not a traditional Greek folkdance, but a mixture of the slow and fast versions of the hasapiko dance. The dance, and the accompanying music by Mikis Theodorakis, are also called Zorba's dance, Zorbas, or "the dance of Zorba".  The name Syrtaki comes from the Greek word: syrtos, a common name for a group of traditional dances of so-called "dragging" style, as opposed to pidikhtos , a hopping or leaping style. Despite that, Syrtaki combines both syrtos (in its slower part) and pidikhtos (in its faster part) elements.  The link below presents the syrtaki scene from the film Zorba the Greek 4UV6HVMRmdk
  37. 37. SYRTAKI DANCE  The video presenting syrtaki dance is in the movie “Traditional Greek Dances Part 3”.
  38. 38. Sites consulted   