I’m sorry if the title seems misleading! I don’t think I could EVER encompass everything that you need to know about Greek dance but I can try to give you a beginner’s course. I’m hoping with this blog post to give you guys a crash course in a few things that are related to Greek dance. If you want the super duper details, I do offer workshops on the topic! The main section I am going to cover in this blog post is Greek folk dance. Ready? Let’s go!
Folk Steps:There are hundreds of dances and they vary from mainland to island. Each has a basic step and one or two variants that go along with them. There are also “tricks” that can range from a complex variation of steps to a demonstration of athletic skill.Greek dances are usually performed in a line that turns into an open circle but there are a few that can be done in pairs. Within the line, there are two important positions: the leader and the end. The leader sets the steps to be used and tells the group when to start. The leader can also break off to improve. The end keeps the line/circle open and maintains the step should the leader choose to break off.
Arm Position:There are a few arm positions: hands clasped, basket weave, hands on shoulders and hands on waist
Dances:Syrto- the Syrto is a folk dance from the island of Chios. The basic beat is 1-23, 1-23. There are 2 variations to the basic step: a cross back cross over and a cross rock step. The tricks include a turn, a guided turn and a box step. It is in ¾ time.
Kalmatiano- The Kalamatiano is considered the national dance of Greece. It has similar steps to the syrto but it is in 7/8 time. The dance has 12 steps. The tricks include a turn and hops.
Tskamiko- The Tsamiko was traditionally done only by men. It originated in Epirus and was danced by the fighters of the 1821 revolution when Greece won its independence from the Ottoman empire. The basic beat and steps follow a 1 pause, 2 pause, 3 pause, kick. There is a simple step and a 16 step version that has more variation in direction. The tricks involve a lot of jumping, kicking and shows of athletisism.
Hassapiko- The Hassapiko is a very popular, relatively modern Greek circle dance. It is called a Pan-Hellenic dance, because it is danced all over Greece. It is a lively dance that dates back to Byzantium when it was danced by the butchers of Constantinople. It has become known as the Zorba dance. There are also some who call it the sailor’s dance or the naftiko. When danced at a faster beat, it is called the Hasaposerviko and the steps resemble the Jewish “hora.”
Above all the most important thing when learning any Greek dance is to have kerthi. Kerthi is most easily described as the heart of the dancer. Regardless of technical skill, if a dancer does not have kerthi, a Greek audience is not enthralled.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about Greek dance! Tada! Ok, maybe not! But in all seriousness, this is a good place to start on your journey to delver deeper into Greek dance.