What comes to your mind when you hear « Greek dances »? Probably, the first dance that comes to mind is the “Syrtaki”. And not without reason. Syrtaki became known all over the world thanks to the movie “Zorbas the Greek”. Most of us have in mind Anthony Quinn dancing this dance and saying: “geia sou, leventi!”. Indeed, the Sirtaki represents the Greek people and their soul, but it is actually a dance that was « made » for the movie and a « combination » of various Greek steps you can find in the traditional dances.
Greece has a wide variety of traditional dances. From area to area, there are several differences and they all have their semantics. Slow and heavy dances in Epirus (that’s life in the mountains), lively and rhythmic in the Aegean islands (dancers imitate the waves and the seagulls), fast and “leventikoi” (brave and upstanding) in Crete. Each Greek dance carries the mentality, the habits, and the customs of each area. The steps, the way we hold the hands, the costumes, and of course the music, they all have something to tell about people and their life.
Kalamatianos, syrtos, tsamikos, mpalos are some of the most popular. We can find most of them in every part of Greece with some variations. These dances are a mixture of body and soul expression and in traditional society were an important part both of religious feasts (panigiria) and of social events: marriages, baptisms, name days. Nowadays, these dances survive through generations and keep the tradition alive. There is no Greek feast where people do not dance a kalamatiano or a syrto. So, if you are going to attend a Greek party, make sure that you have learned the 12 steps of kalamatianos, so as not to feel that you don’t fit in… and remember: in case you lose your step, don’t panic! The important thing is not to lose your “kefi” (good mood)!
Do you also want to learn some Greek dancing steps, while having fun?
During every 1- or 2-week intensive Language and Culture course, Omilo also offers some Greek dance lessons during the afternoons. Perfect to relax after class…or practice in the tavern!
Take a look at a Kalamatianos dance, danced by the Omilo-students during a Greek course in Syros
Do you want to learn more about easy Greek dances and see more videos? Then check out the other articles;