zonaradikos greek dance

Although keeping hands of non-family members is not that simple in corona-times, there are always ways to…..dance!

We are looking forward to welcoming our students soon in Greece again and teaching them some Greek traditional dance steps! It is one of those afternoon activities most students love; either to really dance and learn new steps, or to just watch fellow students while listening to the music, and enjoying a glass of wine!

Below you can learn more about a traditional dance from Thrace (north-eastern Greece), called “Zonaradikos”.

It is well known that Greeks love to dance and have a wide variety of traditional dances, depending on the region.
Dances from the “islands” are usually rhythmic and happy, as if you are following the movement of the sea waves.
The dances from Crete are fast and a bit more difficult.
The dances from mountainous areas on the mainland of Greece are slower and a bit “heavier”.
And another special variety of dances are the dances from Thrace. A good example is the Zonaradikos dance.

The origin

This dance comes from Eastern Romilia. Eastern Romilia is an area between Greece and Bulgaria. From 1878 to 1885 it was an autonomous region of the Ottoman Empire, then became part of Bulgaria.

Many Greeks – with considerable economic power- lived in this area. However, they were forced to leave the area after the end of World War I. Most of them came to live in Thrace and of course brought with them their traditions, part of which were their dances.

The name

The word “Zonaradikos” comes from the word «ζώνη»= belt. It owes its name to the way the dancers hold each other: they catch each other’s belts forming a circle.
(So a solution to dance during corona-times! You just need to make sure you wear a belt, so you can keep each other’s belts, instead of hands!)

The dance

The dance has 6, 8 or 12 steps depending on the area.

The dancers make two circles: one circle for men and one for women. According to the tradition, the last man in the dance to be caught with the first dancer of the women’s circle, in order to unite the circles in one, they must necessarily have a family relation. This custom existed in all the circular dances of the area.

The music

Due to the origin of dance from Eastern Romilia, the music that accompanies the dance has strong Balkan elements. The main instrument is the Thracian bagpipe, a kind of flute with a leather bag. The bagpipe is an instrument found in many Balkan countries. Other instruments are the clarinet and the tubercle.

Below you can see some examples of  Omilo students learning to dance the zonaradikos, in its most simple form, together with teacher Terpsi.
It is fun, and the best gymnastics after the Greek lessons in the morning 😉

Note for the professional dancers among us or on YouTube; Omilo is NOT a dance school, but organizes simple dance lessons during the afternoon, to offer a first introduction to Greek music and dancing steps, while having fun and creating a relaxing atmosphere…
At Omilo, it does not matter to make mistakes, as long you stay in the correct rhythm and you keep following the circle 😉



Interested in more Greek dances? Then click here to read about Siganos and Kalamatianos.