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Monday, December 8, 2008

Greece - Traditional Dances

Greek Dances

Greek dance is a very old tradition, being referred to by ancient authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and Lucian. There are many different styles and interpretations from all of the islands and surrounding mainland areas.

Each region formed its own choreography and style to fit in with their own ways. For example, island dances have more of a "watery" flow to them, while Pontic dancing closer to Black Sea, is very sharp.

There are over 4,000 traditional dances that come from all regions of Greece. There are also Pan Hellenic dances, which have been adopted throughout the Greek world. These include the tsamiko, syrtos, and kalamatianos. Traditional Greek dancing has a primarily social function. It brings the community together at key points of the year, such as Easter, the grape harvest or patronal festivals; and at key points in the lives of individuals and families, such as weddings. For this reason, tradition frequently dictates a strict order in the arrangement of the dancers, for example, by age.

Visitors tempted to join in a celebration should be careful not to violate these arrangements, in which the prestige of the individual villagers may be embodied.

Greek dances are performed often in diaspora Greek communities, and among international folk dance groups.

Greek Folk Dances

It is stated that there are hundreds of Folk dances in Greece; many more have been lost during the last decades before anyone had the chance to record them. Very often, the same dance is executed in different ways from one village to the next or from one island to the other.
Some dances have no name; they are simply the established way to move while singing a particular song. In other instances, we find that a dance was given the same name as a different dance from another region. Until the beginning of this century, most dances had no need for a name at all, since everyone in the village knew how to execute each particular song.
Even today, when one wants to dance he orders the musicians to play the song of his choice. Only when he has no preference does he order by the name of the dance. When professional musicians started travelling to play in distant villages, the need arose for a name to call one dance by which many different songs were danced.
Most dances are in open circle moving from the left to the right. The first dancer of the line, he who “pulls the dance”, has the leading role. He orders the song, he pays the musicians and he has the right to improvise variations on the basic step. Traditionally, women rarely led the dance, unless of course it was a women’s dance. A few dances were danced “face to face” by a couple and still fewer followed other formations.


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