Greek dances (horos) is a very old tradition, being referred to by authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and Lucian. There are 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 different smooth flow to them, while Pontic dancing closer to Black Sea, is very sharp. There are over 10 000 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 syrtos, kalamatianos, pyrrhichios, hasapiko and sirtaki. Also Greasy Dancers.
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 usually performed in diaspora Greek communities and among international folk dance groups.
|Music of Greece|
|Media and performance|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||"Hymn to Liberty"|
|Related areas||Cyprus, Pontus, Constantinople, South Italy|
The Aegean islands have dances which are fast in pace and light and jumpy. Many of these dances, however, are couples dances, and not so much in lines. See Nisiotika for more information.
These dances are light and jumpy, and extremely cardiovascular.
Epirote dances are the most slow and heavy in all of Greece. Great balance is required in order to perform these dances.
The dances of the Peloponnese are very simple and heavy, with the leader of the line improvising.
Dances in Macedonia vary. Most are solid and are performed using heavy steps, whilst others are fast and agile. Most dances begin slow and increase in speed.
Dances in Thessaly are similar in style to the dances of Epirus. Mostly heavy, and some are fast. The leader, however, improvises, just like those in the Peloponnese.
Thracian dance is generally skippy and light. In most Thracian dances, the men are only permitted to dance at the front of the line. Musicians and singers such as Hronis Aithonidis and Kariofilis Doitsidis have brought to life the music of Thrace.
The dances of (Northern Thrace) are fast, upbeat and similar to the Thracian style of dance. Dances from the town of Kavakli and Neo Monastiri are the most popular.
The dances of the Pontic Greeks from the Black Sea, were mostly performed by Pontian soldiers in order to motivate themselves before going into a battle. The dances are accompanied by the Pontian lyra, also called kemenche by Turkish people. See Horon for more information on the history of these dances.
Antikristos or Antikrystós (Greek: αντικρυστός χορός) is a dance of Greek origin. “Aντικρυστός” in Greek language refers to the verb αντικρύζω “be across, opposite, face-to-face” (from Ancient Greek ἀντικρύ “vis-à-vis, face-to-face”). It is also known in Armenia. Antikristos, has similarities with karsilamas dance. It is danced in couples.Antipatitis
Antipatitis (Greek: αντιπατητής) is a form of a Greek folk dance from Greek island Karpathos, Greece.Dionysiakos
Dionysiakos (Greek: Διονυσιακός Χορός) is a form of Greek dances and customs from ancient Greece.
Dionysiakos and its forms revived today in many areas of Greece like Peloponnese, central Greece and Crete with the best-known the Phallus festival in the area of Tyrnavos, Larissa.It is a pagan fertility festival in honor of the god of Mount Olympus, Dionysus with customs and activities based on the religion in ancient Greece and is one of the most famous worldwide.Dipat
Dipat is a Greek spiritual dance. It is the second-most popular Pontian dance, behind only the Horon.Gaitanaki
Gaitanaki (Greek: γαϊτανάκι) is a form of a Greek folk dance from Thessaly, Greece. It is a circle dance. It is also very widespread in Epirus.Hasapiko
The hasapiko (Greek: χασάπικο, pronounced [xaˈsapiko], meaning “the butcher's [dance]” from Turkish: 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' guild, which adopted it from the military of the Byzantine era. In Constantinople during the Byzantine times, it was called in Greek μακελλάρικος χορός (makellárikos horós, "butcher's dance", from μακελλάρioς “butcher”). Some Greeks, however, reserve the latter term only for the fast version of the dance.
The slow version of the dance is called χασάπικο βαρύ / χασάπικος βαρύς (hasapiko vary or hasapikos varys, "heavy hasapiko") and generally employs a 44 meter. The fast version of the dance uses a 24 meter. It is variously called γρήγορο χασάπικο (grigoro hasapiko, "fast hasapiko") or χασαποσέρβικο (hasaposerviko), the last two terms in reference to Serbian and other Balkan influences on this version of the dance. The fast version is also called μακελλάριος χορός (makellarios horos),Sirtaki is a relatively new, choreographed version of hasapiko.Horon (dance)
Horon (Greek) or khoron (Turkish: horon), refers to a group of a circle folk dances from the Black Sea region of Turkey.Horos
Horos, khoros, choros (χορός) means "dance" in the Greek language. This word occurs in the names of numerous Greek dances, which may be literally translated as "dance of..." or "dance from...". Sometimes the word may be omitted, e.g., both "Hasapikos choros" ("Dance of butchers") and Hasapiko may be seen in use.Kleistos
Kleistos horos is a circle dance from Thessaly. The dance is performed in a circle with the men leading and the women following in the circle. It is usually exhibited to songs like "San allo de me marane!" The dance has two parts to it, slow and fast, with the handholds being different for each part. Steryios Vlahoyiannis from the Dora Stratou collection sings some great versions of the Kleistos dance.Maniatikos
Maniatikos (Greek: Μανιάτικος), is a local Greek folk dance from Mani, Greece, with a 24 rhythm meter.Metsovitikos (dance)
Metsovitikos (Greek: Μετσοβίτικος xoρός) is a kind of a local folk dance from Metsovo, Greece.Nisiotika
Nisiotika (Greek: νησιώτικα) is the name of the songs and dances of Greek islands including a variety of Greek styles, played by ethnic Greeks in Greece, Cyprus, Australia, the United States and elsewhere.
The Aegean Islands have a well known folk dance tradition, which comes from the dances of ancient Greece like: syrtos, sousta and ballos. The lyre is the dominant folk instrument and other like laouto, violin, askomandoura with Greek characteristics vary widely. In the Aegean, the violin and the Cretan lyra are very widespread Greek musical instruments.
Famous representative musicians and performers of Nisiotika include: Mariza Koch as credited with reviving the field in the 1970s, Yiannis Parios, Domna Samiou, the Konitopouloi family (including Giorgos Konitopoulos, Vangelis Konitopoulos, Eirini Konitopoulou, Nasia and Stella Konitopoulou) and others.
There are also prominent elements of Cretan music on the Dodecanese Islands and Cyclades.
Greek folk dances of Nisiotika include:
Karavas (dance) of Naxos
Pirgousikos of Chios
Ntames (Greek: ντάμες), is a Cretan folk dance from Rethymno, Greece. It is very widespread in Crete. It is danced by couples.Omal
The Omal (also called Duz Horon or Flat Horon) was one of the first Pontic Greek dances to be developed from the region of Pontos. It is a relaxed dance and is danced for long periods of time, usually preluding the tik dance. There are many different melodies for different songs; one of the most famous songs is "Serranda Mila Kokkina" (σεράντα μήλα κόκκινα) (40 red apples). The step count is step-2-3-4, step-2. It is danced hand by hand.Pidikhtos
Pidikhtos (Greek: πηδηχτός), is a Greek folk dance with Cretan origin, dancing in a circle formation. It is very widespread in Crete and the Greek islands.Proskinitos
Proskinitos is a form of a Greek folk dance from Macedonia, Greece.Sirtaki
Sirtaki or syrtaki (Greek: συρτάκι) is a popular dance of Greek origin, choreographed by Giorgos Provias for the 1964 film Zorba the Greek. It is a recent Greek folkdance, and a mixture of the slow and fast rhythms of the hasapiko dance. The dance and the accompanying music by Míkis Theodorakis are also called Zorbá's dance, Zorbas, or "the dance of Zorba".
The name sirtáki comes from the Greek word syrtos – from σύρω (τον χορό), which means "drag (or lead the dance)" -, a common name for a group of traditional Greek dances of so-called "dragging" style, as opposed to pidikhtos (πηδηχτός), a hopping or leaping style. Despite that, sirtaki incorporates both syrtos (in its slower part) and pidikhtós (in its faster part) elements.Sousta
Sousta (Greek: σούστα) is the name of a folk dance in Cyprus and Crete which is danced in Greece and generally in the Balkans. The music is generally played with a lyre (Cretan and Pontian) (or violin), laouto, and mandolin (or askomandoura).
There are elements of eroticism and courtship acted out in the dance, which is usually performed by pairs of men and women dancing opposite. Another form is where all the dancers in a row follow the first dancer who moves in complex patterns. Almost every island of Aegean has a sousta dance.
The origins of sousta come from the ancient pyrrhichios, a martial dance of Greece.Zeibekiko
Zeibekiko (Greek: Ζεϊμπέκικο) is a Greek folk dance.