How to dance like a Greek!

How to dance like a Greek!

Besides eating, gossiping, and playing Tavli, Greeks love to dance. The Greek word for dance is Horos, khoros, chorosχορός and I have many memories from my childhood, hearing Greek relatives yell ‘Horepsi!’ to each other.

In Ancient Greece, song and dance were inseparable parts of celebration and theatre, and dance has long been a traditional part of any Greek social function. Dancing brings the community together at key points of the year, such as Easter, festivals and especially weddings.

Many Greek villages have a flat site where dances, weddings and other events take place – these areas are known as chorostasi/horostasi (Χοροστάσι), which roughly translates as “threshing floor” i.e. at the end of harvesting, wheat was threshed and the area left clean and empty hence a natural place for celebration.

There are different interpretations and styles of Greek dance throughout the islands and mainland areas, for example, island dances have more of a “watery” flow to them.

There are over 4000 traditional dances that come from all regions of Greece, including Pan-Hellenic dances which have been adopted throughout the Greek world.

One of the most popular dances is the Syrtos dance which, along with the Kalamatianos dance, is very popular at social gatherings and religious festivals. Both dances are line dances, and involve the dancers holding hands in a curving line, facing right. The dancer at the right end of the line is the leader and may often also be a solo performer, improvising skilful moves and plenty of slapping of the thighs as the rest of the line does the basic step.

Dancers in traditional dress

Dancers in traditional dress

Pairs of dancers may also hold a handkerchief from its two sides. In other variants, all dancers are connected in line with a scarf or handkerchief. At my wedding, my father  danced with a handkerchief that belonged to my Papou; a very meaningful moment for my father.

You start the Syrtos dance with your feet together and travel to the right:

Starting Position. Feet together facing obliquely Right.
Step Tempo Traveling Step to the Right. Begin on right foot.
1 slow Step to the Right on the right foot.
2 quick Step to the Right on the left foot slightly behind right.
3 quick Step to the Right on the right foot.
Continue Traveling Step to the Right. Begin on left foot.
4 slow Step to the Right on the left foot in-front of right.
5 quick Step to the Right on the right foot alongside left
6 quick Step to the Right on the left foot in-front of right.

Confused? If in doubt, just skip to the right – it looks pretty much the same.

My father is a great dancer, and never misses an opportunity to show off his moves.

You can find out more about how to dance all the different styles at this website: Greek Dances or alternatively, I am sure my father would be more than happy to teach Greek dance lessons from the garage to anyone who wants them!

OPA!

Advertisements
Share:

10 Comments

  1. 3rd July 2014 / 9:09 am

    Is that you as a baby??? Omigosh… that is adorable. Great video and great post!

    • 3rd July 2014 / 9:10 am

      Yup I was cute once upon a time!

  2. 20th May 2014 / 8:22 pm

    This is an amazing piece..bravo for being Greek and proud! 🙂

    • 20th May 2014 / 8:27 pm

      Haha efharistou Basil! Btw book two is now in development…

  3. 17th May 2014 / 1:04 am

    Your father is in great shape, Ekaterina ! – most blokes of his age have rolls around their middles and couldn’t dance to save their lives. Please pass on my compliments: your mum must be proud of him. 🙂
    I love this whole Greek thing of enjoying life – it’s infectious !

    • 17th May 2014 / 7:57 am

      He just doesn’t eat anything anymore! Smashing plates and having hulk rages keeps him too busy!

  4. 16th May 2014 / 12:45 pm

    I tripped doing your chart, do better in my dreams. I spent much time with the Greek culture staright out of high school, but I thought Retsina tasted like paint thinner and Feta like a sour stomach. Hopefully I have progressed from that place.

    • 16th May 2014 / 1:26 pm

      Haha I can just imagine you tripping over after downing the Retsina!

Leave a Reply