Back to basics..
Greek dances are based on a very old tradition being referred to by ancient authors such as Plato, Aristotle and Plutarch. 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. As an example, island dances have more of a "watery" flow to them, while Pontic dances are much more sharp. There are over 4000 traditional dances that come from all regions of Greece!!!
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.
Each Greek dance has it's own history and special tradition, different reason for it's creation and of course, different place of Greek mainland and islands that is mostly danced.
If we take a closer look at each Greek region, we will find very interest rhythms and dances that vary from romance and love, to passion and macho flavors.
Let's take a look in each region :
The dances of the Peloponnese are very simple and heavy, with the leader of the line improvising. The most famous ones include Kalamatianos, Syrtos, Tsakonikos and Diplos.
Central Greece dances
Central Greece has it's own tradition when it comes to dancing. Many dances have their roots in central Greece, but the most common ones have to be Loulouvikos Megarwnand Keistos.
Thracian dance is generally skippy and light. In most Thracian dances, the men are only permitted to dance at the front of the line. The most famous include Hesyrtos, Hasapia, Zonaradikos, Baidouska, Karsilamas, Koulouriastos and Mandilatos.
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. The most important to be noticed are Gaida, Antikristos, Akritikos, Servikos, Nizamikos and Proskinitos.
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. Some of them are Gaitanaki, Kaggeli, Koftos, Pilioritikos and Rougkatsiarikos.
Epirote dances are the most slow and heavy in all of Greece. Great balance is required in order to perform these dances. The most famous among greek people are Tsamikos, Zagorisios, Metsovitikos and Pogonisios.
Aegean islands dances
Just like Crete, the Greek 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. The most important are Ikariotikos, Rhoditiko Pidikto, Samiotiki Sousta, Thumariotikos, Dirlanda, Kefalonitikos Karpathou and Roditikos.
Ionian islands dances
As the dances from Aegean islands, Ionian islands have their style of dances, which are full of energy and inspiration. Some of them are Rouga, Fourlana, Mermigas, Mesaritikos and Thiakos.
These dances are light and jumpy, and extremely cardiovascular. They are full of passion as well as proudness. Some of the main are Sousta, Pentozali, SyrtosHaniotikos, Anogeianos Pidiktos, Aggaliastos and Zervodexios.
The dances from Pontic Greek people are amazing dances that were mostly performed by pontian soldiers in order to motivate themselves before going into a battle. The dances are often accompanied by the Pontian Lyra. The most important are Kotsari, Koussera, Tromahton, Omali Nikopolis, Momoeria and Armatsouk.
Zeibekiko is a Greek folk dance with with a rhythmic pattern of 9/8. The dance may originate from the Zeybek warriors of miidleEast. It is a personal dance where people can express their individuality. Usually just one person at a time dances it.
Zeibekiko dance is very popular among Greek people, and one of the reasons is that through Zeibekiko music and dance, they can express their passion, proudness, anger and any other strong feeling that is difficult to show dancing any other dance.
Zeibekiko dance has no ''basic steps'', like the ones we find in most of the other Greek dances. The dancer dances series of figures, each one last one music phrase of 9/8. Figures come one after another creating a whole choreography.Improvisation is an important part of Zeibekiko dance. The dancer, after he has figured his personal routine that he usually uses during the dance, he always improvises using different steps and rhythmical interpretations depending on his mood, the music and the occasion.
Hasapiko dance is a traditional Greek dance danced in Greek mainland and islands. It's name comes from the word "butcher". The dance originated in the Middle Ages as a battle mime with swords performed by the butchers guild, which adopted it from the military.
Hasapiko isn't a lonely dance such as Zeibekiko. It is to be danced by more than one person at a time. The group forms a line, ''hugging'' each other and performing the same steps at the same time.
Synchronization plays a neutral role on Hasapiko dance. All the dancers must perform the same steps at the same rhythm in order to provide the audience a good result and presentation.
Hasapiko finally, is the base for another famous, if not the most famous Greek dance, the one and the only, Sirtaki.
Sirtaki is a very popular dance of Greek origins, choreographed by Giorgos Provias back in 1964, for the movie ''Zorba the Greek''. It is not actually a traditional Greek folk dance, as the music was written just for the movie by Mikis Theodorakis, and it wasn't exactly a part of Greek traditions. The dance itself is a mixture of slow and fast versions of the Hasapiko dance.
After the movie ''Zorba the Greek'' was played to the cinemas worldwide, Sirtaki became famous all over the world within a very short time. People from all over the world who visited Greece were interested to watch a Sirtaki dance show, or even learn the Sirtaki themselves !!
Sirtaki is still alive in our days as a dance, and has become a part of Greek culture for good. People in Greece, just love it !