Did someone say dance?
OPA!! Welcome to the Greek Festival. Here you will witness a variety of traditional Greek folk dances performed by our dance groups. The suite of dances will consist of Pan-Hellenic dances (danced throughout Greece with regional variances) and dances from the mainland and islands.
The most popular form of the Greek folk dance is the open circle, with regular hand hold position, moving counter-clockwise. Next is the straight line with arms on shoulders of adjacent dancers. The third form is the curved-line dance with the basket-weave hold.
Dances You May Have Seen
Kalamatiano is a type of Syrto. A Syrto is a dance that means dragging or pulling, and is an ancient type of dance. A popular misconception is that is originated in Kalamata; however, it is said to have originated from a song about Kalamata. Kalamata was known for its handkerchiefs made of Kalamata silk, during the Byzantine Empire, and used to separate the dancers’ hands. It is the national dance of Greece and is traditionally danced as the first dance at a Greek celebration. Variations vary from village to village.
Hassapiko was the dance of the Butcher’s Guild of Constantinople during the Byzantine period. Then, the Hassapiko was known as Makellarikos, from the “pure” word for butcher. The dance remained popular for many years in western Asia Minor and some islands until 1922, and then was absorbed by the rembetika music (“Underground” songs during the wars and Great Depression) and became Pan-Hellenic. Usually there are two parts of the dance, one slow and one fast.
Tsamiko is a Pan-Hellenic dance that can be traced back to the Greek War of Independence. It is thought to be originally from Epirus, which is in Northwestern Greece. It is traditionally a men’s dance performed with different acrobatic skills. The Hassapiko is an opportunity for the dancer to show his capabilities. Women today dance the Tsamiko, but they do not perform the acrobatic stunts. Instead, women daintily perform the basic steps and a few variations.
Greek Folk Dance is an art that is well preserved. Throughout the United States and within Greek communities, Greek dance is revered as a tie to our culture, traditions, history and religion. Every dance is a celebration of Hellenic spirit.