Greek dances

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Greek dance (choros; Greek: χορός, romanizedchorós) is an old tradition, being referred to by authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and Lucian.[1] 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 the 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 specifically the Syrtos, Kalamatianos, Pyrrhichios, Ballos, Zeibekiko, and hasapiko.

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.[2]

Greek dances are performed also in diaspora Greek communities among international folk dance groups.

Ancient Greek dances[edit]

God Pan and a Maenad dancing. Ancient Greek red-figured olpe from Apulia, ca. 320–310 BCE. Pan's right hand fingers are in a snapping position.
Women dancing. Ancient Greek bronze, 8th century BCE, Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

In Ancient Greece, dance was a form of ritual, as well as a pastime.[3] Dance could be included in hunting communities, initiation ceremony rituals of age, marriage, and death, entertainment, dance festivals, and religious activity.[4] It was also viewed as a way to educate children about social norms and morals, and was viewed as being essential for physical and emotional development.[5] Dance was used in regard to war as a form of military training, as well as a ritual that served as a mediator between the gods and humans.[6][7] What modern times may consider a parade, military drill, funeral, children’s game, these were seen as forms of dance as long as they were meant to be an exhibition of a rhythmic performance.[8] Suda mention an ancient Greek dance which was called Dipodia (Διποδία), meaning two-step/two-footer.[9]

Modern and regional dances[edit]

Aegean Islands[edit]

Folk dancers from Thasos, 1958
Greek dancers, Belmont, California
Dancers from Patmos island
Dancers from Astypalaia

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.

Dance group in Sydney performing dances of Aegean islands


Cretan dancers

These dances are light and jumpy, and extremely cardiovascular.

Central Greece[edit]


Pogonisios steps

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.

Ionian Islands[edit]

Corfiot peasant dance (1906)


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 with slow, heavy movements. However, there are some dances that are also faster paced. The leader can improvise in these dances similarly to those dances from the Epirus, Central Greece and 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 Chronis Aidonidis and Kariofilis Doitsidis have brought to life the music of Thrace.

Northern Thrace / Eastern Thrace[edit]

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 the Pontic 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. Also included are dances traditionally performed by Caucasus Greeks and Greeks in Ukraine. See Horon for more information on the history of these dances.

Asia Minor[edit]


Griko (Southern Italy)[edit]




Greek dancing in the United States[edit]

Within the United States, Greek Americans participate in Greek dancing in order to preserve their heritage and culture. Greeks of all ages can be seen showcasing their skills at Greek Festivals which take place year round, often hosted by Greek Orthodox churches, or at various competitions in which groups practice dances from specific parts of Greece in order to perform in front of judges.

Greek Orthodox Folk Dance and Choral Festival (FDF)[edit]

Since 1976, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco has held a convention that allows Greek Dance groups from various churches in the Pacific Region of the United States to compete. Up to 3,000 people participate annually and it is described as the largest youth ministry program in the Metropolis of San Francisco.[10] Within the competition, there are four divisions, two of which are judged and two of which are exhibition suites. Division I and Division II are judged by a table of judges who have done years of research in Greece and instructed others on the styling and other important elements of Greek dancing. Each competing team will be placed into a division and group based on the average age of the team.[11] Each team performs two times and perfected suites that can be from many places in Greece (islands, mainland, villages) and feature many different dances. The judges will score the teams based on their costumes, singing, stage presence, styling, and how closely it resembles the region that their suite is from.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Raftis, Alkis, The World of Greek Dance Finedawn, Athens (1987) p25.
  2. ^ Raftis, Alkis, The World of Greek Dance Finedawn, Athens(1987) p117.
  3. ^ Fitton, J.W. “Greek Dance”. The Classical Quarterly, vol. 23, no. 2, 1973, pp. 254.
  4. ^ Fitton, J.W. “Greek Dance”. The Classical Quarterly, vol. 23, no. 2, 1973, pp. 254-255.
  5. ^ Lawler, Lillian Brady. “The Dance in Ancient Greece”. The Classical Journal, vol. 42, no. 6, 1947, pp. 344-346.
  6. ^ Lawler, Lillian Brady. “The Dance in Ancient Greece”. The Classical Journal, vol. 42, no. 6, 1947, pp. 344.
  7. ^ Vesterinen, Manna. “Communicative Aspects of Ancient Greek Dance”. ARCTOS, vol. 31, 1998, pp. 181.
  8. ^ Lawler, Lillian Brady. “The Dance in Ancient Greece”. The Classical Journal, vol. 42, no. 6, 1947, pp. 345-346.
  9. ^ Suda, delta, 1263
  10. ^ "FDF 2020". Your FDF. Retrieved 2020-02-19.
  11. ^ McGuire, Tim. "FDF Categories". Your FDF. Retrieved 2020-02-19.

External links[edit]

Video Examples of Regional Greek Dances