Traditional Greek dance lesson

Jan Sanders Regional Director of Mediterranean Programs


July 13, 2020

One of the most popular student activities during a face-to-face semester is always the class on traditional Greek dances. These are not merely relics of some bygone era; everyone knows at least a few of them! And even the most staid Greek - which is really a contradiction in terms! - comes to life at a Greek wedding when the musicians start to play the Hasapiko.

This summer, our virtual class on traditional Greek dances was, we admit, a bit of a challenge because the music, when played over Zoom, was unrecognizable. Athens faculty member Myrto Malamou, worked with our Petros Santamouris to create a virtual dance lesson. Myrto introduced these dances:

Χασαποσέρβικο / Hasaposerviko, a dance from what once was Greek Asia Minor, now the western seaboard of Turkey. The bouzouki, a large bellied string instrument, is the main musical accompaniment.

Καλαματιανός / Kalamatianos is a popular dance, often referred to as Συρτός / Syrtos. It seems to have its roots in antiquity. Some ancient vases are decorated with dancers moving in a way that suggests the  Kalamatianos. The name Kalamatianos indicates its modern origin from the city of Kalamata in the Peloponnese, or southern Greece. 

Χασάπικο (Συρτάκι) / Hasapiko, more commonly known as the Syrtaki, is a relatively modern invention made famous in the movie Zorba the Greek. You can watch Anthony Quinn’s Zorbas teach the young Englishman Basil how to do the Syrtaki at about 2 minutes into this video

The photographs in this post were shot in 2017 by photographer and friend Petros Dellatolas, @petrosdellatolas