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Pontic Dances: Pontos is a region in Northeast Asia Minor that Greeks inhabited for 2,500 years until 1922 when the Turks made them immigrate away from all Asia Minor. The Pontic refugees settled in eastern Macedonia and western Thrace and brought their dances with them. Small, quick, precise steps, arm swings, syncopated knee bends, and abrupt pauses characterize Authentic Pontic dance. This style is especially apparent in Serra, a men’s dance. The rhythm of these dances is very difficult and it is important that the dancers dance as a unit; kinetic distinction is not centered on the lead dancer. The leader calls out guttural sounds, which are signals to the dancers. The music of Pontos is characterized by the sound of the Pontic lyra or lyre, which is sometimes accompanied by the large drum or daouli.
Sarigouz: A Turkish word, Sari = Blond, Gouz = Girl. They call it the dance of reaping. It is found in different variations in most parts of Pontos.
Kotsari: A dance from the city of Kars in the eastern part of Pontos. Kotsari means "ankle bone" in the Pontic dialect, referring to the lifting of the ankle in several steps. Unlike most Pontic dances, the Kotsari is in an even rhythm (2/4). It was originally danced in a closed circle, but today is usually danced in an open circle or, for performances, in a straight line and in place.
Tik mono: Tik was known throughout Pontos (see Kotsari, above) and is still the most popular dance in
Pontos. There are two versions of the dance, single and double, but the single version is rarely danced. When the rhythm is faster and the style more agitated, Pontics call the dance Tik Tromachton (trembling).
Dances from Thrace (Northern Greece): Thrace is a region of northeastern Greece. Dances of Thrace are predominantly circle dances in which the men dance at the front of the line followed by the women. Thracians prefer music and dance of a relatively quick and brisk tempo. Diversity of handhold positions is particularly characteristic. Their dance lines tend to move as a unit without highly developed leadership improvisations. The music of Thrace is characterized by the high-
Stis Tris: means "in threes." Each dance set is composed of three parts of four steps each. The arms are held down and move in a synchronized motion with the steps.
Zonaradiko: The basic dance of Thrace, originally danced by old men but today also by youth and women. It does not follow the same sequence as the older days where men dance in front of the line and the women in back. The name comes from "zonari" simply "zoni" in some dialects meaning belt; the standard handhold for the dance is hand-
Baidoushka: Before the liberation of northern Greece and southern Bulgaria from Turkish control, dances passed back and forth between Greeks and Bulgarians quite often. Baidoushka spread from Bulgaria not only to Greek Macedonia and Thrace but also as far north as Romania. In Bulgaria, baidoushka describes a class of dances, much like "pidikhto" or "syrto" in Greek. The meaning of the name is uncertain, but is probably from the Bulgarian word for "limping."
Dendristi: Dance from Thrace with the two beginning step combination involves syncopations following by a concurrent arm swing and then four backwards steps.
Mantilatos: Hand hold free couples dance. Taking its name form the word “mantilia”, dancers can hold handkerchiefs while they are dancing. This dance is usually danced at weddings. Dancers can face each other or follow each other.
Xesyrtos: Typical dance from this region. The two beginning step combinations involve syncopations followed by arm swing and side step.
Karagouna: Karagouna is a popular dance from Thessaly. The inhabitants are called Karagounides. There are many popular songs for the dance, and many are about a Karagouna girl. "When you marry, what wonderful things you'll see. You'll kiss, you'll embrace, and then you will become bored!" The dance begins with a slow part in 4/4 time, distinguishable by a series of pointing steps. At the end, the song immediately switches to a fast 2/4, and the dance concludes with the mainland syrto (Kalamatiano). Although we do it as a women's dance, it is actually a mixed dance.
Koftos: Found in Epirus, parts of Thessaly, and (in a slightly different version) the island of Levkada. The first six steps of the Kalamatiano repeat themselves four times, but at the end of the fourth time, the music stops suddenly ("koftos" means cut, stopped, or interrupted) and the dancers pause in place and raise their hands above their heads.
Kalamatiano: The Kalamatiano was the popular syrto in the south because the south was liberated first; it became the national dance and spread elsewhere. It is not from Kalamata, but is named after a song about Kalamata. Kalamatiano has become a national dance.
Tsamiko: This dance is probably named for the Tsames in Epirus. Some say that it is named after the clothes of the Klepthes, the mountain fighters in the Greek War of Independence. Men usually dance it, but certain version can be dance with both men and women.
Aegean Island Dances:
Mixanikos: Mixanikos is the name of the diver in the island of Kalymnos, an Aegean Island, which dives deep to collect sponges. The diving becomes very dangerous with the fear of paralysis. This dance signifies an almost paralyzed diver that although he feels sore and he needs the support of a cane to keep him up, the upbeat music brings him back to life. Men only dance it.
Ionian Island Dances:
Kefalonikos Ballos: It’s one of the most popular dances in the Island of Kefalonia. It is seen with many alternative variations musical and chorographical.
Manetas: A Kefalonian island dance from Pylaros that is said that it took its name from a sailor.
Cretan Dances: The traditional Cretan dances constitute an expression of the bravery and dynamism of Cretan character and were highly influenced by the island’s history. The turns of Siganos are reminiscent of Theseus’ convolutions in the maze. The dancers have their arms intertwined at shoulder level and take small steps. As the lyre-
Cretan Syrto: This dance originated in the city of Khania in western Crete and is thus known on Crete as Khaniotikos. The steps of the original version may be done either left-
Malevyziotiko/Kastrino Pidikhto/Irakliotiko: This dance takes its 3 names from its origin in central Crete. It comes from the city of Iraklio, known to the Venetians as Kastro, which is located in the district of Malevyzi. Other regions of Crete have their own variations. The rhythm is a very fast 2/4 and the dance is almost frantic. The dancers cut into the circle at a rightward angle with eight large steps and then come straight back out with eight smaller steps, the same pattern in reverse.
Cretan Sousta: Formerly a war dance, the Sousta is a dance of love and passion. The male dances opposite his female adversary, and tries to entice her with steps full of longing, with promises, lively gestures, and quick, burning glances. The woman dances with small, delicate steps, and graceful and gentle movements of her hands and her head. She gives him quick, passionate glances that one moment repel him and the next moment give him hope. In Greek, Sousta means spring, and this dance took its name from the springing movements in the dancers' steps.
Pentozali: Originally from Rethimno in Crete, it has become the most popular dance among Cretan dances. It is now pan-
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