“Some feelings cannot be expressed in words, Master. They may only be danced! Opa!”
Powerful words by a famous fictional character forever immortalized by Hollywood, Zorba the Greek!
Indeed, dancing has been part of the Greek culture and spirit since the dawn of History. Greece counts over 4,000 traditional dances spread across all regions and folk dancing is as alive today as it was in ancient times!
Usually performed at weddings, birthdays, festivals and holidays, dancing is the single most important social function that brings the community together and lets people express themselves!
As the saying goes, no one parties like the Greeks! You don’t have to be Greek though to share the experience!
Whether you are a dance aficionado or simply enjoy the occasional dance, all you have to do is visit Greece and we will take care of the rest!
Let us design your holidays around the unique dancing experiences offered across different regions in Greece!
Here are some options to consider:
Pentozali dance - Island of Crete
Very energetic, Pentozali is a fast-paced dance that originated in Crete. Involving a line formation where dancers hold onto one another at the shoulders, it is led by a lead dancer who can perform variations as he pleases, while the remaining dancers follow the basic steps. While the tempo is rather moderate at first, it progresses into a faster pace, which is translated into more intricate moves from the lead dancer.
Not to worry though, you won’t have any trouble following his lead! By the time you decide to join, you shall have toasted to the famous Cretan raki enough times to feel like an expert! Cretan hospitality at its best!
Ikariotikos dance – Ikaria Island
Part of the nisiotika (island) dances, which contain dances and songs from the Aegean islands, Ikariotikos is a traditional dance from the world-famous island of longevity, Ikaria, in the northeastern Aegean Sea. While the dance was, in the beginning, a slow dance, the modern version of the Ikariotikos is much faster. Performed in an open circle by men and women holding hands at shoulder height, the dance includes three parts. In the first, dancers perform slow walking steps, while in the second part, the pace quickens to reach the third section, where the quick steps showcase the agility of the body and legs.
That will probably be your only chance to experience anything fast-paced on this beautiful Aegean island generally known for its relaxed atmosphere and peacefulness. There are two good reasons why Ikarians live long: amazing food and an aversity to watches! We dare you to find a local wearing a watch!
Kalamatianos dance - The Peloponnese
Arguably Greece’s most popular folk dance, the Kalamatianos is danced in a circle with dancers holding hands. A festive dance at heart, the Κalamatianos has roots that date all the way back to antiquity in the early writings of Homer, while the name derives from the city of Kalamata, located in the stunning Peloponnese. Best danced to live music, this could be one of the most exhilarating dancing experiences of your life!
Vibrant Kalamata is only a couple of hours drive from Athens and offers immaculate sandy beaches, picturesque rocky villages, amazing hotels, two 18-hole golf courses and a rich history to keep you busy for weeks! Ancient Sparta, King Agamemnon’s Palace and the stadium of the ancient Olympic Games are all only a short drive away!
Tsamiko dance - Epirus
A dance strictly performed by men in the past, the Τsamiko (or Κleftiko) is another Pan-Hellenic traditional dance, particularly popular in Epirus, the most mountainοus region of Greece. Following a strict tempo, the dance is not heavily choreographed, rather follows the steps of the lead dancer. The latter is leading a ring formation of dancers holding hands at a 90-degree angle and performs leaps and squats, depending on the melody, rhythm and his mood! When both women and men dance the tsamiko, they form two concentric circles, men dancing in the outer circle and women in the inner circle.
Undeniably elemental to this beautiful dance is the sound of the clarinet, a musical instrument beloved in the charming mountain villages of the Zagori Gorge. Beautiful all year round, the so called Zagorohoria offer a plethora of activities, such as hiking, rafting, skiing and horse-back riding, boutique hotels and endless delicacies to feast on!
Sirtaki dance – Athens
Sirtaki, sometimes also spelled Syrtaki, is probably one of the most famous Greek dances known across the world. However, only a few people know that Sirtaki is a contemporary dance dating back to as late as the 1960s! Even fewer people may know that the eminent Greek musician Mikis Theodorakis created the dance for the Hollywood blockbuster, Zorba the Greek. This highly entertaining dance emerged by alternating slow and fast steps from the hasapiko and hasaposerviko dances. Its most distinctive characteristic is its accelerating pace, moving from a 4/4 tempo to a 2/4 pace. It is danced in a line or in a circle formation, with hands resting on the next dancer’s shoulders. The music is exhilarating to say the least!
Few experiences in life are as uplifting as the sirtaki, probably the reason why it is elemental to the Athenian night life! Danced in tavernas, live entertainment joints and even night clubs, we guarantee that you will have many chances to participate! After all Athens, Greece’s capital and largest city, is world-famous not just for its world-defining history and jaw-dropping landmarks, but also for its vibrant and out-going character and never-ending nightlife!
Hasapiko dance – Thessaloniki
Hasapiko is a traditional dance with Byzantine roots from Constantinople. It originated in the Middle Ages as a battle dance performed by butchers usually holding swords (hence the name which in Greek means “the butcher’s dance”). Hasapiko, similarly to Sirtaki that was inspired by it, progresses from a slow to a faster pace, the faster paced version also called Hasaposerviko or Serbian hasapiko, a clear reference to its Balkan influences. Hasapiko is performed in a line or in an open circle formation, with dancers touching at shoulder height, just like in the Sirtaki.
Should you want to live the experience, Thessaloniki is the place to be!
Reigning over Northern Greece, Thessaloniki is a gem of a city offering an atmosphere so unique that it is almost impossible to put in words. Be it the people, the landscape, the long history dating back all the way to Alexander the Great or the laidback aura, Greece’s second biggest city is by far the most popular city destination amongst Greeks across the world!
Zeibekiko dance – Santorini Island
Contrary to most of the dances presented here, Zeibekiko is not a dance performed in a group and is, therefore, a difficult dance to choreograph and learn; it doesn’t follow a routine and it is undeniably the most moody of the lot! Originally a dance performed by two armed men facing one another, it slowly developed into an improvised dance for men. Also known as the “eagle dance,” Zeibekiko is performed with wide-open arms and certainly has a strong intensity and masculinity to it! Nowadays, zeibekiko has lost a bit of its tragic aspect and is customarily performed by men (and sometimes women) at weddings and other social gatherings.
Santorini Island is by far the most popular wedding destination in Greece, however you need not be marrying to visit Europe’s most photographed destination!
You may enjoy the mesmerizing sunset, the breathtaking views over the caldera and a glass of mouth-watering Vinsanto wine any time of the year!
Santorini remains a popular year-round destination, whatever the occasion!