Greek Dancers of the Monterey Peninsula
Traditional & Modern Greek Dances
Men of the Village Dancers perform the choreographed Hassapiko, called Delphi, at an international festival in Seaside in 1992. From left: Harry Ogden, Chuck Chernoff, Roger Wetmore, Darold Skerritt.
Below you will find information on some of the dances we dance!
Click on the Tsarouxi to find you how to dance each dance!
Click on the camera to see a picture of each dance!
Dance "How-To" introductory materials.
Chiotiko Chiotiko is a simple folk dance from an island in the northeastern Aegean Sea named Chios (sometimes spelled Khios or Hios in English)
Delphi Delphi is a slow Hassapiko dance that our teacher, the late Maxine Myer, learned at Delphi, where the Oracle was located and the spot that the ancient Greeks considered the center of the universe. It is danced to Natane to 21 (It was 1821, the year of the Greek Revolutionary War).
E Trata This dance originated in eastern Megara, on mainland Greece west of Athens. We refer to this as the "fishing net" dance. The steps alternate between "pulling in the nets" and "weaving the nets." Anna Efstathiou of Oakland taught this to us in 1983.
Haniotiko This is a Cretan syrto from the town of Hania (Chania), in western Crete. Anna Efstathiou taught us this dance at her seminar in October 1983.
Hassapiko Hassapiko is a very popular, relatively modern Greek dance, danced to many lovely melodies. It is referred to as a panhellenic dance, which means that it is danced all over Greece. It is often seen in Greek tavernas.
Hassaposerviko This is sometimes called a "fast Hassapiko." It is a lively dance using a shoulder hold.
Ikariotiko Dances As the name implies, these are dances from the Island of Ikaria. We have learned three separate dances from this area, all quite different.
Kalamatiano See Syrto.
Karagouna This dance comes from the plains of Thessaly. Most Greek folk dances are danced in single lines; Karagouna is unusual in that it is a flirtatious couples' dance; in our choreography, the men dance in a line behind the women's line. In the days before dating, young people might meet and dance in the village square after church, to get acquainted.
Karsilima This is a couple dance, danced face-to-face. Couple dances are quite rare in Greek folk dancing.
Kastrinos Kastrinos is danced in Heraklion on the island of Crete; that town used to be called Kastro. Anna Efstathiou taught us this dance at her seminar in October 1983.
Kostantakis This dance technically is a Zagorissios, that is, a dance from the Zagori, which are mountainous villages north of Ioannia on the Greek mainland. These isolated villages have remained virtually unchanged throughout the centuries, and their dances are unique. This is a stately, masculine dance, with strong, slow, and deliberate movements.
Kotchari Kotchari is a very vigorous (and difficult) Pontic dance. "Kotch" means "heel" in the Pontic dialect. Several of the dance figures feature dancers landing on their heels after a jump. The Pontic people were Greeks who colonized outside Greece in the Black Sea area during Turkish rule. Many later returned to the area north of Thessaloniki. We learned this dance from Anna Efstathiou in February 1983.
Kritiko Syrto Kritiko Syrto means Syrto from Crete. There are many variations to the dance; every village does it slightly differently. The choreography we use for performances has been developed for a specific piece of Cretan music.
Laziko Laziko is a vigorous Pontic dance, originally from an area near the Black Sea that no longer is part of Greece. In our choreography the men dance in one line and the women in two lines, forming a "C" shaped line. Some of the steps are different for the men than for the women. We learned this from Anna Efstathiou in February 1983.
Lefkaditiko Lefkaditiko alternates between a slow, stately step and a very fast step. This dance originated on the island of Lefkada.
Lorke-Lorke This is an Armenian dance we learned from Anna Efstathiou in 1987. The song starts out with the words Ginega, Ginega, which translates as Woman, Woman. The Greek word for woman is very similar, gyneka.
Menousis This is a rarely seen dance from the mountains of Epiros.
Misirlou This is an American Greek folk dance, much more familiar in this country than in Greece. However, it is based on steps used in Cretan syrtos, and is danced to Greek music that has especially sensuous rhythm.
This off page link will tell you more than you probably ever wanted to know about the Misirlou music!
Never on Sunday This music probably was the first introduction to Greek music for most Americans, when used as the theme for the 1960 Melina Mercouri movie Never on Sunday.
Pentozali This very vigorous dance was used to help keep the Cretan soldiers in shape. Orchestras often play Kritiko Syrto and Pentozali back-to-back.
Pogonissios This dance is from an area in northern Greece called Pogoni. The dance alternates between a slow step that features knee bends and arms aloft and a faster syrto step. This is another dance from Anna Efstathiou's February 1983 seminar.
Sweet Girl Sweet Girl is an Armenian dance popular in California. It is a typical Armenian line dance, in an open circle. Hands are joined with the little fingers interlocked and held at shoulder height. Its repetitive nature makes it an especially relaxing, meditative dance.
Syrto The syrto is the most popular dance throughout Greece, and is danced by Greek-Americans at all festive gatherings. Syrto and kalamatiano use the same dance steps, but the syrto is in 3/4 time and the kalamatiano is in 7/8 time.
Syrto Kefallinias This dance is from the island of Kefallinia in the Ionian Sea. Although most of the Greek islands originally were under the control of the Ottoman Turks, Kefallinia was ruled by the Venetians for several centuries. Thus this dance has a springy, almost Italian quality. This is a dance we learned from Ted Sofias in 1988.
Syrto Pyleas This dance is from a village in Macedonia called Pyleas. This is another dance Anna Efstathiou taught in February 1983. We call one of the variations "arm aloft," as dancers raise their arms rhythmically over their heads and back down again.
Tamsara This is an Armenian dance that can be danced to various pieces of music. Here we dance it to a Greek song called Rampee-Rampee. We learned this version from Maxine Myer.
Thessaloniki This soulful Hassapiko, written and played by the music group Zig-Zag, has been choreographed by Pat Bates especially for the Greek Village Dancers. Styling is quite different from other Hassapikoi done by the group. It was first performed in public at the Monterey Greek Festival on September 4, 1999.
Tsamiko Tsamiko is an ancient warrior dance, in which the leader would perform energetic leaps. Today it is danced by both men and women all over Greece and the United States.
Zagorissios This is a typical dance from the Zagori, which are mountainous villages north of Ioannia on the Greek mainland. This slow, stately dance is similar to Kostantakis, but is danced to different music and with different variations.
Zonoradiko We have learned four versions of this dance from northern Greece, and perform two of them. In one, taught to us by Anna Efstathiou in 1985, dancers form two opposing lines. Another, taught to us by Ted Sofias in 1988, features a running step that really moves the line around. Zonoradiko means dance of the belt, and sometimes these are danced while holding on to the next person's belt.. We use a basket hold for the versions we perform, since not all of our costumes have belts!. The dance originally was done by men wearing baggy pants called Vrakas. This influenced the styling of the basic step.
Zorba This is a Syrtaki dance, starting out with a very slow Hassapiko step then growing faster and faster - ending in a lively Hassaposerviko. This dance is choreographed for performance with the most popular piece of Greek music in this country, the theme from the movie Zorba the Greek, written by the noted Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis.