Traveling is a way to experience all that life has to offer. We love to enjoy the music, the dance, the culture, and food! Knowing a little about what you are seeing is a great way to enjoy the experience even more – especially for children. Dance has long been an important part of the cultural fabric of Greece.
The Greeks love to dance! Opa means, “Get up! Let’s dance!” Greek dances have been around for a long, long time! Plato, the ancient philosopher wrote about them. Imagine taking part in something with such history!
Plato and Socrates agreed,
“every educated man should know how to dance gracefully”
Each area of Greece has its own dance.
There are as many as 10,000 traditional dances. Seeing a show is the best way to enjoy them along with the fantastic costumes.
Dances often have men in a line dancing near a line of women. Commonly married men lead and bachelors follow – the same for women and the lines starts with the oldest first. Sometimes women carry a handkerchief…back in the old days the man dancing next to her would hold her handkerchief instead of her hand while dancing in a line.
Kids learn to dance in school. Isn’t that a great idea? What a great way to teach the kids an important part of their culture and assure that it will live on. No one sits on the sidelines here because they all learned to dance as kids! Brilliant.
Want to give it a try? Youtube is full of dance videos!! Turn on the music and get in the spirit for your Greek adventure!
OPA – Traditional Dance
Elementary school-aged kids dancing a traditional Greek dance. Love the plate ‘tossing’ at the end. LOL!
By the way…once upon a time, smashing plates was an ancient custom of mourning or a way to display wealth by smashing plates rather than washing them.
It was outlawed in 1969 though it still happens occasionally. Now plaster plates, which break more easily and are less expensive may be used. Some taverns are using flowers to throw at the singers. It still is seen is lots of movies though!!
OPA – Sirtaki Dance
Look at the passion of these little girls!! I love their intensity. Youtube video of the Sirtaki Dance. (national dance)
OPA – Hasapiko
Youtube video a ‘how to’ of the Hasapiko dance. Watch the Hasapiko dance here on youtube – a blast from the past with this old movie scene.
According to Greek Boston, which has a lot of cool ‘how to’ videos, this is a modern dance and not a traditional folk dance.
OPA – Traditional Dance from the island of Corfu
Youtube video of traditional dance from the island of Corfu.
OPA – Traditional Dance from the island of Santorini
Watch the youtube video on traditional dance on the island of Santorini. This dance involves a lot of stomping and has a very different sound from the others! I love the dress, too!
OPA – Peloponnesian Dance
Watch this youtube video on a traditional dance from the Peloponnese area of Greece. This dance is all male and they are wearing the military dress uniform. What is your interpretation of this dance?
We barely had time to stick our toe onto the Peloponnese part of Greece and would love to go back for more. We had a wonderful guide and enjoyed the day visit to ancient Corinth.
OPA – Tsamiko Wedding Dance
I can’t imagine being lucky enough to see one of these wedding dances in person, but it is fun to watch! Watch the youtube video of the Tsamiko Wedding Dance.
The two dances you’ll most likely see on your adventure in Greece:
OPA – Zeibekiko
This traditional dance was originally a solo and it was danced to honor the Greek gods.
The name comes from the Zeibke warriors of Anatolia or a combination of Zie (from the god Zeus) and bekos which means bread. Wherever the name comes from, this is a dance of bravado and often includes feats like standing on a chair or picking up a table!
Enjoy this popular dance if you get the chance. Get in the spirit with this video from Zeibekiko Toronto.
The zeibekiko doesn’t have choreography or steps per se, instead, the dancer expresses ‘the despair of life, the unfulfilled dream, the longing, the affliction.” He opens his arms and dances in a small space with ‘humbly and with dignity.”
OPA – Kalamatianos Dance
This national dance of Greece hails from the Peloponnesus area and is seen at the start of many festivals and weddings. It began in the south of Greece.
Learn how to for this circle dance in this video from Greek Boston. Watch until the end to see the wonderful traditional costumes!
Greece is a highlight of any traveler’s dreams. We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to go back. Enjoy a wonderful part of the Greek culture with music and dance – before, during, or after a Greek vacation.
Natalie, The Educational Tourist