greek dancingAncient Greece is defined as a period in Greek history which approximately started from the 8th century BC and lasted until the 6th century AD. Greek culture greatly influenced the Roman Empire and is believed to provide the foundation of Western civilization. Certain facets of Greek culture have survived to this day. Among them is Greek dancing.

Greek dancing is an integral part of Greek culture and is usually done during celebrations and weddings. Originally, the ancient Greeks danced as a tribute to Rhea, the Greek goddess of the earth. Dancing was also held by the ancient Greeks for educational purposes. The Greek dance has its roots in mythology. It is said that Rhea asked the kourites (seven armed but good-tempered, giant, half-gods) to dance around a cave where she hid her son Zeus so that Kronos won’t hear him cry, discover him, and eat him. Needless to say, Rhea’s plan worked and Zeus lived to dethrone his father Kronos. The kourites became priests and passed down these dances to their descendants as part of religious ceremonies.

Greek dances have been preserved through time because the Greeks simply love to dance. The efforts of local cultural organizations also play a big part in preserving their cultural heritage through these dances. Often, these dances are part of the regional customs and are handed down from generation to generation. The most common Greek dance is the zorba. Along with the kalamatianos and the tsamikos, all three are regarded as panhellenic, which means all Greek.

The Greek dancing performed today have a lot of similarities to the ancient Greek dances from which they originated. One example is the use of handkerchiefs during the dance. The handkerchief is held by the dancers instead of each other’s hands. Dancing in a line or circle is still done in these modern times too. Often the lines would get quite long and proper etiquette should be observed if you want to join in the Greek dancing.

The dance line moves generally to the right and the person on the end with their right hand free is the leader. Greek dancing is a matter of following the leader. Most of the time, it’s easier said than done. Some dance steps are very simple and even a klutz like me can join in. Other dance steps are decidedly more intricate, with dozens of variations. The leader may signal the next dance move with his/her hand but if not, you need to watch the leader’s feet.

Anyone may join in the Greek dancing as long as you don’t join it from the right-hand end. It’s the beginning of the line and in doing so; you’ll be taking the place of the leader of the dance. Always join from the left-hand side which is the end of the line. You may even cut in the middle of the line as long as you’re confident enough in your ability to keep up with the dance steps. What’s great about Greek dancing is that some dances have no fixed steps, and as long as you’re having fun, you’re doing just fine.