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The Traditional Dances of Crete

Dances provide the most authentic evidence of the continuity of Crete't popular tradition and rhythm. Cretans may dance for hours at most social events, weddings, christenings, festivities, celebrations etc.

Often dances take the form of competition in stamina and bravery. Most importantly, however, they provide an outlet for the discharge of suppressed feelings. In short, dances are part of life in Crete.

The revival and dissemination of dances between 1945 - 1975 is mainly an achievement of self - taught performers from the mountainous areas of the island. The contributions of Stamatis Papadakis, Michalis Lefakis, Antonis Stephanakis, Thanasis Stavrakakis, Thomas Chnaris and Orestis Sarris are undeniable.

Today there are five, clearly distinct types of dances in Crete. However, there are more, but of local significance.

SYRTOS or CHANIOTIKOS: A circle dance popular all around Crete particularly in Rethymnon and Chania. Dancers hold arms to the height of shoulders. The dance comprises 12 steps.

MALEVIZIOTIKOS or KASTRINOS PIDICHTOS: A lively back and forth dance popular in eastern and central Crete. It is danced with arms interlinked at the height of shoulders. It comprises 16 steps.

SIGANOS PANTOZALIS: A sedate swinging dance with arms interlinked on each dancers shoulders. It is popular all over Crete. It is usually danced during wedding celebrations and it is known as the dance of the bride. The dance comprises 8 steps.

GRIGOROS PENTOZALIS: A lively swinging circle dance with each dancer's arms interlinked at the shoulder. It is popular all over Crete. This dance usually follows its Siganos counterpart and comprises 11 hopping steps.

SOUSTA: This dance is also popular in Crete. It is danced by pairs of boys and girls standing opposite each other dance it. The hands reflect movements of the dance. The dance comprises 4 steps and dancers have freedom of movement; they may change places or make turns.


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