How to dance zorba the greek


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    Syrtaki (2*), Zorba’s dance – seuGreek – Folkdance Footnotes

    *2nd Generation dance. A dance that developed and was disseminated in a non-traditional way. 2G dances are specific – have a fixed format designed to correspond with the arrangement of a particular recording., whereas 1G dances are generic – have a shorter sequence that works with live music – where many different songs are played and arrangements vary according to the tastes of musicians and dancers. For more on the differences between 1st & 2nd G dances click here.

    Syrtaki is a media invention. When Anthony Quinn taught Alan Bates to dance in Zorba the Greek, he was performing a combination Vari Hasapiko and fast Hasapiko, choreographed by Giorgios Provias, to match the musical score written by Mikis Theodorakis. Starting slow and building up to a frenetic climax, it was a triumphant way to end a movie.  Quinn had learned a more difficult dance, but sprained his ankle before shooting, so the final product is hardly a Greek dance at all.

    When non-Greeks saw it, they thought it was a real Greek dance and soon tourists were demanding to be taught ‘Zorba’s Dance’. Since no such dance existed, everyone was free to do anything vaguely Greek that started slow and ended fast. Google ‘Zorba’ and ‘dance’ and look at the variations.

    Someone started calling the dance Syrtaki, which means “little syrto” – a catchy name, even though the dance has nothing to do with a traditional Greek Syrto.  It did however give the impression that Syrtaki was a real Greek dance, not just something from a movie.

    If you want to dance a Syrtaki there are many printed dance notes you can learn. A better use of energy would be to learn Vari Hasapiko, Hassaposerviko, and fast Hasapiko. Then, instead of trying to perform someone else’s choreography, do what Zorba would do and dance as the spirit moves you!

    Start slow, doing variations on Vari Hasapiko, including the basic step if you can. Sometimes the music gradually increases to a tempo suitable for Hassaposerviko. Sometimes it jumps abruptly to fast Hasapiko speed. Sometimes it even slows and speeds several times. Have fun with it. More than any other dance, with Syrtaki there is no right way or wrong way.

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    How "Sirtaki" appeared - Website about Crete

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    The progenitors of the national Greek dance "Sirtaki" were the Cretan dances "Syrtos" and "Pidichthos". And few people know the amazing story of the origin of the Sirtaki dance. In fact, Sirtaki appeared not so long ago, at 1964 on the set of the film "Zorba the Greek" (Zorba The Greek, based on the novel by famous writer Nikos Kazantzakis). And there was a dance, I must say, very spontaneously.

    According to the script of the film, its main character, played by Antony Quinn, was supposed to show the national Greek dance to Basis. The beach scene was supposed to be quite short, about two minutes. Therefore, director Michael Kakoyanis faced a difficult task, to find a musician who would write music for this scene, so much so that in two minutes he could convey all the energy of Greek dance and make him believe that this is really a national dance. Kakoyanis entrusted such a difficult task to the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis. And he handled it brilliantly. The dance itself, which, by the way, was called the Zorba Dance, was invented by Anthony Quinn. And to make it as similar to Greek as possible, Anthony Quinn personally trained the dance technique with the local population. And since the film was shot entirely on the island of Crete, Quinn learned to dance the most popular national Cretan dances - Sirtos and Pidichtos.

    The dance invented by Anthony Quinn was literally glued together from Sirtos at the beginning of the dance and Pidichthos in the second (fast) part of the dance. From here appeared, which became insanely popular, the accelerating rhythm of the national Greek dance. But, if we compare Cretan dances and Sirtaki, it is clearly seen that they are not quite similar, Cretan dances are energetic, with a lot of jumps and various steps performed by the dancers, which, in fact, is not in Sirtaki. And all this despite the fact that Quinn quite well mastered the technique of local dances and the original version of the dance he invented was very similar to the dynamic Cretan dances, although it was pure improvisation. The fact is that before shooting the scene on the beach, Anthony Quinn broke his leg, and the crew was in danger of being left without this scene at all. But Quinn convinced director Michael Cacoyanis that he could do the "Zorba Dance" even with complicated leg swings. Naturally, the complex elements in the dance were never realized, but the dance turned out to be original and attractive in its own way. After filming the scene, Anthony Quinn revealed that his leg was so sore that it was impossible to lift it off the ground, let alone jump or swing. But Quinn found a painless way to move his bad leg - he dragged it across the sand. This is where this smooth and sliding step in Sirtaki came from. The name "Sirtaki" was invented by Anthony Quinn himself, and it came from the name of the dance "Syrtos" in a diminutive form. When Michael Cacoyanis asked him what kind of dance it was. Quinn sneered that it was the folk Greek dance "Sirtaki", which he was taught by a Greek. In his answer, Quinn seemed to justify himself that he had danced a dance, which, after all, was very different from what he would like to dance and what he had learned from the locals. But a little time passed before the film "Zorba the Greek" really fell in love with the Greeks, and the "Zorba Dance" touched the Greeks so much that it instantly became the most popular Greek dance and very soon was recognized at the legislative level as a national Greek dance. All over the world, the Zorba Dance became known as the Sirtaki dance, and the dance itself became one of the main symbols of Greece.

    Reference: Anthony Quinn - full name Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn - American actor, artist and writer of Mexican origin. Years of life 04/21/1915 - 06/03/2001. Anthony Quinn has won two Oscars for his roles in Hail Zapata and Lust for Life.

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    Sirtaki Greek dance

    Origin of the Sirtaki dance

    A symbol of Greece and Greek culture. Sirtaki is loved not only by the indigenous inhabitants of the islands, this dance was also appreciated by tourists. This tune is not to be confused with any other. Her motif is recognizable far beyond the borders of Greece. The authorship belongs to the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis.

    The most famous melody does not leave anyone indifferent. The dancers claim that each movement of the fascinating choreographic masterpiece takes them to another reality. The surrounding people no longer confuse the actors, they bring their every movement to automatism, it is impossible to stop.

    Origins and origins Sirtaki

    The well-known dance did not originate at all during the life of the ancient Greeks. It was created in the 60s of the last century. It has become a true national tradition thanks to the movie Zorba the Greek directed by Michalis Kakoyannis. The dance is based on the idea of ​​a slow beginning, a gradual unfolding of events and a swift finale. Such a principle, according to the mayor of Athens, who was in office at 1960s, there is a national trait of the Greeks.

    Sirtaki is considered to be an old butcher's dance. Allegedly, it was with them that the director of the film "Zorba the Greek" spied on the main movements. But according to another version, the actor who was appointed to the main role, Anthony Quinn (Alexis Zorba), broke his leg right before the start of filming. To find a way out, a kind of dance was invented for him. His sliding movements began at a slow pace, but with the development of the motive, they rhythmically accelerated. This decision was presented to the director by composer Mikis Theodorakis, and Quinn came up with the name - Sirtaki, which was recognized and widely used.

    The Greek folk choreographic genre “syrtos” developed in Crete. It is believed that Quinn drew an analogy with him when he applied movements in his work as Zorb. He claimed that a local Greek taught him such body movements, and they forever crashed into the memory of the actor with their liveliness, beauty and originality.

    Based on the story based on the book of the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba taught Basil, a famous Greek dance, to a guest from distant England. Who would have thought that this particular motive and movement would become the national priority of the country, its calling card and a way to attract tourists from around the world.

    According to another version, it is believed that the basis of sirtaki is not only sirtos, but also the original dance khasaposerviko. His movements are sharper than in sirtos, and more like jumps. It is known that the director invited a fairly well-known dancer to work with Quinn, but the actor could not learn the basic movements from the teacher, and could only perform the slow part of the sirtaki. This is also explained by the physical condition of the artist, namely, a broken leg. Quinn's understudy performs fast movements in the film. Some close-ups are Quinn's slow movements, but long shots are taken with a stunt double.

    The hymn to the Greek soul, however, was going to be changed already at the stage of editing the film. But at the last moment they changed their minds. “There is nothing more accurate that would convey the foundations of Greek culture and the character of this people,” Kakoyannis wrote. A simple melody became the main thread of not only a brilliantly filmed movie, but also the main idea, the Greek essence.

    Many historians and Greek scholars interpret the concept of "sirte" as touching a flat surface with their feet. Acceleration in the process of performing the dance speaks of the mastery of the choreographer. By the way, the performer of the role of Zorba, the American Queen, was awarded the title of "Honorary Citizen of Greece".

    The essence of the sirtaki dance

    Well-honed steps are performed in national Greek costumes. Such a decision is often typical for demonstrating national traditions to tourists. In everyday life, the Greeks, in order to show simple combinations of movements at festivities and celebrations, do not dress in national clothes. Their attire is quite simple.

    In contemporary Greece every dance movement can no longer be traced back to its origins. In just half a century, so many variations have appeared that they cannot be counted. But the essence remains intact:

    1. Slow start.

    2. Gradual acceleration of the tempo.

    3. Rapid finale.

    To this day, this choreographic ensemble is called "Zorba's Dance". The Greeks love their hero and are happy to demonstrate their favorite movements. It is impossible to dance alone. This is a collective decision. An ideal combination when 10-15 people dance sirtaki. At first, they line up, showing smooth movements with their legs, but they can also merge into a circle. This is not forbidden. When even more people show characteristic movements, they line up in several lines, then forming a couple of circles.

    Mandatory ritual - put your hands on the neighbor's shoulders during the dance, and touch his torso with him. Legs with a fellow never intersect. Don't untie your hands. This contradicts the main idea of ​​sirtaki. The ideal option is considered to be a dance, when the dancers' legs rise and glide smoothly, synchronously, not lagging behind the music even a beat.

    Smooth movements are in trinity:

    1. Pitch.

    2. Half squat.

    3. Lunge.

    The crossed zigzag movement, especially when the dancers move in a circle, makes a lasting impression on the audience. The music is in four quarters. But during the period of increasing tempo, it turns into 2/4. In this rhythm, it is easier to jump and move faster.

    Folk masterpieces

    In the summer of 2012 in Volos, as a result of a planned action, more than 5,500 Greeks, aged 13 to 90, lined up in a kind of sirtaki round dance. It was another record for the Guinness book under the light of the moon, which became the only one in the world in terms of scale and number of participants. The choreographic steps lasted exactly 5 minutes, and the dancers were the inhabitants of Volos, Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Trikala, and the islanders. The Greek synchronized swimming team also joined.

    Greeks never change their national traditions. Each festival or celebration is accompanied by collective pas. For tourists, this is another page in Greek culture. It is so original that there are no analogues in the world. The melody itself has won fans all over the world. Now, when people hear the incendiary motif of sirtaki, associations arise only with Greece.

    Almost all the scenes of Zorba the Greek were filmed in Crete. The famous island has always been very popular with tourists. It is the largest island in the Greek Republic. Almost every tourist who arrives in Crete tends to come to the city of Rethymnon. It is located in the northern part of Crete and, in truth, is considered the most beautiful of the cities. The port was built by the Italians.

    From legend to legend

    Crete is full of legends. It is believed that Zeus, the lord of the gods, was born on this island. That is why Dikti cave is popular among tourists. In it, taking the form of an ox, Zeus hid the stolen Europe from prying eyes. And Ariadne has been here. Her glomerulus paved the way for Theseus from the intricate passages of the labyrinth, where the well-known Minotaur lived.

    What about sirtaki? What else is connected with him here, except for the film being shot? Friendly Greeks will never deny the cultural traditions of other peoples, but they also cherish their own no less than representatives of other nationalities. A distinctive feature of the Greeks is the daily adherence to folk customs. They used to greet each other noisily and talk loudly in the street. In this they are somewhat similar to the Italians.

    But at the same time, the inhabitants of Crete and Greece, in general, are quite calm and absolutely naive. Their measured life is so reminiscent of the same sirtaki. Slow, smooth movements, waddle, slowly. But when you need to hurry up or show respect to a neighbor, here they resemble a fly during the flight.

    These people speak quietly in everyday life, but sometimes everything around them turns pale from the noise of their voices. They are full of emotions, gesticulating. This pace smoothly replaces their philosophical, contemplative attitude to life.

    At about 2 pm the Greeks start their traditional rest. Siesta lasts 3-4 hours. During this period, they eat and sleep, and then they no longer go to work. In the evening they gather in taverns, where they listen to pleasant music, drink soft or even strong drinks and, in a fit of emotions, dance. What would you think? Of course sirtaki. Collective choreographic steps cannot be stopped.

    Crete's most interesting sights are just a few steps or kilometers away from the hotels. Transport goes well. There are fishing villages here, visiting which no tourist will be dissatisfied. Almost every city has churches, fortresses, museums and even mosques. In the evening, when young people fill the taverns, it becomes quite fun, and everyone dances the incendiary sirtaki.

    Sirtaki and bouzouki

    The bouzouki is a Greek folk stringed and plucked instrument. It is very similar to the lute. Bouzouki is much older than the modern sirtaki dance. The roots of the instrument are in distant ancient Greece. It comes from cithara. Most of all, the bouzouki is widespread in Cyprus, although it is popular throughout Greece.

    Used to be played on three-string double or even triple bouzouki. But now the instrument is more often four-stringed (each of the strings is double). It was revived just at the time of the appearance of sirtaki, in the 60s of the last century. For a long time, the bouzouki was not recognized, but only in combination with the well-known dance did it gain new popularity. Now sirtaki is already impossible to imagine without the accompaniment of colorful, rich tones of string-plucked about tool.

    Greek cultural traditions do not end there. The perfect combination of sirtaki and bouzouki is only gaining momentum. Representatives of this nationality are very revered fun. Even in times of crisis, the Greeks came up with a saying: "Poverty loves to have fun." They don't drink much alcohol. The performance of sirtaki is considered an excellent doping. He is the main component of the cocktail of fun.

    Bouzouki and other colorful national landmarks The sights of Greece can be easily seen everywhere. The fun unfolds closer to the night. Going into any of the bars, where it is advisable to book places in advance, tourists can enjoy melodies performed on bouzouki. There are night centers and taverns.

    Tourists will hear not only national motives. You will get acquainted with Italian and Turkish songs and dances. Programs in bars and entertainment centers are different. Sounds modern and folk music. In the summer of 2015, Greece celebrated 90th anniversary of their national hero, composer Mikis Theodorakis. Recall that the well-known melody of sirtaki belongs to him. Among other things, symphonies performed by orchestras, ballets, arrangements of folk motifs, chamber works were also remembered.

    In the bars and taverns of Greece, you can also see excursions, including quite young people. Of course, they explore all the sights of accompanied by a guide and their school teachers. Tourists do not drink alcohol, they come to see the dancing sirtaki and are not averse to participating in it themselves.

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