How to zorba dance


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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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    a symbol of Greece and the wealth of the Greek people

    Sirtaki - a symbol of Greece and the wealth of the Greek people

    Sirtaki is the youngest Greek dance, the history of which is worthy of a separate film. If you ask a tourist who has just returned from Greece what he remembers the most, he will certainly name this dance style. What is remarkable about it and how did it come about? Find answers to these questions in our article.

    What is Sirtaki. Distinctive features of the dance

    This is a Greek dance that originated in the 60s of the XX century thanks to one resourceful American. But some of the origins of the style can still be traced in the ancient culture of Greece.

    It is believed that this genre is based on three Greek dances.

    • Hasapiko is an ancient dance of the Greek warriors. Little is known about this style. According to legend, butchers danced the hasapiko at Easter, which is why it is often called the "butcher dance". In addition, from Turkish "kasap" is translated as "meat merchant", which again confirms the origin of the direction. With sirtaki, hasapiko is related to the construction of dancers in rows, when all the dancers put their hands on each other's shoulders.
    • Hasaposervico is a quick version of hasapiko. To speed up the pace of the dance occurred to the Serbs, who came to Byzantium around IX. Their contribution to the development of the genre can be seen in the title: hasapo serviko . The rest of the dance is similar to its progenitor, hasapiko.
    • Sirtos is the true folk dance of the Greeks. In the modern view, this is a whole group of styles that unites the cultures of various Greek regions. Sirtaki inherited slow pas from sirtos.

    Can't wait to find out how sirtaki dance? In general terms, it looks like this:

    • a group of dancers stand in a row, because sirtaki do not dance alone;
    • each puts his hands on the shoulders of his neighbor, thus forming a long chain of like-minded people;
    • then the music sounds and the dancers begin to perform slow figures of the dance, gradually accelerating and reaching the apotheosis;
    • basic movements: smooth, sliding steps, semi-squats, sharp lunges and jumps. All steps are performed synchronously.

    And now imagine what kind of energy is present on the dance floor when sirtaki is performed by 20 or 50 people! The pattern of the dance captures and bewitches, forcing you to admire the unity and friendship of the Greeks. But none of this would be possible without music. Let's talk about it in more detail.

    Sirtaki story

    “Stop! Taken!” - with these words, Michalis Kakoyannis completed work on the film "Zorba the Greek" in 1964, not suspecting what success awaits his work. But three "Oscars" out of 7 nominations pale in comparison with the love of spectators around the world for the sirtaki dance, which was first performed in this film.

    Yes, the genre was born on the movie set, and the American actor Anthony Quinn, who played the role of Zorba, is considered its father. Thanks to him, or rather his broken leg, the dance entered the masses and became the hallmark of Greece. The case proceeded as follows.

    The script called for Quinn to perform an ancient Greek dance by the sea. He had to make quick and bouncing movements. But before filming, the actor broke his leg, and the initial choreography resonated with pain in the injured limb. I had to come up with something. And then Quinn replaced the fast movements with slow ones. Instead of jumping, he began to slide on the sand, making smooth and careful steps.

    Michalis Kakoyannis, the director of the film, was intrigued by the new dance and hurried to find out its name. "Sirtaki," Quinn replied, referring to a local resident who allegedly acted as the actor's teacher. It turns out that both the choreography and the name of the dance were invented by the main character of the film. Although there is another version regarding the last moment. She says that a Frenchman who was present on the set was involved in the title. He was interested in the question of the creators of the original Greek dance. They hastened to answer him that it was based on the most ancient dance of the Greeks, sirtos. The Frenchman instantly softened this name, turning it into sirtaki.

    The end of filming was the beginning of the popularity of the style among the local population and far beyond the borders of Greece. But before gaining fame, the dance had to "survive" heated debates during editing. The fact is that Cacoyannis wanted to change the music in the episode where Quinn dances. But the film crew unanimously decided to keep the melody of Mikis Theodorakis - so accurately she described the character of the Greek people.

    "Zorba the Greek" with its simple and uncomplicated melody continued the era of "Greek excitement" that reigned in the 60s. Europe was already swept up in Melina's dance from the Piraeus Boys when sirtaki appeared on the stage. It began to be taught in the highest circles around the world, more and more imbued with Greek culture.

    Dance also flourished in New York, where at the end of the 60s there were at least 10 clubs with Greek music. Their frequent customers were not only Greeks. Marlon Brando, Van Heflin and other famous personalities were noticed among those who wanted to learn sirtaki.

    Interestingly, the dance continued to be used in other Greek films as well. So, in the 1966 film “My Daughter is a Socialist”, it is performed by Alika Vuyuklaki.

    Sirtaki in a short time won the love of the Greeks and turned into a national treasure. However, he has not lost this title so far. Sirtaki and Greece are inseparable, although the dance has never been considered folk. This fact makes one wonder: why were the Greeks so imbued with his movements and music? The time has come to answer this question.

    Sirtaki as a reflection of the national character

    Zorba the Greek was mainly filmed in Crete. The inhabitants of the island, as well as the entire population of Greece, lead a calm, measured lifestyle. They do everything slowly, without forcing events. This behavior is very reminiscent of the beginning of sirtaki, filled with smooth movements.

    But as soon as a Greek is asked to hurry up, he starts fussing and fussing at the speed of light. At this moment, the connection of the Greek mentality with the accelerating pace of sirtaki clearly emerges.

    The similarity of dance with the way of life of the Greeks was noted even by the mayor of Athens, who held this post in the 60s. In his opinion, they are also slowly drawn into any business, gradually accelerating and reaching exorbitant speed.

    So it turns out that sirtaki is a subtle understanding of the psychology of the Greek character, translated into the language of dance and music. No wonder why the style has become a symbol of Greece.

    Interesting facts

    • When watching the film "Zorba the Greek" you can see that Quinn dances either fast or slow. How is this possible if the actor had a broken leg? Everything is simple. In scenes with a quick sirtaki, we see a stunt double, not Quinn.
    • The popularity of the sirtaki dance brought Anthony Quinn not only fame, but also allowed him to become an honorary citizen of Greece. The actor was awarded this title in the 90s. By the way, there were about 4-5 films in his career, including Zorba the Greek, in which he played the role of a Greek.
    • Mikis Theodorakis, the author of sirtaki music, also got a lot of honors. So, the government of the USSR presented him with the Order of Lenin. By the way, many residents of the post-Soviet space fondly remember sirtaki and participation in its group performance.
    • In one of the interviews, when asked about the origin of sirtaki, Michalis Kakoyannis answered that Quinn was simply too lazy to learn the choreography. He did not mention any broken leg.
    • One of the admirers of sirtaki was Aristotle Onassis, a well-known Greek businessman and billionaire.
    • In November 2011, the French took to Place Défense in Paris to perform sirtaki en masse and support the Greek population in difficult times.
    • On August 31, 2012, more than 6,000 dancers gathered on the embankment of the Greek city of Volos. Their goal was to perform the longest sirtaki for the Guinness Book of Records. The collection of applications for participation continued for several months, and rehearsals lasted about 30 days. As a result, 5612 people participated in the synchronous sirtaki, which was recorded by the international Guinness committee. By the way, 1672 people were involved in setting the previous record. It happened in 2010 in Cyprus.
    • A very negative attitude towards sirtaki has developed in Peru. The melody of the dance here is firmly associated with the leader of the Shining Path organization, Abimael Guzman. At one of the meetings, he performed the famous Greek dance, which brought the negative of the Peruvians to the style.
    • The sirtaki is also called the Zorba dance, in honor of the main character of the film, as well as the dance of friendship due to the atmosphere of unity on stage.
    • In 1967, the musical film Sirtaki was released in Greece. The tape is filled with love, romance and the desire to enjoy life, no matter what - that is typical for the dance itself.
    • Greek dance ensembles perform sirtaki in national costumes - chitons.

    The best music to perform sirtaki

    This is definitely Zorba's Dance Mikis Theodorakis. It is simply impossible to imagine a style without this musical accompaniment with an increasing tempo. Before writing the unofficial anthem of Greece, Mikis had to go through the Second World War and endure all the torture of the Nazis, being in captivity.

    The cruelty and heartlessness of the Germans did not break the friendly spirit of the young self-taught musician. After the war, he graduated from the Athens Conservatory and began to create. The main source of inspiration for Mikis was the musical culture of Crete. It was under her influence that he composes music for Zorba. The composer himself does not see anything remarkable in the melody, although he notes that it has a zest.

    Zorba dance (listen)

    Mikis introduced fashion not only for sirtaki, but also for bouzouki. It is a stringed plucked instrument known in Greece since ancient times. It is the bouzouki that accompanies the dancers and sets the mood for the dance. This musical instrument is even dedicated to a separate holiday, which is called the Buzuki holiday. They start celebrating it at midnight and enjoy Greek dances to its sound until 3-4 am.

    I would like to end my acquaintance with sirtaki with the words of the main character of the film “My Big Greek Summer”. What are the Greeks doing? Georgia asks and immediately gives an answer. - They are dancing!" It only remains for us to add: the sirtaki dance selflessly and with inspiration.

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    Sirtaki is a Greek dance invented by an American: pavel_shipilin — LiveJournal

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    It seems that the Greeks always danced sirtaki. And the younger generation is sure that it is so. In fact, the dance was invented by actor Anthony Quinn (actually, he is Mexican) in 1964 during the filming of the famous American-British-Greek film Zorba the Greek. The day before, he broke his leg and said that he could only do primitive movements.

    Anthony Quinn recalled: “I could not lift my leg and lower it - the pain was unbearable - but I found that I could drag it without much discomfort. Thus, I came up with a dance with an unusual sliding-pulling step. I would stretch out my arms, like in traditional Greek dances, and shuffle across the sand.” The director of the film, Greek Michalis Kakoyannis, asked the artist what the name of the dance was. “Sirtaki,” Anthony Quinn replied without hesitation. In Crete, they dance sirtos, which, however, bears little resemblance to sirtaki. Quinn just said the first thing that came to mind, but in all seriousness.

    After the release of the film, sirtaki really became a Greek folk dance, as did the music of Mikis Theodorakis (no one has composed another for sirtaki since then). But in Greece, for obvious reasons, it is called zorba. However, if someone happened to watch a Greek wedding (I did), then he most likely noticed that in his circle the Greeks do not dance zorba. This is such an export dance, for tourists.

    For example, like this flash mob “Fuck the Crisis, Let's Dance!”, which has already been watched by 170 thousand people. After watching, you will understand why so many people like the video.

    Tags: Sunday readings, sirtaki