Men's martial dance that is danced in the region
of Anogia, with special characteristics the hopping steps
and the strong taps of the feet in the ground. It seems that
it springs from an ancient dance of the Kourites. The hands
of dancers are hold from the palms crosswise and form a dance
of twelve steps (six steps forward, six steps backwards).
It is attributed with a lyre and a lute.
cheerful and comical dance that suits the spirit of the Carnival.
It is named zervodeksos because the dancers dance sometimes
with a direction to the left (zerva) and sometimes to the
right (deksia). The change of the direction is being done
when the lyre player plays a high musical sound.
is being danced with eleven steps and is attributed with a
lyre. It is mainly danced in the prefecture of Rethimno and
more specifically in the province Amari but also in the regions
around it, as well as the village Harkia in the province of
Rethimno. According to the book of I. Tsouhlarakis, "The
dances of Crete", this dance was first danced around
1800 in the region of Ampadia in the province of Amari (prefecture
of Rethimno), as a variant of pentozali, so that Sifodaskalakis,
a limping chieftain of the region, could dance in a feast.
dance that belongs to the family of hopping dances of Crete,
likely having an origin from the ancient Pirrihio dance. In
the Lasithiotiko Pidihto is portrayed all the nobility and
modesty of the people of Eastern Crete. In Sitia they call
it "Stiako'" and in Ierapetra "Gerapetritiko"
(in the old days in Ierapetra it was usually called "Cretan
dance"). With no doubt it is the most representative
dance of Eastern Crete, in which are characterized but also
appreciated the skilful dancersas well as the good instrumentalists.
It begins with a slow rhythmical introduction and progressively
it becomes fast but also retained without exceeding the limits
and it ends up as a Dionysiac dance. The Pidihtos has some
small variants in Sitia, Ierapetra and Merampello in the steps
but also the melody in which there is a big variety.
or Kastrinos Pidihtos is a swift dance which is completed
in sixteen steps, (eight forwards and eight backwards). The
accompanying music is played by violin or lyre with lute,
mandolin or askomantoura in the mountainous regions. This
dance is enthusiastic and dynamic. It is circularly danced
with hands holding from the palms in the height of the shoulders
and the elbows bent. It is developed with upstandingness and
enthusiasm and it leaves the first dancer to improvise.
The divine origin of this dance has a certain base after a
lot of dances of Greeks have their roots from the Minoan times.
In Greek writtings we meet revolutionary dances under arms
as the orsiti (ancient Cretan dance) that Athineos says that
it has its roots from the ancient pirihi. The term "orsos"
or "orses" is given in the swift figures that the
dancers make in our days. The dance was first danced in the
province of Malevizi in the prefecture of Heraklion (Kastro),
that's why it is called Maleviziotis or Kastrinos. In Chania
this dance is called Kastrini Sousta. In the rest of Crete
it was propagated around the decade of 1920.
dance that we mainly meet in the prefecture of Rethimno. It
belongs to the category of the round dances of Crete.
form of round dance that is danced in certain villages of
the prefecture of Rethimno and Chania. It is danced by men
and women, as the woman keeps the end of a cloth with her
left hand and next to her a man holds the other end, up to
the moment where the lyre player will say "ntama",
so each man leaves his partner's cloth in order to dance with
the woman that is front of him.
This dance owes its name to the folk couplet that
is sung always first during the dance:
" My ksenompasariakaki, my ksenompasariko,
my curly little basil, wish you were mine".
Its melody is cute, light and it makes the dance enthusiasts
want to dance. In the old days they used to danced and sing
it in every feast, especially in the mountainous villages
of Ierapetra and Merampello (where they call it "Mana").
It was well-known until the decade of 1960. It is a settled
and slow dance that resembles the Sigano. In the old years
in Ierapetra they didn't know the Sigano. It came over the
last years from central Crete, as the olders say. We can say
that the Ksenompasaris mighr be an old local form of the Siganos
Pentozalis is a particularly enthusiastic and swift
dance. Its basic steps are five and it is based on a rhythm
with eight musical metres. It is danced by men and women holding
each other from the shoulders in circle. The accompanying
music is played by violin or lyre with lute, mandolin and
askomantoura in the mountainous regions.
is perhaps the most known but also historical dance of Crete.
It is said that during the Turkish domination, Crete and in
general Greece under the need of allies was collaborating
with Russia. At that time, the empress Ekaterini was on the
throne of Russia, who had sent away of the throne the empress
Elisabeth of Russia. A Greek Captain of the royal guard, Papazolis,
also participated in the coup d'etat. After Ekaterini's V
dethronement, Papazolis, in agreement with Russian courtiers,
asked from the empress to help the Greek nation to be exempted
from the Turkish domination. Ekaterini decided to send army
in Greece so that it will help at the rebellion, since the
release of Greece and the sinking of the Ottoman Empire served
also her own plans to spread her empire. This became fast
acquaintance in Greece through Papazolis, who in his travel
incited the Greeks. However Ioannis Vlahos or Daskalogiannis
from Crete heard about the rebellion, travelling with his
boats as a tradesman in Russia. Daskalogiannis, an educated
and polite man, courageous and powerful in Crete, came first
in contact with the courtiers of Ekaterini and came to an
agreement about the help from Russia. This way, when reaching
in Crete in agreement with his commanders, he prepared his
own revolution on Crete, counting on the help of Russia.
the delivery they decided to make also a new martial dance
that would symbolize the fifth "zalo", that is the
fifth revolt against the Turks. So he ordered to in the instrumentalist
Kioro from Anopolis at Sfakia, to compose a martial dance
with five zala (steps), and twelve turnings, the number of
the leaders that were participating in the revolution. The
dance was danced with the soldiers holding each other from
the shoulders, which symbolizes the mutual support amongst
the warriors. This revolt however failed, Daskalogiannis like
the rest of his captains were killed, but this dance remained
to remind the revolt, as well as Daskalogiannis himself .
An other version reports that Pentozalis has been created
after the agreement between five captains that every one of
them had his own turning.
In Pentozalis the first dancer, in absolute agreement with
the rest of the dancers, hasa restriction of improvisation,
his steps are ritual and counted. Women do not often lead
is a slow walking dance which is danced holding hands from
the shoulders, is completed with six or eight steps, with
eight steps is danced in Milopotamos, while with six steps
is danced in Heraklion. When it is danced with six steps it
does not complete the melody because its basic metres are
eight, however it is easier this way, and generally is characterized
as a tourist dance. Because in Siganos the circle of dancers
when there are many curles in spiral, many say that it depicts
the exit of Theseus from the Labyrinth.
Siganos is said to be the dance of the bride, because it is
danced in the marriages with the groom on the front and the
bride next to him.
There isn't enough evidence about its origin, it is said however
that during the Ottoman domination, the privileged ones used
to call the Cretans at their places and put a slippery material
on the floor in order to make the women and their girls dancing
to fall so as their skirts would raise. So, the Cretans not
being able to do anything else, they asked from the instrumentalists
who were usually Christians to compose a melody for a dance
with no walking, with strong steps so thatthe women won't
lose their balance and fall.
That way the composition of Siganos was made.
An other version reports that the Turks on dominated Crete
had forbitten the Cretans to dance revolutionary dances. So
the Cretans invented the Siganos that resembles a lot the
steps of pentozalis, in order not to forget this great dance.
Today Siganos is accompanied very often by a series of couplets,
sarcastic, erotic, of grief and pain.
The Sousta is the facing dance of Crete that has
a lot of elements from the ancient pirihios. The particular
way that is danced is the evidence. The dance is being danced
by men and women, alternately holding palms all together,
shaping in the beginning a semicircle, afterwards they separate
and stand the one opposite the other making two teams, on
of the men and and one of the women. During the dance a story
is developed between the man and the woman, the man calls
and hugs, trying to invite the woman erotically. The woman
with turnings and figures resists to the erotic call. With
the movements of the hands and the head, a discussion is developed
little by little. Till in the end, befalls the union. The
development of this dance therefore is an erotic history that
each one of the dancers, depending on his place, plays his
The dance requires an absolute interdependence between the
body, the hands and the head that all of them, in a combination
contribute to the absolute expression of the dance. The rhythm
is based on metre 2/4 and the accompanying music is played
with lyre or violin and lute, mandolin or askomantoura in
the mountainous regions. Its basic steps are three.
The Sousta as a dance has its roots from the ancient pirihios
that is considered the most ancient Cretan martial dance.
In the antiquity, the Greeks believed that the Cretans had
invented the art of dance under a divine inspiration and that
the most ancient dances of Crete and in general of all Greece
were the dances of the Kourites.
that is named this way because with the general name pirihi
all the martial dances are characterized, is said that it
was invented by the Kourita Piriho, a Kourita God. This martial
dance is danced with all the martial equipment and depicted
the battle of pedestrian soldiers. It was danced from one
warrior or by many together, where they depicted the movements
of the fight. It is considered however that the famous Cretan
musician and composer Thalitas, who composed a lot of songs
for this dance, rescued it. Thalitas in the antiquity was
known for the composition of paeans that him made famous.
It is said that Thalitas according to an oracle from Delphi
was called in the Sparta in order to rescue the place from
a plague with the help of paeans. It was probably then that
he taught the Spartans the pirihio. Little by little it was
propagated in all over Greece. Reports say that the dance
was danced around 60b.C. in Athens in the feast of Panathenaea.
Around 300a.C. the dance began to be danced from women as
well and thus it took an erotic character. Its current name
came from the time of the Venetian domination from the Italian
word "susta" that means lamina (spring), since the
body during the dance reminds of it. With its spread, every
city that was danced in, was changing its name claiming its
fatherhood. It prevailed however in the islands of the Aegean
and on Crete. In the islands the rh ythm is also played with
In the older times, the dance gave the opportunity in man
in love of expressing his sentiments to a woman. The variety
in the rhythms and the songs of Sousta is very big, and gives
the possibility for a spread of the hands and a bigger expression
of the body. Two good dancers can easily during the dance
to carry out a love story from the beginning till the happy
or sertos is a slow dance that is danced in a rhythm based
on metre 2/4 (4 turnings by 2 times) and is accompanied by
lyre or violin, lute, mandolin or askomantoura in the mountainous
regions. There is a big variety of rhythms that accompany
the Sirtos, the first, the second, the Kissamitikos, etc.
It is named Sirtos because the legs of the dancers are shuffled
on the ground without losing their contact with the earth,
which the Cretans worshipped as a Goddess. It is completed
with eleven or twelve steps, when it is danced with eleven
steps it keeps one rhythm, and its pace is circular, with
hands in a distance looking upwards.
the dance, the dancers shape a circle which closes and opens
inwards. The circle is led by the first dancer, who has the
possibility to improvise, making small variants in the pace,
shaping the figures, small complicated steps, however without
enthusiasm and big jumps, and without exiting the circle,
he makes turns and moves that take off the dance. After he
finishes, he goes last one and the second dancer becomes first
making his improvisions.
When the dance is danced by men only, the following shaping
is strictly followed. The first dancer with a piece of material
draws the second one and they dance while the rest of the
dancers follow, walking while holding hands. The first dancer
takes the first turn following the steps of the Sirtos, on
the second turn he makes alternations in the steps with prudence,
making small improvised figures, on the third turn with more
enthusiasm he executes more intense steps and exiting the
circle with swift movements, he touches the last dancer. Thus
the second becomes first and executes his own variants. This
becomes until all the dancers dance in the front. This has
a particularly allegorical importance because it depicts the
leader with the commander that together draw the men in the
war and when the leader is killed, the commander takes his
elements say that a few days before the historic event of
the fall of Istamboul, about 1000 Cretans volunteers begun
to fight in Istamboul (the only naval expedition that was
completed). When Istamboul fell, the 150 remaining Cretans
continued fighting in the three towers that they had undertaken.
So, the leader of the Turkish army, as an example of good
will and bravery, decided to let them leave with one of their
boats, armed and with their flags of war, honouring their
According to the tradition, the Cretans over the few moments
of resting from the war used to sing songs that prompted in
heroism and self-sacrifice, combining the ancient pirihi with
the Byzantine music, making two melodies of their own, so
as to accompany their songs. After years, during the marriage
of a captain, the chieftains ordered the organist to play
those honoured melodies, and under the sentimental charging
of their memories, they danced the ancient dance in variants.
This resulted to the current sirtos with the eleven steps.
According to the instrumentalists and the dancers of that
time, this dance started to propagate itself all over Crete
during the '20s, with certain variants regarding the steps
and the melody. Its expression from revolutionary in the Western
parts, becomes more lyrical as long as we move to the Eastern
parts. So, it is differently danced in Kissamos, differently
in Milopotamos, differently in Heraklion and differently in
Women in Crete hold many times first in Sirtos, in contrary
to men, they give big importance to the dancing expression
rather than in virtuosity, do not execute jumps and leaps
but small modest steps with harmony in the movement of body
and legs. They make turns that refer very often to the murals
of Knossos that depict the blue ladies with the tufted skirts.