Most dances are circle dances, start with the right foot and move counter-clockwise. Each dancer is linked by a handkerchief or by holding hands, wrists or shoulders.
Dance has played an important role in the life of Greeks all through their history.
"The dance, of all the arts, is the one that most influences the soul. Dancing is divine in its nature and is the gift of the gods." Plato
In ancient times, dance was held in high regard in particular for its educational properties. Dance was essential for developing personality as well as preparing for battle. Dance along with music, writing and physical exercise, was the basis of the educational system.
Dance is an expression of human feelings and everyday life. The Greeks danced at religious festivals, ceremonies; they danced to ensure fertility; to prepare for war and to celebrate victories; they danced at weddings; to overcome depression and to cure physical illness. Almost every dance has a story to tell. Dance was regarded as one of the highest forms of art.
Epirus is especially rich in folk music. A unique characteristic of the region is the polyphonic singing. Dances from Epirus tend to be slow and heavy and danced with immense dignity. Their main instrument is the clarinet.
Thessaly retains a strong tradition of song-dances where the dancers sing the music, often without instrumental accompaniment . The dances are slow and controlled.
It was in Peloponnesus that in 1821 the struggle began to free Greece from the Ottoman rule and is thus the oldest part of modern Greece as we know it today.
AEGEAN ISLANDS - the music of these islands is very delightful and lyrical and as such portrayed in its dances. These are characterised by the lightness of steps and the springing in the knees.
DODECANESE ISLANDS - their music and dance were influenced by the Cretans who immigrated, fleeing from the Turks.
IONIAN ISLANDS - these islands were highly influenced by Italy. The people from Corfu are particularly musical. It is not uncommon to see organised concerts in the main squares. The dances are graceful, flirtatious and sometimes with erotic swaying of movement. Cephallonians are noted for their humour which is portrayed in their dancing
CRETE - their music and dance is dynamic and fast. Each Cretan dance gives opportunity for each dancer to lead and improvise. A particular characteristic of the Cretan dances is the springing movement of the dancers.
The Cretan lyre is the most distinctive instrument on this island
CYPRUS - its music and dance are quite distinctive
PONTUS - the region of present day Turkey on the eastern Black Sea into Russia; an area inhabited by Greeks from ancient times till 1924. Pontiac music and dance is quite distinctive. Its music and dance is easily recognised by its nervous energy, their use of knee bends and unusual shoulder tremors, unique to Pontus.