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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)


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Information: A country.

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, historically also known as Hellas, is a country located in the Southern Balkan Peninsula in Europe.

Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilisation, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, as well as the Olympic Games.

Greece is a democratic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, and a very high standard of living.

In the aftermath of World War I, Greece attempted further expansion into Asia Minor, a region with a large native Greek population at the time, but was defeated in the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922. The following era was marked by instability, as over 1.5 million propertyless Greek refugees from Turkey had to be integrated into Greek society. On Octoberl 28, 1940, Fascist Italy demanded the surrender of Greece, but the Greek administration refused, and, in the following Greco-Italian War, Greece repelled Italian forces into Albania, giving the Allies their first victory over Axis forces on land. The Greek struggle and victory against the Italians received exuberant praise at the time, most prominent in a quote attributed to Winston Churchill: "Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but we will say that heroes fight like Greeks."

Greece is a synthesis of art, architecture, geography, history and poetry, an antithesis of simplicity and sophistication, a link between East and West and yet entirely separate from either, a country where the past lives are indistinguishably interwoven with the present.

The Greeks are friendly and lively with an almost unlimited capacity for enjoying themselves, helped by the fact that their concept of human relations is refreshingly uncomplicated. Much of their system of values has remained unchanged since pre-classical times, faithfulness to friends, respect for the obligations of hospitality, the cult of the beautiful, and a pagan sense of the remorselessness of fate.

Music and dancing are an essential part of their lives and it is noticeable that the young, though capable exponents of their own style of Western dances, are also devoted the their own dances. To see a well-executed "hasapiko" or the more acrobatic "zeibekiko," is an experience that never palls with repetition.

The question of food can be a stumbling block to the unwary. Both Greek cuisine and Greek wine are often unreasonably slighted by the so-called expert. It is true that one should not make exaggerated claims for either. The cooking is limited in range and, being based on oil as opposed to butter, sacrifices subtlety to savoriness, with the result that the things to eat in Greece that the foreigner most readily appreciates are the simple things: meat roasted on a spit, prawns, and squid.

As for the wines, they are never likely to find high favor with the connoisseur's palate, but they are infinitely more pleasant (and less expensive) than the average table wines of France and Italy. The curious pine-flavored wine, retsina, is an acquired taste, but after the initial shock is an admirable drink.

National Dances: Syrtos, Syrtaki, Ziebekiko, Pyrrhichios (Serra), Pentozali, Kalamatianos, Tsamiko, Hasapiko, Ballos, Sousta, Tsfiftetelli

Location: Balkans

Regions and Cultures: Aegean Islands, Ionian Islands, Dodekanesian Islands, Black Sea, Crete, Epirus, Thrace, Karagounides.

Languages: Greek, Turkish, Romany, Aromanian

Religions: Greek Orthodox Christian, Islam

Note: When in Greece, it is considered polite to cheerfully participate in folk dancing if invited!


"He made a leap, rushed out of the hut, cast off his shoes, his coat, his vest, rolled his trousers up to his knees, and started dancing . . .

"He threw himself into the dance, clapping his hands, leaping and pirouetting in the air, falling on his knees, leaping again with his legs tucked up – it was as if he were made of rubber. He suddenly made tremendous bounds into the air, as if he wished to conquer the laws of nature and fly away. One felt that in this old body of his there was a soul struggling to carry away this flesh and cast itself like a meteor into the darkness. It shook the body which fell back to earth, since it could not stay very long in the air; it shook it again pitilessly, this time a little higher, but the poor body fell again, breathless."

"He went back to the hut, sat in front of the brazier and looked at me with a radiant expression. 'What came over you to make you dance like that?' 'What could I do boss? My joy was choking me.'"

–Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek).



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