If you’ve seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, then you know that Greek folk dancing is a blast! From the outside, it probably looks a little complicated. There are many different Greek folk dances that are set to particular types of music. A few Greek dances might be too difficult to jump right into, but there is one dance in particular that is very easy to learn and always performed at parties and festivals. Put on your dancing shoes, you’re ready to learn to dance in the Greek folk style!
How To Dance With the Greeks
The first thing to know about Greek folk dancing is how it works. Greek dancing is done in a line, with people lining up from right to left. The “leader” of the dance will almost always be on the right. This lineup, dancing to the right, transforms into a large circle. Once this circle is formed, the leader of the line and the person dancing at the end will be near each other.
Do We Hold Hands?
For most Greek dances, people in a line will hold hands regardless of the gender of the person next to them. There are a few dances where the dancers put their hands on the shoulders of the people next to them (such as the dancing made popular in the film “Never On Sunday”). Many times I see people with no Greek dance experience attempt to hold onto the shoulders of the people next to them. This typically isn’t necessary. Hand-holding is normal and much easier. Typically, the right hand goes on the bottom and the left hand goes on the top. This means that while holding hands with the people next to you, you will have your right hand underneath the hand of the person on your right and your left hand on the top of the person on your left.
Breaking It Down.
The Greek folk dance that you’re going to learn has only six steps. When you think about it that way, it’s pretty simple! These six steps, once mastered, are simply repeated over and over again. There really isn’t much else to it! Here are the six steps: step right with your right foot, left foot crosses behind, step right with your right foot, kick your left foot to the right, step left to your left foot, kick your right foot to the left. That’s it! You really can learn to dance in the Greek folk style!
How To Practice This Dance
It might be easiest to try to learn this dance by yourself or with one other friend. Now, think about the six steps to this dance. Once you can visualize them, it is easier to refer to the steps as: right, left behind, right, kick, left, kick. Make sure that you understand what these directions really mean, though, so that you’re not kicking with the wrong foot, etc.
Take these six steps very slowly at first. Once you complete the last step, “kick” (or kick your right foot to the left), then you begin the sequence again with “right” (or step right with your right foot). Keep repeating these steps slowly until you begin to feel comfortable with them.
How To Recognize This Dance
Now that you’ve practiced the steps, you’re ready to dance this dance at a big fat Greek wedding. How will you recognize this dance? One simple way to know that people are dancing the same dance is by asking yourself if it looks anything like the Jewish dance, the Hora, done to the music of Hava Nagila. (In fact, Hora simply means circle dancing, which is most Greek dancing as well.) Most of the time, the songs that this Greek dance is performed to sound quite a bit happier than Hava Nagila and the majority of Greek dance songs as well. Greek music is quite complicated in its rhythms, but this dance is simply six medium-tempo beats. Once you have assessed if this dance looks similar to the one you have learned, simply watch the dancers and see if you can pick out the six step pattern that you have learned. If you see it, you’re ready to join in the fun!
Make sure that you join the dance either at the end of the line or between some people that you recognize (typically towards the end of the line).
That’s it! It’s easy to learn to dance Greek folk dances! This simple Greek dance is fun, a great workout, and always performed at parties, festivals, and weddings. You’re sure to get the chance to perform it, and you’ll have a blast!