Dancing is the most direct expression of human feeling as people in antiquity could not express themselves through the pen therefore dancing became their only form of expression. Greeks have recorded their joys tragedies, wars, harvests and natural disasters in song and dance. Our earliest records of Greek dance are found in passages from Homer, Plutach and Xenophon.
Our folk dances have changed from their original steps 2500 years ago. However, there are lots of ancient vases and frescoes in antiquity and Byzantine era that show that there is a correlation between the old and new form of Greek Dance.
The names of dances come from the region of its origin, “Critios, Kerkereakos, Rhoditikos, Macedonika” etc. They are also named after a trade eg “Hassapiko” or after a social group “Kleftiko” Usually Greek dances are performed in circles or line formations and are divided into two groups “pidiktos” (high dance) and “syrtos” (low dance). The pidiktos is performed mainly in the highlands and is virile and austere, performed mainly by men. The Syrtos is more lyrical, and dance by both male and female.
Women’s costumes were influenced by Greek Antiquity and Byzantine but also by the natural elements in regions of Greece. Costumes from the mountainous region are distinct to those from the islands. The same applies to those from villages to towns. Western European fashion brought about change to the traditional costume. These changes were influenced through royals of Greece Amalia, Sophia and Olga.
Men’s costumes were a sober colour and had simple decoration. A Poukamiso and dark coloured woollen pants. The use of the “bouleraki” vest was common and in region such as Thessaly and Epirus an overcoat was also used. The Vlachs and Sarakatsani wore a pleated skirt called the foustanella.
Musical Instruments differed between regions. A Musical Company consisted of a Clarinet, a Violin, a drum “Tibano” and a laouto. These were the instrument that substituted instrument of antiquity. The islands use the violin, santouri and lira. An additional instrument is the Gaida or tsabouna which is an instrument made of sheep skin.