Gerakina – Greece

Note: Gerakina translates as “female falcon”, a woman’s name. Gerakina is one of the most popular songs in Greece, and one of the best-known Greek songs outside of Greece. A YouTube search of the word Gerakina found over 100 videos; the vast majority are of musicians, singers, recordings old and new, and choirs from around the world performing the SONG. Most Greeks don’t consider Gerakina to be a dance per se. When musicians play Gerakina, most dancers step a kalamatiano. It’s often part of a medley of Greek or Greek Macedonian songs with a 7/8 rhythm which, when strung together make a satisfyingly loooong party kalamatiano. However, some special foot (and hand) work is sometimes done to Gerakina music by Greeks when on a stage. There are also choreographies created for the song, which is what most recreational folk dancers seem to prefer.

Gerakina – the History

From the Folk Dance Problem Solver, ©2007 by Ron Houston: “Yvonne Hunt has studied for many years the dances of the Serres region of Macedonia. She reports that Gerakina commemorates a historical event: The beautiful Gerakina Rokanis, born in 1854 in the ‘Tsakalades’ area of the town of Nigrita, was 16 by August, 6, 1970 when she went to draw water from the well for the lunch table. In she fell, and her screams brought ‘all the people’ to watch. A young man, perhaps her sweetheart Triantafillos, climbed in after her, but alas!. Not only did he fail, he himself had to be rescued and died three days later. The ‘well’ remains, a center of tourism…Nigrita commemorates the tragedy with a ‘Gerakina’ festival each Easter.

Documentary of the Easter Gerakina celebration, 2001

Gerakina – the Song

“According to Nigrita’s web site, a local coffee house poet/singer created the song (with a happy ending). A standardized version entered the Greek primary school curriculum to become known wherever Greeks gather. Yvonne reports that the song sung in Nigrita differs a bit from the well-known version.”

Foy lyrics and translations. click: https://folkdancefootnotes.org/music/lyrics-english-translations/gerakina/

For English lyrics that can actually be sung to the Gerakina melody, click: https://folkdancefootnotes.org/music/lyrics-singable-english/gerakina-music-english-lyrics/

For sheet music, click: https://folkdancefootnotes.org/music/sheet-music/gerakina-sm/

Singers, Yiannis Pliakos and Theocharis Skefales, both from Nigrita, sing the local version. Photos show Nigrita scenes & costumes.
Vassilis Tsitsanis sings a standard 20-bar version.
Practicing Gerakina in Mexico

Gerakina – the Greek Dance

In her comprehensive book A Nest of Gold, on the traditional dances and customs of Serres, (the region where the story of Gerakina originates and is celebrated), Yvonne Hunt does not mention Gerakina. Presumably it’s not considered a local dance.

Gerakina, as danced in the area around Nigrita, Serres, Greek Macedonia. Standard kalamatiano dance to Gerakina melody (listen closely, and compare to the Nigrita version sung above). Yvonne Hunt says “the most common musical ensemble is that of two zurnas [oboes] and daouli” [drum]. That’s what you’re hearing in this YouTube.
Somewhere in Greece – a medley of songs, standard kalamatiano dance.
Sakis Xenoudis sings.
Greeks in Sweden. Music in first 7 seconds is Gerakina, followed by Samiotissa, another popular song in a Kalamatiano medley.
Greek singing star Glykeria, on the popular Greek TV show, ‘To Our Health”
Vassiliki Aivatzidou
Caption below this YouTube: “Playin’ kalamatianos at the Hellenic Assosiation, in Rosario, Sta.Fe, Argentina. April 2009″ The transition from the song Samiotissa to Gerakina occurs around 0:32. No transition in dancing, just plain ole’ kalamatiano.

Gerakina – the Performance Dance

As shown above, many stage performances of Gerakina feature a standard syrto/kalamatiano. However, others are not content with that.

Natasa Manisali with a lighter, more modern version. Note the hand movements to “Droun, droun, droun, droun” – the sound of Gerakina’s jingling bangles.
In Macedonia, traditional instruments and syrto steps, plus hand and hip movements.
Apollon group from Duisburg, Germany.
This starts with some choreography, but reverts to the standard syrto/kalamatiano.
Gerakina is often performed in Greece by the youth of cultural groups.
A slightly different version.
1st graders from Kavala, Gerakina is often performed in school pageants.
I love this creative version! Droun, Droun, Droun!

Gerakina, the Recreational Folk Dance

In 1954, Anatol Joukowsky presented a 20-bar Gerakina choreography at Stockton. He also published it in his 1965 book The Teaching of Ethnic Dance. Ron Houston concluded “this seems to be an amalgam of motifs and leader’s variations for the kalamatiano, so dance strongly and proudly, as Anatol Joukowsky did.

Israeli group ‘Rokdim” doing Joukowsky’s 20-bar choreography.
Burgos, Bulgaria – School for Bulgarian and Greek folk dances. Joukowsky again.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: