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