Karagoúna, 2nd G – Greece

Yvonne Hunt, in Traditional Dance in Greek Culture, 1996, writes “The Karagoúnides (Garagoúnides, as they refer to themselves) , according to research done by Apostólis Firfiris, whose mother was a Karagoúna, are found in four main centers of Thessaly: Karditsa, Sofádes, Palamás, and Fársala. In each of these centers they perform their own versions of the dance we call Karagoúna. In each case it is a simple dance usually consisting of one step done repeatedly. It may be like the sta tria or a simplified version of syrtos. Never, however, does it take on the choreographic form of several changing steps ending with a lively syrtos that is presented by almost all of the performing groups in Greece and abroad.Since that was written, apparently most performing groups have reverted to showing the ‘village’ version.

So the Greek ‘village’ version of Karagoúna is a simple, usually one-step dance that, depending on the skill or inspiration of the leader, may feature improvised moves only performed by the leader. To see the ‘village’ (or Living, as I call it) Karagoúna, hear various Karagoúna songs, and to find out more about the people called Karagoúnides, see: https://folkdancefootnotes.org/dance/a-real-folk-dance-what-is-it/about/karagouna-%ce%ba%ce%b1%cf%81%ce%b1%ce%b3%ce%ba%ce%bf%cf%8d%ce%bd%ce%b1-greece-thessaly/

Ted Petrides, in his 1976 book ‘Greek Dances and How to Do Them’ writes “when the Karagouna is danced by the people known as the Karagounoi who live in Karditsa, Thessaly, it is often danced as a simple sta tria [Taproot dance, DB]. However, when middle-aged and older people dance the Karagouna, they tend to use no particular set pattern: the leader performs steps as he sees fit, and the rest of the dancers perform steps similar to his as best they can. The following steps are several of those performed by the leader of the dance, described and placed in a fixed sequence in order to facilitate the cooperation between the leader and the rest of the dancers. This in fact is what Greek folk ballet groups do, and these are also the steps taught in Greek schools. The dance is in 2/4 rhythm.

This Living, ‘village’ Karagouna is a good example of Kefi in action. People are having a good time – the dance is somewhat secondary. Everyone knows the music is for Karagouna, but at the beginning, the guy in the yellow t-shirt is horsing around with some tsamiko moves. Everyone’s basic step is Sta Dyo/Syrto – nothing fancy. At 1:09 a guy does some knee dips, a Karagouna move described by Patrides. At 2:16 a guy dumps trays of flowers on klarino (clarinet) player – Sotiris Kokkoris – as a tribute.

When demonstrated by Greek performing groups, (called by Petrides ‘folk ballet groups’), the dance became a collection of moves in a fixed sequence that everybody performed. In recent years, the trend in Greek performing groups appears to favour demonstrating the simpler ‘village’ dance, with only one simple step. There are 2 YouTubes of Greek performing groups executing the steps and change sequences to a dance called Karagouna that is almost identical to the dance recreational folk dancers know. One was made in 1993, the other in 1982. As I can find no Living ‘village’ examples of this choreography in Greece, no historical references, and no current Greek performing groups using this choreography, I’m calling it a 2nd Generation dance – not ‘village’, but Greek performance in origin.

2nd Generation Karagouna. Recreational folk dancers will recognize this as the Karagouna they know. Introduced by Dick Crum in 1960. He says he learned it from Mr Stavros Kalaras, Athenian dance teacher, in Pittsburgh. A Greek performance from 1982.

Neos Kosmos, https://neoskosmos.com/en/ a website for the Greek community of Melbourne, Australia, quotes Nick Papaefthimiou “The karagouna is well known to everyone but for many years a modern version was performed by dance groups accompanied by a modern song, which included a kalamatiano transition which the karagounides refer to as the pallavi (crazy) karagouna. The dance is generally referred to as svarniara and was originally orchestral but with time lyrics were added and has taken on the name karagouna in reference to the lyrics. When ordering the song with lyrics the villages say “Vara to tragoudi”. Mr Papaefthimiou has been making regular trips to Greece to experience the traditions first hand from the primary source…even making his own field recordings. Above and below is the “crazy” Karagouna. Both YouTubes are ‘old’.

Another 1st Generation Karagouna, 1993 – the most recent performance I can find from Greece. Yvonne Hunt’s comment: “Dick Crum was a good friend.  Since research has been subsequently done with the Karagounidhes, I believe Dick himself would be horrified by this.”

For English lyrics to these songs, see https://folkdancefootnotes.org/music/karagouna-english-lyrics/

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