*a Living dance is a 1st Generation dance that is still performed in the country of origin (or immigrant communities) as part of a social event like a wedding where others can participate (not for an audience) by people who learned the dance informally (from friends and relatives by observation and imitation, not in a classroom situation). For more information, click here and here.
Look no further than the above YouTube to know traditional folk dancing is alive, well, and even hip among younger people in Greece and beyond.. This was shot on the Island of Ikaria at an annual event. Similar YouTubes exist for other years. Not the simplest of steps, how is it that everyone seems to know it, and even dance variations? I think I’ve found the answer, and it’s a combination of astute promotion of Ikaria’s traditions and a pop music phenomenon.
Below is the basic step, with a few variations
Here’s how your average Greek local performing group does it:
Another version – notice this one uses a front basket hold
Ikariotikos has long been a popular dance among Greeks. Here’s some music considered by ‘Kariots to be “authentic’ – it’s instrumental.
However in 1975 a “Neighbor Islander”, George Konitopoulos, released a song he wrote called My Love in Ikaria.
Later Giannis Parios made it a hit
Then around 2014 a younger Eleonora Zouganeli made it a bigger hit with a younger audience.
Meanwhile, in 2015 some Ikarians opened a school for Greek language, culture and dance.
The school is well attended, partly due to the tremendous popularity of the hit song, which soon became called “Ikariotikos”. So the phenomenal YouTube shown at the top of the page is a party associated with the school – hence all the good young dancers.
Did I say young? You bet! Watch this guy.
Perhaps starting this young is one of the reasons Ikaria has been designated one of only five “blue zones” on the planet – a place where people live extraordinarily long and healthy lives.