Dances of Thessaly – Greece

Location of Thessaly (red) in Greece (ivory).

The following quotes are from the best book available on Greek dances – Traditional Dance in Greek Culture by Yvonne Hunt, 1996. “The fertile central plains of Greece are known as the region of Thessaly. It is surrounded by several mountain ranges dividing it from Epiros, Macedonia, and Roumeli, and is bounded by the Aegean Sea on the east, with its busy port of Volos. The mountain peaks and monasteries of Meteora are among its most notable sites.

Geography of Thessaly, the largest area of level fertile soil in Greece.
Thessaly regions.

“In addition to the indigenous Thessalians, these fertile plains are the home of many Greek refugees mainly repatriated to mainland Greece during population exchanges with Bulgaria and Turkey in the early 1900’s. These include Cappadocians such as those in Vounena, Pontics as in Aetorahi, and Thracians as in Neo Monastiri. While these and others add much variety to the current dance repertoire of the region, they will not be considered at this point. Here we shall examine the dances and people considered to be native to Thessaly.”

“By and large we are again confronted with a repertoire consisting mainly of Syrtos/Kalamatianos, Sta Tria,

A Sta Tria from East Argithea, Thessaly.
Sta Tria, Trikala, 1997. The song is THE DYOSMOS AND THE VASILIKOS- an Arvanite (Albanian/Greek) song.

and Tsamikos. This does not mean that in all the regions we have examined where these three dances are popular that they are danced exactly the same. In general we find a much livelier, jumpier version of the syrtos here. The tsamikos, which is frequently danced in four measures to the right and two to the left elsewhere (i.e. Peloponnessos) is more often danced with three measures to the right in this region.”

Tsamikos from Sofades, Karditsa region, 1983

“In the eastern part of Thessaly, those areas bordering on or near the Aegean, we find a dance style that resembles that of many of the islands. This is true around Volos, in the Pylion area and in Trikeri. Many of the inhabitants of Trikeri are sponge-fishermen and their dances and music are very similar to those found on the island of Kalymnos which also has a large population of sponge-fishermen. It is easy to imagine a trading and sharing of music/dance between these two populations who obviously meet during the course of their work.”

For more on this dance, see: https://folkdancefootnotes.org/dance/a-real-folk-dance-what-is-it/1st-generation-dances/mihanikos-sponge-diver-dance-kalymnos/
Karagouni culture regions, (red circle). Villages near the cities of Farsala, Palamas, Sofades, Karditsa.

“When thinking of the dances of Thessaly, one tends immediately to think of Karagou-na. The Karagounides (Garagounides, as they refer to themselves), according to research done by Apostolis Firfiris, whose mother was a Karagouna, are found in four main centers of Thessaly: Karditsa, Sofades, Palamas, and Farsala.” Karagouna and its relative Svarniara will be discussed in an upcoming post on Karagouna.

“A dance that is commonly found throughout most of the Thessalian plains is the Beratis. It is a slow dance in 2/4 or 7/8 (slow, quick, quick) rhythm. danced free-style in circular fashion. As the step is simply an alternating of right and left in time to the rhythm the hand movements play an important part in forming the style of the dance. There are many tunes used for this dance from one part of the region to another. A frequently heard song is “Beno mes’ t’ambeli”.

Beratis starts 11 seconds in.

“In some parts of Thessaly the music gradually speeds up from the Beratis and becomes the Syngathistos. Again it is a free-style dance in circular fashion done mostly by Vlachs and Hassiotes throughout the region. For this, too there are many different songs. A favorite in some areas is ‘Tasia’.” Note: A different dance called Syngathistos, in 9/8, is popular in Greek Thrace.

‘Tasia’ is the middle song in this medley of Beratis/Syngathistos tunes.

“The Argithea region of the Agrafa Mountains brings us an additional variety of dance. Here the sta tria, syrto/kalamatianos, and tsamikos are also very popular. However, the favorite dance of certain villages is the Klistos. It is given this name for the very same reasons as the dance of the identical name in Ipati. However there the similarity ends.” See https://folkdancefootnotes.org/dance/a-real-folk-dance-what-is-it/about/kleistos-greece/

“Another dance of interest is the Tai Tai of Aidonohori. See https://folkdancefootnotes.org/dance/a-real-folk-dance-what-is-it/about/tai-tai-greece/

Tai Tai as performed in its home village, Aidonohori, Thessaly.
Aidonohori, home of Tai Tai, is the red dot.

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