St. Demetrios Dance Troupe

Move your mouse over a region on this map to read about the dances. Map of Greece Thessalia Peloponnisos Thrace Ionian Islands Macedonia Epirus Asia Minor/Pontus Aegean Islands Sterea Ellada Crete
Karagouna costumeKaragouna Costume

Thessalia

The landlocked but rich plains of Thessalia are Greece's bread basket. The name 'Karagouna' refers to the black coats worn by the region's women and also in our Senior Girls' costumes. The dance is done to one specific folk song which a woman so beautiful that the poor shepherd is willing to sell off his livestock in order to buy her jewelry.

Peloponnisos

The home of ancient Olympia, Corinth and Sparta, was once attached to the mainland but is now technically an island thanks to the deep man-made cut in the Isthmus.

Kalamtiano
The most universal Greek dance, this syrto (line dance) came from the town of Kalamata.
Tsagonikos
One of the oldest known dances of Greece

Thrace

Baidouska
This is an upbeat dance with skipping steps, in which the arm movements are as important as the feet.
Zonaradikos
The name of this dance refers to the unique hold in the line dance: holding on to a 'zoni' or belt, instead of hands.

Ionian Islands

Kerkyreiko
Coming from the island of Kerkyra (the Greek name for Corfu), it is danced to one particular song, and can be done in a single-file line or as couples, reflecting the long-time Italian influence on the island.

Macedonia

This mountainous area was Alexander the Great's home kingdom and boasts the second largest city of Greece, Thessaloniki, which is located near this region's tri-peninsula coastline.

Gaida
This is the Greek word for "bagpipe" which, in this mountainous region of shepherds, was an instrument easily acquired.
Kastoriano
This comes from the town of Kastoria, known for its many Byzantine churches and its lake.
Menousis
This dance is done to one specific folk song about a jealous man, Menousi, and his friends.

Epirus

Souliotissa costumeSouliotissa costume

This region, which includes the historic town of Yannina, is rich in history (and conflict) from Ottoman times to WWII, and many of its dances reflect that.

Arapikos
From the village of Zitsa
Berbis
From the village of Zitsa
Fissouni
Greek for "bellows", as is seen in the forward and backward movement of the line and comes from the town of Preveza
Polemikos
This means "warlike" and was danced by "klephts" or guerrilla fighters from the village of Pogoni, who fought against the Turks.
Tsamiko
This is another, more well-known, dance of the Klephts and is danced even today at Greek events.

Asia Minor and Pontus (modern-day Turkey)

Asia Minor refers to the western coast of modern-day Turkey. This once included the Greek communities of Smyrna and Constantinople (now called Izmir and Istanbul). The region of Pontus was further inland, situated on the south shore of the Black Sea. Most of the Greek communities in these areas had been a part of the Byzantine Empire for a 1,000 years but were either killed or driven off as refugees in the 1922 genocide committed by troops of Kemal Ataturk to the Christian Greek and Armenian enclaves within Turkey. Those who were able to flee to Greece and America brought with them only the clothes on their back and their unique music and dances.

Hasapiko
This literally means "of the butcher" and was danced by the Butchers' Guild of Constantinople
Kasilamas
A couples' dance of Asia Minor where the partners face each other and dance mostly improvised steps
Kotsari
The name of this well-known Pontian dance refers to the repeated kicking step of the dance;"kots" means ankle in the Pontian dialect
Laziko
Pontian dance, which has many variations of steps
Syrtaki
Also commonly referred to as "The Sailors' Dance", this Asia Minor dance was popularized by the film "Zorba the Greek."
Tik
Pontian dance which includes sweeping arm movements along with the steps.
Tsifteteli
Also commonly referred to as a "belly dance", this improvisational Asia Minor dance is now the most common form of dance in modern-day clubs in Greece. We have incorporated it as part of our choreagraphy in newer Kalamtiano songs.
Zeimbekiko
This dance was born in the 1920s in the Rebetika clubs of the Asia Minor refugee camps in Greece. Rebetika songs are typically slow, talk about the sadness of exile, and are danced by only 1 or 2 people at a time, in a totally improvisational manner. 

Aegean Islands

Foties
The name, meaning "fires", refers to the lit candles held while dancing. This comes from Mytilini (Lesvos).
Hiotiko
a Ballo (couple-dance) from the isle of Chios, which is known for its flavorful Mastich (gum).
Ikariotiko
from the isle of Ikaria, the mythical landing spot of Icarus, who flew too close the sun and fell. The syncopated beats/steps of this dance are very unique.
Kapetanissa
this means "female captain" and is an upbeat dance
Kalymniko (Leriko)
in this dance done on both the island of Leros and Kalymnos, dancers are linked by a basketweave handhold, and the line moves forward and back, reminiscent of the tide.
Mihanikos
Meaning the "machine", the name refers to what sponge divers of the isle of Kos called the infamous diving bell which allowed them to dive deeper for sponges, but which left many crippled from the effects of the bends.
Samiotiko
from the green isle of Samos, from which many of our parishoners hail.
Plataniotiko Nero
Means "Water of Platanos" which is a village on Samos known for its spring water.
Sousta Naxos
The word "sousta" means spring and refers to the bouncy movement of this dance from the isle of Naxos. Many islands have their own version of a sousta, but this one is unique in that it is danced with 2 lines led by one leader.

Sterea Ellada

This region includes the cities of Athens and Thebes, as well as the archaelogical site of the Oracle of Delphi.

Kaggeli
This is traditionally danced by men and incorporates an improvisational style
Koftos
This word literally means "cut off" and refers to the stops in the music, when the dancers also pause
Pos Stoumbizoun to Piperi
This dance incorporates the slow 1-2-3 step during the chorus of the song which asks "How is the pepper ground?" while the steps done to the verses of the song reflect the answers: "It is ground with...the knee, the elbow, etc." with the body-part mentioned "stomping" in the middle of the circle.

Crete

The home of the ancient Minoan culture is also the largest of the Greek islands and boasts beautiful beaches and high mountains.

Kritiko Syrto
the basic line dance of Crete is unique in that it moves both to the right and to the left
Pentozali
this very fast dance (zali means dizziness in Greek) was once done by Cretan soldiers as part of their endurance training.

Our Repertoire

There are hundreds of Greek dances but every Greek folk dance group knows several basic dances, done by all Greeks, such as the Kalamtiano syrto (literally meaning "to pull"). But the background of each church's parishoners does certainly influence which others will be taught and performed. Many families of St. Demetrios come from the Aegean Islands and Crete. But in 2003, when the theme of our festival show was "Dances of Our Ancestors," we discovered that every region of Greece, and even Asia Minor, was represented by at least one of our dancers' families, so we try to teach as much a variety as possible.

Dancing at 2012 Festival

Each year, our festival shows have a different theme: "A Tour of Greece-1999", "Tribute to the 20th Century-2000", "A Village Wedding-2001," "Remembering Asia Minor-2002," "Dances of Our Ancestors-2003", and "The Olympic Games-2004."  In creating these programs, we strive to focus on various dances of the many regions. We are always trying to expand the number of dances in our repertoire. In addition to the ones handed down by past instructors at St. Demetrios, we have also learned from instructors from the other Cleveland churches, Olympia Christides of Sts. Constantine and Helen and Freda Vassilakis of Annunciation. Our own Presvytera Kathryn shared some choreography from Cincinnati, where she grew up. And our 2003 guest instructor, Staci Lagouteris, taught us several dances done by the adult dance group in Orlando, Florida.

We also attend the annual Diocese of Pittsburgh Dance Workshops, taught by visiting professional folk groups such as the Hellas Dancers of Clearwater, Florida, led by Keith Mastorides.

And we encourage any dancers who visit Greece with their families, to observe the dances done in their region and bring back recordings, if possible.