The dances of Macedonia just like the costumes are colorful and vary from area to area, as the folk Greek music in the region. The list of dances originating from the region of Macedonia is endless, as they have numerous variations due to many additions and changes that occurred throughout the years.
The names of the dances are very weird sometimes and refer to local names or even female given names. In some cases, the name of the song goes with the word Havasi, the Turkish word for dance, which is adopted by the local dialect of Northern Greece.
The most known Macedonian Folk Dances
The most known Macedonian Folk Dances are the “Partalos” and “Tsourapia”. Both dances have many variations, especially since they are popular in the western part of southern Balkans, including Greece, Bulgaria, Fyrom.
Partalos – A dance from the area of Roumlouki in Western Macedonia. Partalos is a male dance made up of six steps. The men hold hands with outstretched arms or hold from the shoulders. The name of the dance is derived from the word Partalia, which means rags. A beautiful woman from Pylea was known to wear Partalia, thus they dedicated the dance to this beautiful woman. The dance is fast paced and is made up of a series of leaps and squats. Partalso is also danced at weddings. In this case, the groom leads the dance, next to the groom would follow his nonos (godfather), the koumbaros (best man) and then the rest of the bridal party.
Tsourapia – A dance from Western Macedonia. A popular circular dance also called Pardala Tsourapia, Kambano More Mitro, Pardales kaltses, Serenin tsourap and Sareve Tsourapia. The name of the dance means colorful socks – pardala tsourapia. The word sareve also means colorful in local dialect. In the town of Florina, many dancers wear colorful socks when dancing this dance. The movement of the dance begins towards the right then moves towards the left of the circle.
Other popular dances of Macedonia
Gaida : a male dance to the sound of the bagpipe (gaida) that starts off slow and ends up being very fast. It is danced in most towns and villages in various forms.
Nizamikos : men in Naoussa dance this particular Macedonian dance. According to tradition, the Nizamithes were Turkish tax collectors. The inhabitants of the town would invite them to dance with them, the Nizamithes would become excited and join in the dance and celebration and in turn lower, the share of taxes they would pay.
Moustambeikos: A dance that is popular in the Carnival in Naoussa in the Apokries. This Macedonian dance cannot be found in workshops usually, because it’s local, but if you are lucky and visit the area during Carnival you will find someone willing to teach it to you. If you want to dance this particular dance, you should be dressed with the traditional costume of Naoussa, called boules.
Kastorianos: A dance from Kastoria in Macedonia. It mimics being stubborn with the dancers hitting the palm of their hands. In Kastoria depending on the occasion, it is either danced in a mixed circle of men and women or just women.
Astri kai feggaraki: A dance from Roumlouki in Macedonia. It translates to the stars and the moon. It is danced by women and at certain points in the dance, the women make an loud sound, as if asking for something.This is also done in the horos Epiklisis.
Dimitroula: A female dance from Imathias. This dance is made up of twelve simple steps. The dance is named after the name of the tune called Dimitroula, a popular female name that comes from the Saint Demitrius (Patron Saint of Thessaloniki).
Pousnitsa: A dance from Edessa where the male dancers fall onto their knees and spring back up into the air. It is usually danced on a flat backing tray. It is very impressive dance and very fun to watch, although hard to learn!
Levendikos: A popular dance from Florina danced in a mixed circle. Variations to the dance exist in the small villages around Florina. Levendikos comes from the Greek word levendis which means brave, audacious man and refers to a dance danced by young, strong and bold men.
Ormali: a dance from the areas around Serres. Men lead the dance while women follow at the end of the circle. The dance is accompanied by a Zourna and daouli. Ormanli dance differs from region to region. For example, in Skotousa and Koimisi they dance it differently than in Vamvakophyto. The name of the dance probably comes from the Turkish word “orman”, which means forest.
Sometimes it takes only a physical barrier between villages to create a major difference in steps for the same dance. Such is the case with the dance Mangoustar Havasi in the villages of Kimisi and Podnismeno near Iraklia, the two separated by a highway.
The two villages had a long rivalry so they changed completely the styling and steps of the same dance: the difference is so extreme that the dance is basically unrecognizable. In Kimisi, the instruments used are zournas and daouli, with large movements and slow, high leg lifts by the men, while in Pondismeno the instruments are Macedonian lyra and dahares, with more subtle movements and low leg lifts.