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.
2 thoughts on “Popular dances of Macedonia”
Thank you for the nice interesting information of the various musical histories!!!! Είναι Πολύ Ωραίο Δικτυακός Τόπος Ευχαριστώ Πολύ!!!!
My Grandson could only speak Greek, until the lock down separated us. From the age of three he would pick up the Greek music he heard in our house all day long. When he was tired he would lie on a blanket on the floor and hum the tunes while looking at his picture books for hours; he did not sleep.
During the lock down he would attend a three and four year olds education centre. His main teacher is a Greek speaking lovely Chinese young lady. As most of the class speaks only English, she teaches in English. I do not understand how she manages to make these babies understand everything from philosophy, the position of all the planets and stars in our universe to botany and the protection of the earth from pollution; and, much more. Above all she teaches the babies to show respect for everyone.
When he visited at us again he spoke to us in English. He has his own tablet and listens to music. Every time we open our door to him he sings and dances like one of his favourite African Americans to show his joy. The music I thought was a poor part of what African Americans have given to the whole world musically.
I was hoping to be in Greece with him to listen to the fine Chants of the Churches; and, the different music of every village in Macedonia and the remainder of Greece and the Balkans. I wanted his brain to be “wired” in the same manner as most people from Portugal to Afghanistan are. This “brain wiring” is called a blessing from Alexander, other say it’s a curse. Either way it makes me want to dance; no matter which of my neighbours is having a celebration with loud music, it is a joy.
In the late morning when they come to apologise for the celebration going on till early in the morning, I say “it was music to my ears; I hope you do it more often”. I fall asleep after a few hours with the bed room balcony doors open. When they have live musicians it’s much better. I do not sleep; I get a bottle of Portuguese fortified wine sit on the timber floor of the balcony and listen. Our house on the upper side of the deep ravine picks up music as if we are on the top edge of an ancient Greek Theatre. I was sad at one stage when I noticed we no longer had 25% of all our Greek friends not playing a musical instrument. I have noticed that in every house an electronic “instrument” delivers every type of music that is available on this earth.