Cirtaki - a symbol of Greece and the wealth of the Greek people
Sirtaki is the youngest Greek dance whose story deserves a separate film. If you ask a tourist who just returned from Greece what he remembered the most, he will certainly call this dance style. What is remarkable about it and how did it come about? Find answers to these questions in our article.
What is sirtaki. Distinctive features of dance
This is a Greek dance that originated in the 60s of the XX century thanks to one resourceful American. But some sources of style can still be traced in the ancient culture of Greece.
It is believed that the basis of this genre are three Greek dance.
- Hasapiko is an ancient warrior dance of the Greeks. Historical information about this style is little known. According to legends, butchers danced at Hassapiko on Easter, which is why it is often called the “butcher's dance”. Moreover, from Turkish "Kasap" is translated as "meat trader", which again confirms the origin of the direction. With sirtaki hasapiko, the dancers are united in rows when all the dancers put their hands on each other's shoulders.
- Hassaperviko is a quick version of hasapiko. The Serbs, who came to Byzantium around IX, came up with a quick tempo of dance. Their contribution to the development of the genre can be traced in the title: Hasaposervico. The rest of the dance is similar to its progenitor, Hasapiko.
- Syrtos - the true folk dance of the Greeks. In the modern view, this is a whole group of styles that unites cultures from various Greek regions. From Sirtos sirtaki inherited slow pas.
Can't wait to find out how sirtaki dance? In general terms, it looks like this:
- a group of dancers stands in a row, because Sirtaki alone do not dance;
- each puts his hands on the shoulders of his neighbor, thus forming a long chain of like-minded people;
- then the music is played and the dancers begin to perform slow figures of the dance, gradually accelerating and reaching apotheosis;
- basic movements: smooth, sliding steps, half-squats, sharp attacks and jumps. All steps are performed synchronously.
Now imagine what energy is present on the dance floor when the sirtaki is performed by 20 or 50 people! The drawing of the dance captures and bewitches, forcing the Greeks to admire the unity and friendship. But all this would be impossible without music. Let's talk about it in more detail.
"Stop! Shot!" - With these words, Michalis Kakoyannis completed the work on the film "The Greek Zorba" in 1964, not knowing what success awaits his work. But three Oscars of 7 nominations fade in comparison with the love of viewers around the world to the Sirtaki dance, which was first performed in this film.
Yes, the genre was born on the film set, and his father is considered the American actor Anthony Quinn, who played the role of Zorba. Thanks to him, or rather his broken leg, the dance entered the masses and became the hallmark of Greece. The case was as follows.
According to the script, Quinn was supposed to perform an ancient Greek dance on the seashore. He had to make quick and bouncing movements. But before filming, the actor broke his leg, and the original choreography responded with pain in the injured limb. We had to come up with something. And then Quinn replaced the fast movements with slow ones. Instead of jumping, he began to slide on the sand, making smooth and cautious steps.
Michalis Kakoyannis, the film director, was intrigued by the new dance and hurried to find out its name. "Sirtaki," Quinn replied, referring to a local who allegedly acted as an actor's teacher. It turns out that both the choreography and the name of the dance were invented by the main character of the film. Although in relation to the last point there is another version. She says that the Frenchman who was present at the shooting was involved in the title. He was interested in the question of the creators of the original Greek dance. He was quick to answer that the basis is the most ancient dance of the Greeks, Sirtos. The Frenchman instantly softened this name, turning it into sirtaki.
The end of filming was the beginning of the popularity of the style among the local population and far beyond the borders of Greece. But before gaining fame, the dance had to "survive" heated debate during the installation. The fact is that Kakoyannis wanted to change the music in the episode where Quinn dances. But the film crew unanimously decided to preserve the melody of Mikis Theodorakis - so accurately she described the character of the Greek people.
"Greek Zorba" with its simple and uncomplicated tune continued the era of "Greek excitement" that prevailed in the 60s. Europe was already caught up in Melina’s dance from the film “Guys from Piraeus,” when sirtaki appeared on the scene. He began to learn in higher circles around the world, increasingly penetrating the Greek culture.
The dance flourished in New York, where at the end of the 60s there were at least 10 clubs with Greek music. Their frequent customers were not only the Greeks. Among those who wanted to learn sirtaki were Marlon Brando, Van Heflin and other famous personalities.
Interestingly, the dance continued to be used in other Greek films. Thus, in the 1966 film My Daughter is a Socialist, it is performed by Alik Vuyuyarka.
In a short time, Sirtaki conquered the love of the Greeks and became a national treasure. However, he still does not lose this title. Sirtaki and Greece are inseparable, although the dance was never considered popular. This fact makes one wonder: why are the Greeks so imbued with his movements and music? It's time to answer this question.
Sirtaki as a reflection of the national character
"Greek Zorba" was mainly filmed in Crete. The inhabitants of the island, as well as the entire population of Greece, lead a calm, measured lifestyle. They all do it slowly, without forcing events. This behavior is very similar to the beginning of sirtaki, filled with smooth movements.
But it is necessary to ask the Greek to hurry, as he begins to fuss and bother with the speed of light. At this point, the connection between the Greek mentality and the accelerating pace of sirtaki is clearly visible.
Even the mayor of Athens, who held this post in the 60s, noted the similarity of the dance with the lifestyle of the Greeks. In his opinion, they are also slowly drawn into any business, gradually accelerating and reaching the beyond speed.
So it turns out that Sirtaki is a subtle understanding of the psychology of the Greek character, translated into the language of dance and music. No wonder why style became a symbol of Greece.
- When you watch the film "Greek Zorb" you can see that Quinn is dancing sometimes fast, then slowly. How is this possible if the actor had a broken leg? It's simple. In scenes with a quick performance of sirtaki we see a backup, not Quinn.
- The popularity of the Sirtaki dance brought Anthony Quinn not only fame, but also allowed her to become an honorary citizen of Greece. This title was awarded to the actor in the 90s. By the way, all in his career was about 4 - 5 films, including "The Greek Zorba", in which he played the role of a Greek.
- A lot of honors went to Mikis Theodorakis, the author of the Sirtaki music. Thus, the USSR government awarded him the Order of Lenin. By the way, many residents of the post-Soviet space remember Sirtaki with warmth and participation in his group performance.
- In an interview to a question about the origin of Sirtaki, Michalis Kakoyannis answered that Quinn was simply too lazy to learn choreography. He did not mention any broken leg.
- One of the admirers of Sirtaki was Aristotle Onassis, a famous Greek entrepreneur and billionaire.
- In November 2011, the French entered the Place La Defense in Paris in order to massively perform sirtaki and support the Greek population in difficult times.
- On August 31, 2012, more than 6,000 dancers gathered on the embankment of the Greek city of Volos. Their goal was the execution of the longest sirtaki for the Guinness Book of Records. The collection of applications for participation lasted for several months, and the rehearsals lasted about 30 days. As a result, 5,612 people took part in the synchronous sirtaki, which was fixed by the international Guinness committee. By the way, 1,672 people were involved in setting the previous record. It happened in 2010 in Cyprus.
- A very negative attitude towards Sirtaki took shape in Peru. The melody of dance here is firmly associated with the leader of the Shining Path organization Abimael Guzmán. At one of the meetings, he performed the famous Greek dance, and this brought on the negative Peruvian style.
- In a different way, sirtaki is called Zorba’s dance, in honor of the film’s main character, as well as friendship of friendship due to the atmosphere of rallying on the stage.
- In 1967 in Greece came the musical film "Sirtaki". The tape is filled with love, romance and the desire to enjoy life, no matter what - that is characteristic of the dance itself.
- Greek dance ensembles perform Sirtaki in national costumes - chitons.
The best music for sirtaki
This is definitely "Zorba's dance" Mikisa Theodorakis. It is simply impossible to imagine a style without this musical accompaniment with an increasing pace. Before writing the unofficial anthem of Greece, Mikis had to go through World War II and experience all the tortures of the Nazis, being in captivity.
The cruelty and heartlessness of the Germans did not break the friendly spirit of the young self-taught musician. After the war, he graduated from the Athens Conservatory and began to create. The main source of inspiration for Mikis was the musical culture of Crete. It is under her influence that he composes music for "Zorba". The composer himself sees nothing remarkable in the melody, although he notes that there is a zest in it.
Zorba's dance (listen)
Mikis introduced fashion not only to sirtaki, but also bouzouki. This stringed plucked instrument, known in Greece since ancient times. It is bouzouki who accompanies the dancers and sets the mood of the dance. This musical instrument is even dedicated to a separate holiday, which is called the Buzuki holiday. They begin to celebrate it at midnight and enjoy the Greek dances to its sound until 3 - 4 in the morning.
I would like to finish acquaintance with sirtaki with the words of the main character of the film “My Great Greek Summer”. “What are the Greeks doing?” Georgia asks and immediately gives an answer. “They are dancing!” We can only add: dancing sirtaki selflessly and inspired.