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Dimitra Karkoulia

The dance of CosIsland as a vehicle of moral principles.

Karkoulia, Dimitra: "The dance of CosIsland as a vehicle of moral principles", 16th International Congress on Dance Research, Corfu, Greece, 30/10-3/11, 2002.


The present report presents the results of an investigation in the field, which was carried out in the island of Kos during the summer of 2002. The sample that was used in the specific investigation was constituted by old people, in their majority, who had got a special relationship with the dance either as dancers or as observers of traditional festivals.

At the beginning of the presentation, there is a brief review of the history of the island, which enlightens the multi-cultural identity of the island since the historical years. The existence of a great variety of people, coming from different places and cultures, exerted strong influence on the special cultural identity of the island, which is clearly apparent in the local dances.

After the review of the history of the place, there will be a brief presentation of the dances that the interviewees referred most. These dances are either local or they have come from different places such as Crete, Aegean islands, Peloponnisos and Turkey. Some of the most popular dances in Kos are Sianos (that means slow), Sirtos, Mpalos, Kalamatianos (that comes from Kalamata, a place of Peloponnisos) and Karsilamas, which is danced by one dancer, like Zeimpekikos. There will also be a presentation of some dances that people dance only in specific cases, such as Nificatos, which is danced only during the festival after the marriage, the Kohala, which is a local dance for the carnival festivities and the Dance of the Cup, which is danced in Kardamena, a village of Kos, in 8th of September.

The next part of the presentation refers to the models of behavior that people in Kos should follow so as to be accepted in their social groups. Such models concern the way that someone should request a specific dance, how he should ask a woman to dance, who should be included in the dance and how the observers of the dance would criticize the dancers. Special emphasis would be put on the reasons of quarrels during dances in the past. Such reasons had to do with the honour of a family and, especially, the dignity of women. Needless to say that this kind of subjects does not exist any more, since the moral structures of social groups have become more progressive and open to new ideas. Especially in the case of Kos, where the tourism has greatly increased during the last decades, culture has accepted the influences of tourists and it has dramatically changed. However, even in the present, young people continue to dance local dances during festivals and some customs, such as this of Kohala, are still alive.

The presentation ends with the suggestion for more research relating with dance and its social aspects, as this subject has many elements to reveal and many information to give to the researchers of the future.

Dimitra Karkoulia



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