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George Kongas

Dances of Veria.

Kongas, George: "Dances of Veria",16th International Congress on Dance Research, Corfu, Greece, 30/10-3/11, 2002.

At this congress two years ago I referred generally to the musical anddancing tradition of the town of Veria in Western Macedonia. This year I will refer entirely to its dances.In Veria, public dances and other entertainments were done at an open spacewhere mainly women and rarely men were dancing. Except the seven-time rhythms with a lot of melodies, dances with twoor three steps and dances like Hassapikos, there are also free categoriesof dancing as regards the form of movement. The music tones are the same as in the rest of Greek area. The musical instruments which accompanied the dances are the violin, thetraditional "outi", the percussion instrument like a small drum made of clayand the "defi".

1. Synkathistos or Daktilidia

Veria's "hymm", is a dance known as Synkathistos or otherwise Daktilidia, from the style and the dancing expression. The women dancers were wearing about two rings at every finger. They were holding their right hand bended and parallel to the ground, in a way that the back of the palm is looking above at shoulder level. Among their fingers, exactly between the middle and the next finger, they were holding a handkerchief folded like a triangle. The left hand stretched facing downwards in a slightly diagonial way to the body, and the palm stretched outwards and parallel to the floor. There is a serious expression on the face, without contraction. This dance was danced only by girls, one opposite the other and usually in a wedding, to accompany the bride going from her house to the church. It was also danced when there was an arranged marriage, and the grooms' parents were going to see the canditate bride. During this entertainment the engaged girl was dancing with her girl friends the dance known as Synkathistos, which is a harmonic combination of movement and sensitive music. As regards the movement, it is based on a set of three steps and every four sets the musical pattern changes.

2. Patinada

This dance has the same imposition and distinguished appearance of the dancers as well as the same upright setting of the body. It's danced by women in every social activity.

3. Little Marble Fountain

It is accompanied, like the previous dance, with the song "Little marble fountain, how long can you keep the water cold?" a subject also known in songs from other regions. It consists of eight steps which are absolutely fitting with the music pattern.

4. The Little Shepherdess

It is a circular dance, that is danced only by women one opposite the other, with three patterns of movement and a seven-time rhythm.It is danced with a song accompaniment.

5. A daughter Talked to Me

A sort of circular dance with twelve dragging steps, a well-known movement and a seven-time rhythm. The song that accompanies the dance reminds us of the well known song of Macedonia "My red apple".

6. Twelve Months in the Army

It is a mixed dance that was danced by two groups of dancers. One group was singing and the other was answering. It has a seven-time rhythm, and two patterns of movement.

7. The Wedding Dance

It is circular dance that was danced only by women in pairs, with the accompaniment of a sweet melody, a variation of a local dance, probably that of the "Little Shepherdess".

8. Palikaraki (The young man)

A dance rather mixed and circular that was danced with the accompaniment of a love song with lyrics of gossip. It has two patterns of movement, in three phases.

9. The Ant

It's the most peculiar and unusual circular dance. It's danced only by men one opposite the other. It represents the activity of pressing the grapes by feet. The dancers are holding by the palms and palms downwards. It is accompanied by a mocking song: "Where are you going you ant master?", that was sung by Marisa Koch.

10. Gaida

It's a dance spread out all over Macedonia, as well as in other regions in Greece. Every region has its own style. Veria has its own peculiar Gaida. At the beginning the dance is rather slow, while later the rhythm accelerates. As regarding the pattern of movement, it has similarities as well as differences with the other variations.

11. Syrtos

We complete the description of Veria's dances with the dance Syrtos. It is a woman's peculiar, circular and imposing dance, with steps to the front and to the back. It consists of eight sets of three steps forwards like zig zag and four sets of three steps backwards.

Besides all these dances that we referred above, the rich Veria's tradition in songs notifies that there were also in Veria dances with two and three phases, as well as dances like Hasapiko. We must point out that these dances were danced inside the common yards of the houses in the city's districts and very seldom in the streets. Mainly by the men, with the accompaniment of musical instruments like zournas or gaida. I have no serious information about the dances danced in the streets.

George Kongas



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