Welcome to Christopher Copeman's Dance Notebook. This is a personal and informal collection of notes and pictures relating to Greek folk dance, arising from more than thirty years' observation of dancing in Greece and Cyprus. The work continues, and many of the comments and opinions will probably be modified in the light of later experience.



Videos on YouTube
Posted by Christos on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I have now put some of my videos of dancing in Lesvos on YouTube.
To find one of them, click here
This will give you links to "more from this user".

Twelve years on ...
Posted by Christos on Thursday, March 08, 2007

I have been looking again at some of the videos I have recorded in the thirteen years that I have had a camcorder.

I am struck by the difference between my pictures of the Sardine Festival in Skala Kallonis in 1994, and the Festival in the last few years.

In 1994, the Square was full of people dancing - mostly local people, but a few visitors too.

In 2006, the Square was full of tables, with people eating and drinking (and paying of course) and half-watching a performance by a trained dancing group. Very few of the people in the Square are actually dancing.

The other big difference is in the music. In 1994, most of the music was traditional music, much of it songs from old Smyrna. In 2006, most of the music is modern 'pop', songs that come from the recordings made by the big recording companies in Athens.
The reason for the change is of course commercial. Putting on the Festival is very expensive, especially when the performers come from Athens and further afield. The cost is borne by the Municipality, who are keen to draw in people from all over Greece, from all over Europe and indeed from all over the world to visit the village as paying tourists. The bars and tavernas in the village are expected to contribute to the cost, and not unreasonably they expect some return on their investment. People who are eating and drinking pay bills; people who are dancing do not. And so the Square is now full of people sitting at tables, rather than people dancing. Nowadays there is not much room for dancing!

The Zeybek Rhythms and dances of Greece and Lesvos
Posted by Christos on Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Panagiotis Agiakatsikas has written an excellent musical survey of the nine-beat dances of Lesvos, which you can find on his website at http://www.iera.gr/mousiki/index.htm
This contains details of the various Zeybekika and Karsilamas rhythms, together with readily available examples of the songs. This is a most valuable resource for those who are interested in the dances of Lesvos.

Fishermen's Party in Skala Kallonis
Posted by Christos on Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Unfortunately I cannot be in Lesvos for the official Sardine Festival this year. I was therefore delighted to be invited to an "unofficial Sardine Festival" a few weeks ago! This was a local event for the fishermen and their families and friends, like the Sardine Festival in the old days, with local music and spontaneous dancing - truly traditional - ordinary villagers dancing for themselves, in the way they are in the habit of dancing, rather than semi-professional "dancers" acting the part of ordinary villagers. They went on dancing until the early morning, when the fishermen had to go out in their boats to catch the next day's sardines!

The pictures show fishermen and their friends dancing Syrtos.

Posted by Christos on Saturday, June 03, 2006

Looking again at my past comments on the Lesvos Syrtos, I realise that all my talk about SLOW-quick-quick gives the impression that these moves are three separate steps. Except when people are doing the simple running step, this is not usually what happens.

The SLOW is the only proper step. The others are just readjustments of the free foot to get ready for the next SLOW.

Thus, if the SLOW is a step with the right foot, the left foot then comes to a new position (usually close to the right foot), touches down for a moment (the first quick) and then lifts again (the second quick) and then heads off for the next SLOW step. Most of the body weight remains on the right foot throughout.

When teaching, it is probably better to treat the quick-quick as a simple closing step - RIGHT-close, LEFT-close - and tell them to do a little bob on the closing step.

I am afraid this is all sounds most complicated, but I felt I must correct this impression - I cant bear seeing (and hearing) step-conscious learners clip-clopping around with unnecessary steps! It possibly derives from teachers who place too much emphasis on separate steps, and I have no wish to be one of them!

Videos of Dances from Lesvos
Posted by Christos on Tuesday, May 30, 2006

At last some videos of dances from Lesvos on the Internet!

My friend Panagiotis Agiakatsikas has updated his website with some excellent videos of the "Theofilos" Dancing group from Petroupolis! They are dancing Syrtos (Ballos), Karsilamas, and Aivaliotikos. Panagiotis is playing the guitar and his daughter is playing the Santouri. You can find the videos at http://www.iera.gr/mousiki/videos.htm (the link is on my Links page)

I wish I was able to put videos like this on my website - the best I can do is put links to them!


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