The Syrtos in Lesvos 2
by Christos on Sunday, November 27, 2005
There are many ways of dancing Syrtos in Lesvos. Sometimes, indeed, they are treated as different dances, but the rhythm and basic step are the same, and often you will find different groups of dancers in the same place dancing in different ways to the same music. They choose the way they dance according to the music, the number of dancers in the group, and the space available, as well, of course, as personal preference.
The music is in 2/4 time, and one heavy step followed by two lighter half-steps (SLOW-quick-quick). The local style is characterised by an up-and-down movement from the knees.
The way the dance is done depends on the number of dancers in the group, and the way the music is played - the tempo, style and emphasis.
Three or more dancers dancing in a chain or circle: Simple running step
When many dancers are dancing in a chain or circle, there is not much opportunity for individual variation. Often they use a simple running step to the right (stepping SLOW-quick-quick). This is the step that tourists do at Greek Nights. This is also the step taught to children in beginners classes.
It can be varied by moving backwards to the right (turning the body to the left to do so) or by doing a pausing step where the left foot crosses over to the right on the half-steps, and then the right foot crosses over to the left. Sometimes the leader will lead the line into snake-like patterns, doubling back on itself, or lead the line through a gap under the arms of two other dancers in the line. Alternatively, the leader and the dancer next to him may form an arch with their arms, which the the rest of the line will thread through.
If there is room, and the line is not too long, the dancers may introduce a pausing forward and back pattern at high points in the music, sometimes raising their hands as they step forward.
Dancers in a shorter line or smaller circle will often use what folk dancers call a grapevine pattern. This is where the dancers move slowly to the right, with the left foot going first behind the right foot, and then in front of it.