Sirtaki (alternatively spelled Syrtaki) is one of the most popular Greek dances, choreographed by Giorgos Provias for the 1964 film ‘Zorba the Greek’ or the ‘Dance of Zorba’ with music by the renowned Mikis Theodorakis.
The birth of Sirtaki dance
The name Sirtaki or Syrtaki comes from the Greek word "syro" and "syrtos" (which means dragged), a common name for a group of traditional Greek dances of the "dragging" style, which is opposite to pidiktos, the leaping type of dance. In general, we can say that Sirtaki incorporates elements from dances, the syrtos (in its slower part) and pidiktos (in its faster part).
The music composed by Mikis Theodorakis was inspiring and uplifting and gave the choreographer the chance to create this type of dance that would become internationally known and recognized.
This dance which is shown at the end of the movie became much later the most distinctive Greek dance and was named Sirtaki. Even if by chance, you haven't seen Zorba, you have to be at least familiar with the main title theme and the song, which, among other things, has been used in various commercials and sport events for years to uplift the spirits and encourage the fans to root for the home teams.
Sirtaki is danced in a line - and in some cases in circle formation - with the hands holding the other person's shoulders. Line formation is considered the traditional way of dancing.
Accordingly, the dance begins with slow and smooth moves that gradually transform into fast, vivid actions that include leaping and hopping - which are both fun to do and watch.
The meaning of Sirtaki
Although not a typical or traditional Greek dance, Sirtaki is probably the most popular one, not only due to Zorba's charming figure, but because it is an indispensable and expressive part of Greek ‘kefi’, which is the Greek way of having fun.
On 31st August 2012, the Sirtaki Dance Gunniness Record was broken by 5,614 people aged between 14-89 who danced the sirtaki for five minutes to the music of Mikis Theodorakis, ‘Zorba the Greek’, in Volos, in the North of Greece.