Old (forgotten) Cretan Dances

The Lassithi Pidihtos

Lassithi Pidihtos - Megalakakides

One of those from the ‘leaping’ family of Cretan dance-forms – all with a common origin in the old Pyrrichios dance. In it were expressed the nobility and modesty of the East Cretans. It Siteia, it is called ‘Stiako’ and in Ierapetra Gerapetritiko’.

Without a doubt, it is the most representative dance of East Crete.


Trizalis - Megalakakides

Another ‘leaping’ dance, performed only in the Rethymnon prefecture – and chiefly in the area of Ampadia in the Amari district. The name of this complicated dance is from Tri (=three) and zala (=jumps/steps). It is performed whilst holding hands up, and with the elbows bent.


Priniotis - Megalakakides

This is one of the endangered dances of the island. It was basically performed once in the mountainous regions, especially in Lassithi.

It has various forms. The dance opens in its first part with the men, with hands held aloft, moving away and backwards from the women who face them. Men and women continue to dance in opposite directions until they reunite, once more forming the circle with which the dance began.

Pidihtos from Anogeia

Pidihtos from Anogeia - Megalakakides

This is a war-like dance from the Anogeia region – characterized by jumps, rapid steps and loud stampings of the foot on the ground.

It is alleged that it descends from the old dance of the Kouretes who with their footsteps and clash of arms tried to cover up the cries of the newborn Zeus.


Xenobasaris - Megalakakides

A slow dance, reminiscent of the Siganos, and arguably a local version of the same. The melody is graceful and full of joy... egging on the dance.

The name comes from a couplet sung at the start of the dance – with an allegorical reference to basil. Once it was sung and danced at every festival, especially in the mountainous areas of Ierapetra and Merambelo.


Zervodexos - Megalakakides

A joyful and comic dance, performed at Carnival in the Spring. It is called Zervodexos, because the dancers move now to the left (zerva) and now the right (dexia).

The changes in direction occur when the lyra-player produces a specific high note.


Katsambadianos - Megalakakides

This has 11 steps, and is performed to the accompaniment of a lyra: probably a version of the Pentozales. Much danced in Rethymnon, and more specifically the Amari valley, it is also found in the neighbouring regions.

It is said that it was first performed in 1800 at Ampadia in Amari – hence its name.


Dames (daam-ez in pronunciation) is a circle dance from some villages of the Rethymnon and Chania prefectures. The woman holds in her left hand a handkerchief, whilst the man next to her holds its other end. When the lyra-player sings out ‘Dama’, the male releases the handkerchief and dances with the woman opposite him.

Other Forgotten Dances

There are plenty of these, some but variations on existing themes; thus, the Apanomeritis, the Roumathiani Sousta, the Rodo, the Dournerakia, the Lazotis or Lazotikos etc.

Info: www.cretan-music.gr

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