Greece Culture: Music and Dance Intro Page 1
Yvonne Hunt, author of Traditional Dance in Greek Culture, has been teaching and researching traditional Greek dances for more than 25 years. She has taught seminars and workshops throughout Greece, the USA, Canada and Europe. Her research has been presented at many international symposia and conferences, as well as in academic journals. She has taught at several universities and is a research associate of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies in Athens. contact: email@example.com Much of the following is based on Ms. Hunt's book.
Greece has a vast music and dance tradition, which varies from region from region, and sometimes even from village to village. It encompasses not only the music from areas within modern Greece, but also the music of Greeks who lived in parts of what is now Turkey, forced to leave with the 'exchange of populations' between Greece and Turkey in 1923. This event was dictated by the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, which followed the failed Greek attempt, after the collapse of the Ottoman empire, to reclaim territories in Anatolia which had been Greek during the previous 1100 year Byzantine empire.
Greek music and dance is depicted on the pottery and other artwork of ancient Greece, long pre-dating the adoption of Christianity during Byzantine times, though the Orthodox church since then has played an immense role in the performing of both music and dance, with church paneyiria (saints' day celebrations), yiortes (name day celebrations of individuals, villages and towns), Apokries (pre Lenten festivities), Paskha (Greek Orthodox Easter), or Khristouyenna (Christmas), weddings, baptisms, soil fertility celebrations (obviously pre-Christian, though they may also coincide with saints' days, just as Paskha coincides with the celebration of the resurrection of the earth after the long 'death' of the earth in winter).
Apart from events connected with the church, music and dance in Greece (as in most traditional cultures worldwide) is deeply connected with place -- the local/regional community -- with food, wine, and (most often) with high spirits, these often sufficient cause for instruments to be taken out of their cases; for people to sing and dance. The difference between such spontaneous events and staged musical performances cannot be overemphasized, nor can it be easily 'explained' to those who have not experienced it. Certainly this music comes from the same source as 'religious' feelings, and blurs the boundaries between organized religion and its polytheistic, nature-oriented predecessors.