Cretan dances


The Cretan Traditional Dances

1.Glikomilitsa. Dance from Kissamos province. It is classified in the trolling dances. Danced by men and women in a circle, having 12 steps and hands at shoulder height. Named after the traditional song “To milon oso kremete is ti glikomilitsa”.

2.Xenompasaris is a variation of “Siganos” in Lassithi with hands cross handle and 6 steps. The second step goes forward, not backward like in “siganos”.

3.Siganos Mixed Pancretan dance, which moves clockwise, at a dancing pace of “kontylia”. The hands are either on shoulders or at shoulder height and it has six steps.

4. Ntournerakia. Mixed dance with six steps (like fast “siganos”) with clockwise motion. The handles are on the shoulders and it is probably a revision of Serbian dance, at the rate of “hasaposerviko”.

5.Priniotis or Prinianos or braiminos. Mixed local jumping from Lasithi province (Mirabello, Ierapetra), moving clockwise. Hands are crossed handle or shoulder height and it has 13 steps.

6.Stavrotos sirtos. Also called Dama in Rethymno and Paso or Fterotos Sirtos or Stavrotos Sirtos in Chania. Variation of Chaniotikos with different form. Danced in a cross-shape by 8 (4 men, 4 women). In happy occations like Halloween, it used to be danced as a game.

7.Micro – micraki. Mixed local dance of central Crete at a dancing pace of “kondylia”. The handles are at elbow height and moves clockwise

8.Lassithiotikos pidihtos. Mixed local jumping dance from Lasithi province, having two variations: “gerapetritikos pidihtos” and “steiakos pidihtos”. It has 16 steps, a clockwise motion and the handles are at elbow height. Besides this pace there is also “stiva”, which has 8 steps and is performed in the musical turn of the violin.

9. Ethianos pidihtos. Mixed local jumping dance from the village Ethia in the Asterousia Mountains. The handles are the height of the elbow and moves clockwise.

10.  Old dance of Malevizi-

11.  Leivadiwtikos pidihtos

12. Zervodexos is a joyful dance from Lassithi province, using the steps of “sousta”. Dancers are one behind the other and changing direction all together according to the violin hearing changes.

13. Sousta Rethymnou. Mixed Pancretan jumping dance with 6 steps. It is the erotic dance of Crete.

14.Rodo. Local formerly mixed dance from Lousakies Kissamos province. Today danced only by women. It consists of 17 steps, moves clockwise and belongs to trolling dances. The handles are the height of the elbow

15.Roumatiani sousta or gitsikia. Jumping dance from Kissamos province. Before 1950 it was danced by men and women but today only by men. It has evident war elements (originates from the ancient pyrrhic dance) and the steps imitate the movement of goats. It has six steps moving forward and then backward.  The handles are the height of the elbow.

16. Apanomeritis. Formerly mixed dance of central Crete, moving clockwise, which today is danced only by women. The handles are at elbow height and has 10 steps.

17.  Pidihtos Mylopotamos or Anogianos pidihtos. Jumping dance of Mylopotamos province, moving clockwise. Until the 1970s it was danced by men holding hands at elbow height and nowadays it is danced with cross handle hands.

18. Trizalis or triozalis. Jumping dance of central Crete, moving clockwise. The handles are at the height of the elbow.

19. Koutsampadianos or katsampadianos. Jumping dance of central Crete moving clockwise, which is a variation of pentozali. The etymology of the name comes from the Turkish = Katsambas (large village). In another interpretation it is pentozali danced by Captain Sifis from Ambadia -the current Amari- who participated in the revolution of Daskalogiannis in 1770. He was lame, so the music players fitted the composition to his moving ability. The handles are at shoulder height, as in pentozali.

20. Pentozali. The oral tradition says that it is a composition of Stephanos Triantafyllakis or Kioros for the Cretan revolution of Daskalogiannis in 1770-71. It has 12 musical phrases in honor of the 12 captains and 10 steps, as the revolution was declared on 10.10.1769. Men dance with the hands on shoulders (nowadays it is danced by women as well).

21. Lazotis. Mixed local dance of central Crete with the handles at elbow height and clockwise motion. It consists of a combination of two Pontiac dances, simple “Omal” and “knee tik so” and took the name from “Lazous”.

22. Gergianos pidihtos. Mixed local jumping dance from village Gergeri, moving clockwise. The handles are at the height of the elbow and is based on the traditional melody "Stou Papahatzi to mylo".

23. Chaniotikos Syrtos. The first performance of the dance is attributed to the violin player Stefanos Triantafyllakis or Kioros from Galouva Lousakies Kisamos around 1750, who based his composition on two tunes, the first of Chania and the second of Kisamos. These melodies were carried to the island by the Cretans defenders of Constantinople after the conquest in 1453. It has 11 steps, the handles are at the height of the elbow and moves clockwise.

24. Kastrinos pidihtos or Maleviziotis. Mixed Pancretan jumping dance, which moves clockwise, has 16 steps, and the handles are at the height of the elbow. It is considered to be the oldest dance of Crete, as according to the tradition it is a “pyrrhic” (war) dance.

25. Agkaliastos. Slow, trolling dance with 6 steps and a dance pace of

26. Zorbas (syrtaki): the famous syrtaki consists of six steps. The main body of the well-know melody was originally inspired by Georgio Koutsoureli, a musician from kissamos Chania. Mikis Theodorakis based on it and create the final melody.


    Aligizakis A., Cretan dance. Art and Physical Exercise, Seistron Publications, Heraklion 2005.
    Aligizakis A., The Cretan music and dance tradition in the 20th century, published by Seistron, Heraklion 2008.
    Giakoumakis S., The Tradition of Kissamos, published by the Cultural Society of Crete, Chania 2007.
    Tsouchlarakis I, Cretan dances. Myth History Tradition, Athens 2000.
    Tsouchlarakis I, The folk musical instruments in Crete, Athens 2004.
    Tsouchlarakis I, "The Dances of Crete", Greek Music Archive, digital disc.
    Hatzidaki C, Cretan music, Athens 1958.

Texts: Agisilaos K. Aligizakis