The music and dance tradition of Crete reflects its history, its culture, and the experiences of its inhabitants.
As a result, the Cretan dances have at the same time religious, martial and erotic elements.
Religious elements are evident in the circular and slow dances, such as the “Haniotikos” dance with its expressions and the “Siganos” one.
The martial elements are intense in dances with “jumps”, more aggressive and lively dances. “Maleviziotis” or “Kastrinos” and “Pentozalis” are the most famous of this category of dances.
The erotic element predominates in the dance “Sousta”.
In other words, we would say that traditional Cretan dance is an art; an art that requires decent dance ethics, and respect to the dance heritage and etiquette.
The “Siganos” is a slow-moving and easy dance, in which the dancers are held by the shoulders. The dance completes in six or eight steps. They dance it with eight steps in the area of Mylopotamos. They use six steps in Heraklion.
When many people dance Siganos, a helical circle is formed. This represents the exit of Theseus from the Labyrinth.
Today, a series of bantering, erotic, longing and painful “mantinades” accompany the purpose of the dance. Moreover, Siganos is quite similar to Pentozali, so the latter usually follows the first at feasts and at events.
“Pentozalis” is a fast-paced dance with impressive figures. It is danced all over Crete by men and women, holding hands by the shoulders. Its style is reminiscent of remnants ancient martial dance form.
In Crete “Zala” means steps. So the name of the dance came from “five Zala”, because the dance has 5 steps.
Pentozalis is an enthusiastic, jumpy, “aggressive”, dance. It highlights the manliness of his dancers and gives the opportunity to many improvisations and spectacular jumps, under its vibrant sounds of violin and lute.
“Haniotis” is a circular dance, which is danced in all over Crete, mainly in the area of Chania. Men and women dance it with hands in distance, and handles upwards. The steps are 12 and measured at 3.
The dance is accompanied by a lyre or violin, lute, mandolin or askomandoura. There is a great variety of dance purposes. There is a great variety of dance purposes. So there is a different way of performing the dance depending on the area. They dance it different in Kissamos than in Heraklion or Lasithi.
First dancer leads the circle. He has the ability to improvise by doing small variations in steps to form figures. He has also the ability to detach from the circle, to make turns giving a magic at the dance.
The female first-dancer attaches much more importance to dance expression than to skillfulness. She does not make jumps but small decent steps with harmony in body and foot movement. She makes turns and dance with grace.
Kastrinos or Maleviziotis
It is a representative dance of Crete. Men and women, all over the island, dance it, mainly in Heraklion and the area of Malevizi. For this reason took the name “Kastrinos” from the area of Heraklion, which formerly called “Kastro”. It is also named “Maleviziotis”.
They dance to the toes of foot with quick and lively steps, using handhold from the palms and their elbows bent.
The steps being 16 and performed in three ways: either 8 to the right, starting with the right foot and another 8 to the left, starting with the left, either 8 steps forward towards the center, and 8 steps backwards, or on the ground, when the “leader dancer” performs various figures such as turns, jumps, and dance-scissors.
It got its name from the rhythmic up and down movement of the body and the gentle dancers’ suspensions while performing the steps.
Dancers begin in a circle with handhold from the palms and their elbows bent. They continue with the formation of pairs facing each other, having an erotic character. The couple is approaching and separated by cute rhythmic movements. Women have their hands on their waists, while men move them freely.
The dance consists of 6 steps, which are measured by 3. In addition, Sousta has a lot of impressive figures.