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What is a Greek dance


shygirlsmum
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My DD10 is going to do a Greek dance for our next local dance festival. 

 

At the last festival I intended to watch a Greek section to try to educate myself a little but I didn't get around to it, I am now really wishing that I had.  I really have no idea what a Greek dance is, I have looked online but I can't really find anything helpful.  I also spoke to our dance teacher and a couple of the other mum's and was told that it is a style that usually depicts a season or element, I would be really grateful if someone could point me in the right direction.

 

Thank you xx

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You're right, there's surprisingly little info to be found, but try here:

 

http://www.classicalgreekdance.co.uk/default.html

 

The one & only video I could find was this:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNRzph6A5sk

 

A shame really as this lovely and varied dance style helps tremendously with musical interpretation, acting and performance skills.

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Classical greek is a dance style that was largely popularised by Ruby Ginner, in the early part of the 20th century, based on her studies of Ancient Greece. It has it's own specific steps, just like other dance genres do, and there are sub styes, such as the athletic and lyrical styles. Themes for greek dances are often to do with the natural world, or ancient greek myths, and there is a lot of emphasis on freedom of movement and natural movement. The ISTD has a Classical Greek examination sylabus. It's a lovely genre.. my DD really enjoys Greek, but she does get told off on occasion for being turned out!

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It's a type of dance form based on classical greek art, architecture mythology etc 

 

It came about in the 50's (I think?) alongside other 'natural movement' styles in a kind of ballet breakaway.

 

Look up Ruby Ginner method. There's also some advice for teachers floating around the All England literature somewhere. 

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Thank you for the replies. I had already looked at the ISTD info and will check out the other links.

 

Its a bit of a tricky one. Obviously i wont get involved with the dance itself but dance teacher asked me to find a piece of music, can a Greek dance be done to any music? Am i right in thinking that costume is similar to lyrical (short and floaty or floaty tunic style)?

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It can be any kind of music really, yes - depends on the style and subject matter of the dance really. My DD's current Greek music is a piano piece by Einaudi. Her dance is a gentle, lyrical piece. But more athletic piece might demand a rousing piece of orchestral music. You can even dance to the spoken word (I think that is called the choric style.) Costues are usually tunics or floaty dresses, often with floral headbands and long curly hair for the "nature" themed dances.

I think you need to know the theme of the dance before you start thinking about either music or costume really. If you could manage to see a festival section, or ask the other mums at your school to show you their children's costumes, it should give you some idea.

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This is great, thank you for all your help. I have just looked at the pictures in the gallery but can't listen to the music on my phone. I will have another look from a computer.

 

it looks like a really interesting style of dance, DD struggles with using her face and expression so this might help to bring out some character.

 

Our dance school is quite a small one and only one other child does Greek so its a bit like the blind leading the blind.

 

thanks again xx

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If you could discuss the theme of the dance with your teacher and post again, some of us who have children who do this style might be able to offer some suggestions on music/costume perhaps? It's a bit difficult to offer suggestions without knowing a little more about what the theme and style of the dance will be, but if you get a bit more info I'm sure we can help a bit at least.

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Aw Greek used to be my favourite section at festivals. Our dance teacher was so strict keeping to the traditional Greek style of dance. Don't mix this section up with lyrical though as the styles are different.

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I loved watching the Greeks too (never had a Greek solo as my teacher didn't do them :-( ) I'd still like to learn Greek...from what I remember, elevation, demi pointe, absolutely no turnout, strong angular arms in a lot of cases (arms more like jazz than ballet often, there are lots of angular set arm positions). Think Greek statues & figures on vases, positions like attitude (slightly different from ballet) come from there. Seems like it would be good for dancers who are pretty good at ballet but maybe don't have the turnout!

 

There were lots of nature type dances - autumn leaves falling, spring, summer, snowflakes, listen to the sea, daisy chain, nightfall, storm etc and some more character ones like Sirens, Persephone, Pandora, Athena etc. Lots of girls had a leotard and various chiffony bits, as well as full on tunics. Lots of chiffon just from the neckline (ie no waist) type very short dresses for younger girls. Ribbons round forehead to make headbands/wreaths were popular. I remember everyone used to wear their hair half up half down till an adjudicator said the hair should be off the neck so then everyone had ballet buns...not sure if there's an actual approved way!

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My daughter used to have a loose curl hair piece attached to her bun, so it looked like a full high pony tail. Arms were strong but fingers soft. There were lots of commats , high demi points and held positions. Students definitely had to have a good feel for the music. My daughter finished festivals at the age of 10, but ballet, Greek and song and dance were always her favourites.

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Sorry - I have nothing really useful to add as I am not too clued up in the world of dance.  However, whenever I watch Greek at festivals I have learned it is "bendy leg ballet" where they wear bare feet, bend legs and arms a lot, don't point their toes and dance about a sad theme.  As I said, this is not the official description!

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I love Greek! I love the elevation, the musicality, the flow. I learned fairly traditional ISTD Greek as a teenager and so as a teacher/festival choreographer I always made sure we did it properly. I get so cross at festivals when people do technical steps incorrectly! There's a Greek technique like there's technique for everything else - I feel like some teachers just enter nice classical / lyrical dancers for Greek solos without paying much attention to the finer points of technique. Some adjudicators are very hot on it and others not so much!

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As previously mentioned I have not actually watched it danced which prompted the question. 

 

The info that I have read over the last day or two is really interesting, I like the idea of an old art form being resurrected. 

 

I am sure DD will be fine, she will be learning the dance over the summer so I will let you know how she gets on. 

 

Even though our dance school is small DD's dance teacher is quite old school and DD seems to hold her own in dance festivals and gets good exam grades, so I am assuming that technically she is ok.  (DD does go to Italia Conti Associates for a Jazz class as its not offered at our regular school and her teacher has commented on DD's good technique).

 

I think the dance teacher wanted me to find a piece of music she could choreograph a dance to it but I don't really know where to start so I will have another word her.

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Hi shygirlsmum, I have been giving this a bit of thought and come up with a few ideas for you. I must stress that I am no expert - just a "festival mum" who likes Greek - so feel free to totally disregard my suggestions if they aren't helpful.

First off, from your username I am imagining your DD as a quiet, floaty little dancer, but of course I could be completely wrong! If she is like I imagine though, I would go for a gentle piece and probably pick a "nature" theme, depicting something like an animal or season. Or a fairy - you can't go wrong with fairies! Woodland fairy, Rainbow fairy, Rose fairy etc would all work and give you lovely costuming options. Music wise, quite a lot of Debussy's compositions work well for Greek in my opinion. My DD choreographed a nice greek trio to En Bateau for a competition a few years ago, entitled River Spirits, or Water Spirits if I recall. Other composers I like for greek include Einaudi and Satie. Or there are some good ones in Carnival of the Animals, particularly the swan and aquarium pieces would lend themselves to this type of dance. Harp music suits this genre I think, so maybe get one of Catrin Finch's albums as she has recorded some nice arrangements. Another artist I love is the violinist Angele Dubeau. Her recent album Blanc has some lovely pieces on - I have my eye (ear?) on a few for my own DD to dance to!

If you want to use an actual Greek theme, how about Eros, with his wings bow and arrow? I have seen this done nicely by younger girls. A lot of the Greek myths are a bit dark though, and personally I don't like to see little ones doing tragic dances. I have heard a few adjudicators criticise some themes for being "too old" for the younger sections, and I tend to agree. I have seen some fabulous dramatic portrayal of greek myths in the older sections, but my own preference is for gentler themes. Particularly as this is your DD's first greek, I would think she will have enough to concentrate on with the new technique so I would lean towards a simple depiction of fairy or spirit of some kind and a lovely pretty costume to go with it.

Hope some of that gives you a bit of inspiration.Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

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Hi Pups_mum

thank you so much for the above. It is so kind of you to share you thoughts and knowledge, i am really grateful for the advice. You are quite right DD is very floaty and delicate in looks and personality so portraying a fairy sounds perfect

thanks again x

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Unfortunately DD not studying RAD. I appreciate everyone's patience, there should be a sub forum "dance for dummies" when dance teacher first suggested a Greek, i envisaged some sort of national dance (possibly some plate smashing ) i much prefer a pretty fairy dance xx

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Pups_mum thank you so much for these recommendations.  I have just spent the last hour or so relaxing and listening to the loveliest music, I am the first to admit that I know nothing about classical music but I have just downloaded Catrin Finch and Angele Dubeau and they are both gorgeous  :)

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