...for the love of dancing!
Zeibekiko  Toronto  Greek  Dancing 
Zeibekiko Barrie Greek Dancing

Text or leave a message @ (1) 647 998 4732


Professional Ballet Company Performance, the Hasapiko, Zorba Ballet 

For the Love and Freedom of Dancing


    Ekaterini Derziotis
Dance Education Certificate, York University, Toronto
Teacher Training, GSDTA, California
Judge's Training, NDDCB, California
Director - Swing Dance Championships
Toronto Greek Community School Dance
 20+ Years Experience in Various Dance Form

Zeibekiko, Hasapiko, Zorba, Kalamatiano, Leventikos, 
Hasaposerviko, Tsamikos, Ballos

West Coast Swing (to Greek Music as well for all dances)
 Tango Argentine and Vals 
Cross-Step Waltz to Greek Music
Latin/Ballroom Social Dancing to Greek Music

Private Lessons, Small Group Private Lessons
Wedding Choreography

Tango, Vals, West Coast Swing Lessons & Workshops


Zeibekiko Toronto Dance Studio's Mission Statement

  • To inspire the soul to dance
  • To develop and celebrate Zeibekiko and Hasapiko 
    as creative and evolving Greek urban dance forms 
  • To develop an individual's style, technique, and confidence
     to reach her/his
  • To foster a healthy, social, joyous lifelong artistic
    form of self-expression through various social dance 
  • To foster experiences for the energy, beauty, and 
    magic of music and 

          Zeibekiko Syllabus includes...

  • Walking Technique
  • Basic Rhythms & Common Variations Examples
  • Syncopated Dance Rhythms
  • Basic Shapes Variations
  • Basic, Int, and Adv. Variations
  • Kicks and Jumps
  • Turns and Spins
  • Foot Embellishments
  • Arm Styling
  • Tricks
  • Starts and Exits
  • Musical Interpretations
  • Zeibekiko A-Z Patterns and Movements

       Zeibekiko Workshops for Larger Groups

  • Zeibekiko  1: Basic Rhythms, The Walks, Basic  Patterns
  •  Zeibekiko  2: Intermediate/Advanced Patterns
  •  Zeibekiko  3: Playing with Shapes and Timing
  •  Zeibekiko  4: Adornments and Styling
  • Zeibekiko   5: Turns and Spins  Activate Your Turn-Ability-Workshops I
  • Zeibekiko   6: Turns and Spins  Activate Your Turn-Ability-Workshops II
  •  Zeibekiko  7: Musicology for Dancers - Music Has Structure
  •  Zeibekiko  8: Strategies for Teaching Children to Dance Zeibekiko and Other Greek Dances
  • Zeibekiko   9: Creating Zeibekiko: Developing the Skill of Analysis To Learn and To Create Using All Dance Forms
  • Zeibekiko 10: Develop Your Skills in Judging Zeibekiko


Wikipedia: Zeibekiko (GreekΖεϊμπέκικο) is a Greek folk dance with a rhythmic pattern of 9/4[1] or else 9/8 (broken down as 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/16 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/16 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8).

The name is derived from Zeibek warriors of Anatolia,[2] but old folklore said that the name of the dance comes from the words Zei, as a derivative of Greek God Zeus, and the phrygian word bekos, which means bread according to Herodotus.[3] According to this folk etymology, it symbolizes the union of the spirit with the body and it is believed that it was danced in honor of Greek gods.[4]

The dance is of free choreographic structure. Although in older times the dance was danced by a pair of either the same or opposite sex, some consider it a solo dance and find it offensive to be interrupted by another dancer. Occasionally dancers perform feats such as standing on a glass of wine or a chair or fireplace, or picking up a table, adding a sense of a little braggadocio and humor.[5]

  • Hasapiko Level  1: The Basics
  • Hasapiko Level  2: Intermediate Patterns
  • Hasapiko Level  3: Advanced Patterns


Wikipedia:  The hasapiko (Greekχασάπικοpronounced [xaˈsapiko]), is a Greek folk dance from Constantinople. The dance originated in the Middle Ages as a battle mime with swords performed by the Greek butchers guild, which adopted it from the military of Byzantine era.[1] InConstantinople during the Byzantine times, it was called in Greek μακελλάρικος χορός (makellarikos horos). Some Greeks, however, reserve the latter term only for the fast version of the dance.

The slow version of the dance is called χασάπικο βαρύ (hasapiko vary) or χασάπικος βαρύς (hasapikos varys) (βαρύς meaning "heavy") and generally employs a 4/4 meter. The fast version of the dance uses a 2/4 meter. It is variously called γρήγορο χασάπικο, μακελλάριος χορός; χασαποσέρβικο (grigoro hasapikomakellarios horoshasaposerviko — the latter a reference to Serbian and other Balkan influences on this version of the dance).

Hasapiko served as one of the bases for the Sirtaki.


  • Zorba Syrtaki/Hasaposerviko  Level  1: The Basics
  • Zorba Syrtaki/Hasaposerviko  Level  2:  Intermediate Patterns
  • Zorba Syrtaki/Hasaposerviko  Level  3:  Advanced Patterns

Wikipedia:  The hasapiko (Greekχασάπικοpronounced [xaˈsapiko]), is a Greek folk dance from Constantinople. The dance originated in the Middle Ages as a battle mime with swords performed by the Greek butchers guild, which adopted it from the military of Byzantine era.[1] InConstantinople during the Byzantine times, it was called in Greek μακελλάρικος χορός (makellarikos horos). Some Greeks, however, reserve the latter term only for the fast version of the dance.

The slow version of the dance is called χασάπικο βαρύ (hasapiko vary) or χασάπικος βαρύς (hasapikos varys) (βαρύς meaning "heavy") and generally employs a 4/4 meter. The fast version of the dance uses a 2/4 meter. It is variously called γρήγορο χασάπικο, μακελλάριος χορός; χασαποσέρβικο (grigoro hasapikomakellarios horoshasaposerviko — the latter a reference to Serbian and other Balkan influences on this version of the dance).

Hasapiko served as one of the bases for the Sirtaki.


  • Kalamatiano Level  1:  The Basics
  • Kalamatiano Level  2:  Intermediate Patterns
  • Kalamatiano Level  3:  Couples' Patterns for Leads and Follows


Wikipedia:  The Kalamatianós (GreekΚαλαματιανός) is one of the best known dances of Greece. It is popular Greek folkdance throughout Greece,Cyprus and internationally and is often performed at many social gatherings worldwide. As is the case with most Greek folk dances, it is danced in circle with a counterclockwise rotation, the dancers holding hands. It is a joyous and festive dance; its musical beat is 7/8, subdivided into two sets of 3 and 4 beats. The steps are 12: 10 steps counterclockwise ("forward") followed by 2 steps clockwise ("backwards"). Depending on the occasion and the dancers' proficiency, certain steps may be taken as jumps or squats. The lead dancer usually holds the second dancer by a handkerchief, this allowing him or her to perform more elaborate steps and acrobatics. The steps of the Kalamatianós are the same as those of the Syrtos, but the latter is slower and more stately, its beat being an even 4/4.

  • Ballos: Level  1: The Basics


Wikipedia:  The Ballos Sirtos (GreekΜπάλος) (from the Italian ballo[1] via Latin "ballo"[2][3] which derives from the Greek verb "βαλλίζω" ballizo, "to dance, to jump"),[4][5][6] is one of the best known Greek folk island dances in Greece. There are also different versions in other Balkan countries. The Ballos is of Greek origin, with ancient Greek elements.[7]

The melody of a ballos is generally joyous and lyrical which is typical of the music of the Aegean Islands. This couples' dance incorporates all the elements of courtship: attraction, flirtation, display of masculine prowess and feminine virtue, pursuit,and rejection followed by eventual capture and surrender.

Its origin is in the island culture of Greece. Men could not approach women easily, so they created this dance in order to "flirt" with them. There are various forms of the ballos around the islands. The simplest is one in which a single couple goes through a series of spontaneous figures. In another version many couples dance simultaneously as if alone on the dance floor. Yet another version is introduced by a Sirtos. And finally, in the most complicated form, a number of couples go through various figures, somewhat reminiscent of the European minuet. Ballos songs are popular and there are many of them. One of the most popular Ballos Asia minor song is: Τι σε μέλλει εσένανε; Ti se mellei esenane ("What do you mind?") etc.


Resources and Articles 


Zeibeks or sometimes Zeybeks were irregular militia and guerilla fighters living in the Aegean Region of the Ottoman Empire from late 17th to early 20th centuries, generally of Turkmen and Yörük origins.

Before the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, large concentrations of Zeibeks could be found in western Anatolia, particularly in IspartaBurdur,AfyonKütahyaUşakDenizliAydınİzmirManisaMuğlaAntalya, and the Balıkesir area.

They acted as protectors of village people against landlords, bandits and tax collectors. A leader of a Zeibek gang was called Efe and his soldiers were known as either Zeibeks or Kızan. Kızan was generally used for newly recruited or inexperienced Zeibeks. There was generally a tribe democracy in group. Decisions was taken in a democratic way, after the decision was taken Efe has an uncontroversial authority. They followed definite rituals for all actions; for example, the promotion of a kızan to zeybek was very similar to Ahi rituals.

Zeybeks had a special dance in which performers simulated hawks. Romantic songs about their bravery are still popular in Turkish folk music. Theyatagan sword was their primary weapon, but most of them carried firearms as well.

The Zeibeks fought against the Greek invasion of Western Anatolia during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. Their guerrilla warfare gave time for Turkish resistance to form a defense. After the formation of a Turkish national army, most of them joined and continued their resistance.

Zeybek Dance

The zeybek is a form of folk dance peculiar to Western Anatolia in Turkey. It is named after the Zeybeks. The Greek popular dance of a similar name (Zeibekiko) has different roots from the Turkish zeybek dance.

All zeybek dances have a common characteristic form, but the positioning of the arms and body differ according to the different regions. The rhythm is also very characteristic, a pattern of nine slow beats: 9/4 = 2+2+2+3 beats or 3+2+2+2 with occasional variations.

Zeybek melodies can be divided according to their tempo: ağır (slow) and kıvrak (fast). The ağır zeybek have rhythmic patterns of 9/2 or 9/4, which begin with an introduction called gezinleme in free style where the dancers wander freely before starting to dance in time with the rhythm. There is, however, nogezinleme introduction in female zeybek dances. Kıvrak zeybek have rhythmic patterns of 9/8 or 9/16.

From www.keeptalkinggreece.com

Zeibekiko is the ultimate expression of the Greek soul. A dance. Full of passion and sorrow, full of sigh and heartbreak, full of fears and pain, full of despair and unfulfilled love. The grieve of  a tortured soul in a 9/4 dancing rhythm. 

How do you dance Zeibekiko?

Zeibekiko is performed by a single dancer.  There is a dancing pattern scheme but mostly the dancer is allowed to improvise as the zeibekiko culturegives him the freedom to express his individual  and most genuine feelings. Normally the dancer is surrounding by one or more of his friends who symbolically won’t him him alone with his pain (thrilling right?). Friends applause to the rhythm. Often the dancer performs feats like dancing around a glass of wine (not the Roderer ones, please), or a chair, he may even go so far and pick up a table with his teeth (watch the video at 2:11!).

In the article  The Ultimate Greek Dance  will will find more information about the dancing pattern of Zeibekiko but also and the most simple teaching advice: “pretend you lost your “contact lens” and you search for them on the dancing floor.

Originally the Zeibekiko was integral part of the Greek urban subculture. It was the expression of  mostly impoverished people living on the fringes of the society, often having troubles with the police and drugs. Through a zebeikiko simulating the movements of a hawk, the outlaw’s soul would be released.  At the beginnings (1920′s) only men would dance Zeibekiko.With the years Zeibekiko entered the mainstream urban culture becoming the most popular urban Greek dance. Since a couple of decades women got the privilege to dance Zeibekiko as well.

The dance has been introduced to Greece by immigrants coming from Asia Minor (Turkey) after the 1922 war. Most music researchers agree that  zeibekiko dance is a form of folk music and dance peculiar to Western Anatolia in Turkey. It is named after the Zeybeks, local warriors. It is believed that this dance was created by the zeybek warriors who try to simulate movements of a hawk…

Turkish Zeybek or Greek Zeibekikos?

In Turkey there is a group of dances named “Zeybek dances”.  War dances, without ambiguity, spectacular both as dances and for the unusual dressing of the dancers.  Initially, those dances were performed by the men of the Zeybek tribes, in a district around Aydin, West Turkey, by a sole dancer or by a couple of two dancers facing each other, on a thought circle. In the Attaturk era though, for reasons relating to the efforts of every newly created nation to carve a national identity, there has been in Turkey a tendency to raise “Turkish Zeybek dances”, now choreographed and developed as group dances and practiced from Cesme to Diyar Bakir, as a national dance, equivalent to our tsamikos or kalamatianos.

There is also a dance, very well known in Greece of the 20th century, the Zeibekikos, in close relationship to what some call “rebetiko songs”.  Of course I refer to the form of the dance as developed in early 20th century  and popularised some decades before.  A male dance, of imposing rhythm and expression, something not found in today's dance clubs, where boys and girls (or gentlemen of some age) circle around themselves and position their body and feet wherever suitable, their hands not seeking to make heaven and earth meet or just help control the swinging body, but simply being of no practical use.

Of course, the two approaches of the same dance given, the issue could not escape from entering into the endless debate between Bad Turks and Good Greeks (from our side) or vice versa (from the others).  Even Zeus was brought down to help, or Dionysus or who or whatever else some thought would be suitable as evidence for the ancient Greek derivation of the dance, since Zeus and Bacchus pronounced together etymologize the name of the dance, as some think.

In this article, I will not search about the origin or the religion of the ones who first danced zeibekiko and whether they originated from ancient Thrace, Frygia or Greece, neither will I look into the etymology (or para- etymology) of the word Zeybek or Zeibekikos.  What really counts to me is that the Zeybek dance, as practiced on the mountains of the Aydin aerea in the form of a ritual activity related to war, developed to create the urban dance accompanying rebetiko songs, as we have seen it happen in Greece of the early and middle 20th century.  The easy answer is “it has been brought over by the refugees”.  But let us look at it a little closer.

Searching in the written sources we will indeed see that, in the whole region of Ionia, the western Turkish coast, zeybek dance was popular both with the Turks and the Greeks.  Especially in Ismir / Smyrna, a city of importance for the development of what we call rebetiko today, the dance appears to be very popular with very many written descriptions.  But except for Ionia, we note that Zeibekikos was practiced also in a wide spread district like almost all Eastern Aegean islands (Lesbos, Limnos, Samothraki, Imvros, Chios, Samos, Ikaria, Symi, Rhodes and probably elsewhere) but also furhter western:  Sporade islands, Pelion mountain, Syros island, …  And in Cyprus as well. 

In most of the written evidence there is no mention of when this dance was first noted in the specific area.  But let us examine the Syros example:  In Markos Vamvakaris' autobiography we find an extended description of a carneval event, during which dances were organized by “the zeibekia” on the island. Young men would organize into groups, by districts, to go out to the streets for own fun.  They would dress to remind  Zeybek people, at least as they, themselves thought Zeybeks should look like, and would dance “the Asia Minor dances, chassapiko, zeibekiko, chassaposerviko, serviko”. 

So, how come that Syrian residents dance zeibekiko in the streets? It should be noted that the dance was organized and practiced only on Carneval occasion, not during the other festivities of the year or the life cycle (religious festivities, marriages etc.).  This means that they thought of these dances as being “exotic”, not belonging to the “approved” dances of the community and thus suitable for carneval festivities.  Markos himself was a young child when he participated to the “zeibekia” festivities, as “the kapetanopoulo”, the Captain's son. Since he was born in 1905, it should be around 1911 – 1915, before the arrival of the Asia Minor refugees. 

Shortly after this period, Markos immigrates to Piraeus, as a youngster.  It is the time when thousands of poor young men and women arrive to Athens and Piraeus from all over Greece, searching for a better life.  After 1922, the big wave of refugees also arrives from Asia Minor, following the defeat of the Greeks in the war.  The refugees of Piraeus settle down in Drapetsona, only few steps away from Markos' yard.  So he gets to know and love them, together with their songs and dances.  He sees them dance chassapiko and zeibekiko, “his” dances and starts creating songs of this style.  Others follow and this marks the Genesis of the “Peiraiotiko rebetiko” with its associated dances.  It becomes very popular through the discography and those dances spread all over the country. 

Well, a “Turkish” or a “Peiraiotikos” zeibekiko?  I think the answer is one and very definite:  Both Turkish and Peiraiotikos.  If we leave national pride aside (-it whas myself who first discovered it, - no, it was myself) we see very clearly yet another example that, who is in the seek of evidence for his cultural heritage should always look at what happens around the aerea, not only in his own yard.  Exchange and further development of cultural elements between neighboring people or groups  is existing and very strong since ancient times, and this is the beauty of it.  In this way all people of the neighborhood, Turks, Greeks, Balkanians, Arabs could all benefit from the creative exchange and improve our cultural treasure, not caring about ethnical differences.  Let us keep our share of ethnic pride, without neglecting the other one's part.

So you think it's only a man's dance? It was, but evolution has played its part a few decades ago; zeibekiko is now a dance of enjoyment and expression for everyone!

On the topic regarding exclusivity, on a Youtube comment, Corrina states...

"Sentimental and uninformed comment.. You are confusing historical origins with current reality. Women dance the Zeibekiko in Greece. Dances evolve…if they did not the Paso Doble would be confined to the bullrings, the Tango would be danced by slaves and the Hasapiko only danced by butchers…The zeibekiko is no longer danced by Turkish warriors. it has evolved into a dance of catharsis that expresses the inner soul… All women have souls… And many of us are warriors ..."

From... Onthisisland.com, Peter writes...

Zeibekiko is THE Ultimate Greek dance. Out of the 50+ various styles of Greek Dances (Rebetiko, Tsifteteli, Sirtaki, Kalamatiano, etc) the Zeibekiko intrigues me the most. But what is it about this legendary dance that mesmerizes both the onlookers and the dancer? 

(Ekaterini's Note: It is estimated there are more than 4,000 Greek dances.)

Lead Guitarist = Zeibekiko?!

I like to look at it from lead guitarist’s point of view! When a guitarist steps up on stage and lets rip a killer solo it’s just him vs the onlookers. It is up to the guitarist to entertain the crowd with an improvised sweet piece of music that really comes from his soul, just like the Zeibekiko.

What is a Zeibekiko

For those who don’t know, the Zeibekiko consists of a single dancer where he or she will dance in an “arena” created by friends on their knees in a circle, clapping to the rhythm, while the performer literally tells a story with the moves he/she displays. That’s the beauty of the dance. Zeibekika songs are not (usually) corny pop songs released to cash in a few easy bucks, but rather stories of everyday emotions that human beings encounter. Joyful feelings about friendship and love interests, as well as heartbreaks and hardships are common themes explored in the lyrics of most of the songs and it is for these reasons that many people associate themselves with any Zeibikiko song at any given time. The emotional affiliations to the song are further enhanced by the level of immersion the dancer will show with his moves!

There is no correct way to dance a Zeibekiko just as long as you stay within the underlying general rhythm (9/4 or else 9/8 ,broken down as 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/16 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/16 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8)! That’s a lot easier to understand when you actually hear a Zeibekiko song. As I have mentioned earlier its all about improvisation, and if you have ever had the honour to have witnessed one such dance it is easy to mistake the performer as drunken punter in a club… Well that’s not far from the truth as many performers need a ‘little’ bit of drink to muster the courage to dance and be the center of attention from friends and other random club goers alike.

History of the dance

The dance itself originated from the Zeybek warriors in Anatolia and partially introduced in Greece in 1923 following the peace ‘Treaty of Lausanne’ which allowed the merging of the East Thracians and Anatolia populations. As a consequence the dance became naturalized in Greece and re-introduced in Turkey as a Greek Dance. Markos Vamvakaris (Rebetiko composer and singer) from the island of Syros, later played an integral part in the role of shaping and popularising this musical and dance genre.

‘To Zeibekiko Tis Evdokias’

The most popular Zeibekiko song is a masterpiece composed by Manos Loizou. It is an instrumental (non lyrical) piece of brilliance that promotes a plethora of unique self-induced emotions. ‘To Zeibekiko Tis Evdokias’ is interpreted differently amongst many people and holds a dear place in my heart. It was the highlight of both my sister’s and brother’s wedding, reminding me of the happiness and joy we all shared clapping as our loved ones took on the center stage and mesmerized us with the ‘story’ they all told on the dance floor.

The famous Greek Zeibekiko dance



Zeibekiko, or Zeimbekiko, is a Greek Dance, one of the most popular and beloved dances and rhythms in Greece. It is considered an urban improvisational dance, following a dancing pattern of 9/8.

Zeibekiko in Greek is written as zeimpekiko (ζεϊμπέκικο).

The οrigins of zeibekiko

Zeibekiko dance is considered a Greek dance, but its origins are found to a particular dance of warriors in Anatolia (today’s Turkey), called Zeybek.

This rhythmic dance was a little different, and less improvisational, as it was a typical tribal dance mostly in the villages of Aydin and Western Turkey.

It was a dance known only to the islanders in Greece, especially the ones living close to Asia Minor, due to the commercial exchanges and strong relationships that islanders kept with their families and friends from Asia Minor.

Zeibekiko was introduced in Greek mainland after the 1922 genocide in Asia Minor and the incoming refugees towards Greece.

The zeibekiko dance and rhythm, bearing something nostalgic, but yet brave and audacious became naturalized in Greece and became a typical and popular Greek dance. It was re-introduced to Turkey as a Greek Rhythm, as the original dance is considered more folkloric. Zeibekiko dance used to be a men’s dance, although last few decades women have also mastered the art of dancing it.

Zeibekiko Composers and Players

One of the most important Reberiko composers, Markos Vamvakaris from the island of Syros, was one of the pioneers in importing, shaping and naturalizing zeibekiko dance.

Some of the most known zeibekiko composers in Greece are Vassilis Tsitsanis, Apostolos Kaldaras, Stavros Xarhakos, Manos Loizos and many more.

In the featured here, you can see the infamous Zeibekiko of Evdokia, one of the most known Greek Songs, which is actually instrumental, because the sound and melody are so powerful that lyric writers refused to write lyrics on the melody, fearing that they will ruin it. It was composed by Manos Loizos.

Zeibekiko dance today

zeimpekikoZeibekiko is definitely one of the most beloved Greek dances, because it’s passionate and flamboyant. It is a personal dance, a way to express individuality, but also fears and desires, a way to unwind through music and dance. Usually only one person at a time may dance it and everyone else has to kneel down, forming a circle around the dancer, clapping following the rhythm and encouraging the dancer.

Zeibekiko dance does have some particular steps, but the most impressive dance is the one where the dancer shows his creativity, performing special feats, adding a little humor and personal touch to the occasion.

The real zeibekiko for Greeks, though, is heavy and impassionate, a spoony dance; an expression of sevdah danced by buster guys. An introverted dance that reflects the sorrow, anguish and pain of the dancer as well as his emotional distress and his losses.

Zeibekiko is the most commonly danced rhythms in feasts, and when Greeks go to taverns or night clubs with live music.

from everything2.com

Alex writes...

It's getting late--really late--at a tavern somewhere in the Greek summer. The wine is flowing as freely as the ouzo and what you thought of as an overabundance of appetizers turned out to be the main course of an endless meal. Some time after midnight, just past the crescendo of noise and activity, a man approaches the band, slips the bandleader--often the man with the bouzouki--a banknote and whispers something. The musician nods and the man steps away.

A few minutes later there is a noticeable quietening of the crowd as the familiar notes of a song demand your attention. You recognise the song as the cue for a spectacle not seen far outside the Eastern Mediterranean. The man with the money is going to dance. And he is going to dance for himself.

The zeibekiko is a Greek dance originating on the east coast of the Aegean. Many Greek dances include a designation of origin in their name. This one's suggests that it originated among the Zeybeks, a tribe of Asia Minor that was known for its services as mercenaries. It was probably equally common among the Greek population of Asia Minor, particularly the area around Smyrna, which is near Zeybek territory. The dance was introduced to Greece proper by refugees from that area in the 1920s. Before its adoption by the Greeks, it was the Zeybeks' war dance so its ultimate origin is likely to be the steppes of central Asia. In its war dance form, it was danced outdoors and the dancers simulated the flight of hawks. The contemporary zeibekiko is usually danced indoors.

The Greek zeibekiko is a highly expressive, emotional dance performed by a solo male dancer, less often by women. Should a woman dance it, she is expected to dance it like a man would. The dance is closely related to the Turkish Zeybeği, which is a formal and scripted group dance that resembles the Turkic original. A similar group dance exists in Cyprus, where it is also performed by women.

The zeibekiko as a solo dance is entirely free-form, spontaneous, and given to displays of skill as much as that is possible for a dance that tends to involve a fair amount of alcohol. It usually begins with slow, circular movements resembling the hawk figure of the ancestral dance. This motion may be interpolated between figures for the entire duration of the act. Depending on the dancer's ability, it evolves into more elaborate figures and sometimes even acrobatics that involve objects such as glasses and chairs. Steps may be improvised or borrowed from any number of other dances.

A man will generally not dance this until late into the party and just as he begins to come down from an alcohol induced high. Such is the state of mind that suits this dance. Seeing this dance before midnight is rare, before sunset unthinkable. This does not mean that you can't see guys with no sense of style try to dance it at a public gathering in mid-afternoon. The accompanying music is usually heavy with a slow tempo and typically uses a meter of 9/8. Sometimes a semi-circle of men and women will kneel around the dancer and clap their hands to the rhythm. The dancer's gaze is fixed on the floor and his expression is intense. What sets apart the Greek zeibekiko from its Cypriot and Turkish counterparts is not just its group versus solo aspect. Most of all it's an extreme Dionysian abandon that contrasts strongly with the regimented war dance. The Zeybeği is danced by all before the battle; the zeibekiko is the soldier's personal tale of pain and glory, of triumph or defeat.

A zeibekiko dancer does not dance to impress, nor to consciously make a point. He dances purely for himself, in the strange mixture of deep introspection and flamboyant display that people in the eastern Mediterranean are capable of. The same goes for the lyrics to the songs which are often rembetika with themes of displacementsolitudeor persecution. The music itself is remarkably compelling to dance to but only the best and bravest can actually pull it off, much like only certain individuals can take the lead in some ritual dances. Because it's not just about mood but also about timing, the context of the moment can differ from one song to the next. One dancer may be undergoing and expressing an ecstatic affirmation of life. Another may be asserting himself as a man to be reckoned with, in the skilled warrior aspect of the dance. Yet another may be communicating his passion, not necessarily directly to the object of his desire but more often in an abstract, shamanic sense. This does not mean the dance must be asexual--on the contrary, it can be as enticing as a peacock's tail. The zeibekiko is as free in its mode of expression as it is in its form.

There is a protocol to the zeibekiko. Adherence to it varies depending on the mood, as do the consequences for breaking it. While a brawl is a possibility, most sanctions involve Losing Face, which is generally a bad thing. The frowns from the audience should tip you off. Rule number one for a serious dance is that He Dances Alone. Taking the floor while another dancer is up is Very Bad Form. Close friends or the object of the dancer's affection may accompany him on a pass across the floor. Kids at jovial family gatherings are exempt. Rule number two is that you Do Not Interrupt. This is Rude. Rule three is that You Dance Once. If you didn't get it out of your system with the first song, you didn't do it right and you don't get a retry, at least not until you've waited your turn. Rule four is that the audience does not interact with the dancer except to clap the rhythm or offer a drink. The dancer may freely engage the spectators.

No applause is expected at the end and often it's not even appropriate. Sometimes, even in a crowd, it suffices that three or four people paid attention and shared the dancer's emotion.

The internationally best known zeibekiko is probably the instrumental known from the 1971 film Evdokia, known simply as "Evdokia's Zeibekiko" (To zeibekiko tis Evdokias), written by Manos Loizos. While, of course, staged for the film, the film itself is very naturalistic and the dance is only slightly stylised and presented in a tense, provocative setting to match the storyline. See it here. In another film (watch this in 240p) the dancer (an excellent dramatic actor) is mourning a close friend. 

Ekaterini's Note:  

Zeibekiko has developed a great deal more than these resources depict the dance, even though, in my personal view, it is still in its late infancy stage.

Zeibekiko Dance Lessons in Toronto and Barrie, Ontario

Group Lessons, Private Lessons, Wedding Choreography, Performances, Workshops

Please text Ekaterini (Katherine) or leave a message at (1) 647 998 4732