THESSALIA

Thessalia is one of the central districts of mainland Greece, located south and southeast of Makedonia and Ipiros respectively, north of the region of Roumeli, and bordered on the east by the Aegean Sea. Back to Map It has very diverse terrain, from fertile plains to rising mountains in the western portion of the district. The region was acquired from the Ottoman Turks by the expanding Greek state in 1881, and since has been the “breadbasket” of the nation; the Karagounides of the western plains are renowned as wealthy farmers who supply much of the country’s wheat crop. In addition to Greek “locals”, communities of semi-nomadic Sarakatsan herders and Vlach shepherds have also contributed to the music and dance culture of the region.

Thessalia’s proximity to Roumeli and Ipiros is also reflected in the region’s style of music and dance. Much like the music of these regions clarinet is the predominant instrument of Thessalia, and is usually coupled with the violin, stringed lute, defi (tambourine-like frame drum), and toumbeleki (hourglass small drum). Musical styles in Thessalia tend also to be heavy and slow, with drawn out improvisations on the clarinet and violin. The pulsating rhythm commonly heard in the region is particularly pronounced in the slow, proud dances of the Karagounides of the western plains. In addition to instrumental accompaniment, dances in the region (particularly the western portion) are often accompanied only by a cappella singing.

Many dances of the region follow basic step patterns also found in syrtos/kalamatianos dances found throughout much of mainland Greece. Among the most famous dances of Thessalia are a family of dances variously known as “karagouna”, danced in the villages of the same name in western Thessalia. Contrary to popular belief, there is no one set step for “karagouna”- different villages may dance it as a 6 step “sta tria”, a 12 step “syrto”, or with any of a wide range of other step patterns. In addition to syrto-style dances, “tsamiko” (and tsamiko-like) dances are popular in Thessalia, although in the western portion of the district it is danced as a shorter 10-step dance as opposed to the 12 step version better known in southern Greece. Interestingly, women in this area dance “tsamiko” with more of a syrto-style patterning, although the dance figure remains within the basic measure of the 10 step men’s dance. Much like regions to the north, Thessalia is also known for slow, face-to-face couple’s dances such as Berati (and in some cases, Tasia). Women usually form their dance circles inside the men’s circle like their counterparts in neighboring Ipiros, or in the case of song-dances at the end of the dancing chain; as in Ipiros, singing accompaniment usually consists of men at the front of the line singing the verse first and the women repeating it thereafter.

Dances of Thessalia include::

Syrtos, Tsamikos, Berati, Tasia, Karagouna, Svarniara, Sta Tria, Zaharoula, Sta Dio, Kleistos, Thilikotos, Tai Tai, Saranda Kleftes Imasthan, Yiouryia, Rongatsarikos.



Volos, Thessaly