Cretan dances and songs

  There are many dances, with even more variations, although some are only danced in a certain  region or village. The main categories are :

Kastrinos (or maleviziotis)

 A  dance  from the  Heraklion  region, characterized by its fast rhythm and small steps.


This  dance  is   performed  all  over Crete. As its name implies, there are five steps. It is a quick and  energetic dance  and  everyone,  dancers  and onlookers alike , joins in the impetuous force of the dance. 


Although this, too, is  danced all over Crete, it  is  basically a  dance  from Rethymnon. One school of thought is that  it  is  derived  from  the  martial Phyrric dance of  the  ancient Greeks. It is danced  by men  and  women  in couples and demands suppleness and grace, skill and imagination. 

Syrtos or Chaniotikos

This is a dance with small, regular,rhythmical steps and the leading dancer has an opportunity to carry out spectacular steps.

Cretan Dancers

   Cretan music has a character of its own and its roots are lost in the long history of the island. The  tonic  range  is  limited  but   the  richness  of  the songs reflects the depths of the Cretan spirit, full of energy, tenderness, love and humor.            

   Cretan songs may be divided into a) Mantinades, b) Rizitica and c) Satirical, historical-narrative, and love songs.


These have always been the most popular Cretan songs. They consist of simple but comprehensive couplets, with few words and epigrammatic expression of feeligns, accurate and pointed when in satirical mood, philosophical and deep at other times.They deal with all subjects: the love of life,the pain of death,gallantry, love,etc and they form a completely genuiene folk creation.


These are songs from the region of the White Mountains (their name comes from the word < rizes >= the roots. Nobody knows when or how they took their present form which is an excellent example of Cretan folk poetry.They are usually 15 syllabled and do not rhyme and have many themes:heroic,romantic,historic,etc. They divided into Tavla songs sung at the table,during a meal, and Strata songs sung while travelling, on the march. The songs of the Tavla are long, with many stanzas and today they are rarely sung  in their entirety. The songs of Strata are no longer sung and are being forgotten and lost as time passes.

Cretans in traditional uniforms