Tsamiko Dance

Tsamikos dance 

Tsamikos is a circular dance that is mainly danced by men and with few variations and more smooth steps is also danced by women.

It is danced in an open circle and belongs in the category of “dances of the first”, in which apart from the basic steps performed by all the dancers, the first dancer performs squats, turns, jumps, etc. depending on the mood of the moment and its potential, he can also make improvisations according to the lyrics and the melody of the song accompanying the music.

When it is danced as mixed circle dance, it is performed in “double banister” (men in the outer circle – women in the inner circle), or in a circle in which men follow women.


The dance during the Turkish occupation was danced by armatolous and kleftes (Greek warriors) and was accompanied by songs praising their achievements, therefore called Kleftikos.

Some argue that its name came from the region Tsamouria, located in Epirus, while others believe that it came from the word Tsamis, meaning "tall", and refers metaphorically to manliness stature that traditionally characterizes dancers.

Tsamikos dance is usually danced in the mountainous regions and symbolizes and expresses gallantry and bravery of the dancers.

It has two important features in its execution, the element of triumph expressed by the imposing and full of grandeur pace and the element of fight expressed by rhythmically uneven jump expressions, the blows, the waddles, the kneeling down to earth (mainly from the first dancer).

The grip of the hands is done by the palms with hands set in position W.

Music accompanying dance Tsamikos / Song (lyrics)

The rhythm is in 3/4  (in some regions  it is performed in more slow rhythm in 6/8 )

Some of the songs that accompany the dance are:

  • Birbilis
  • Protomagia
  • Ta magia
  • Enas leventis horeve
  • Na tan ta niata dyo fores
  • Stou papa Lambrou tin avli
  • Ti me koitas poy gerasa
  • Amarantos
  • Itia, Dailiana
  • Enas aitos kathotane
  • Katakaimeni arahova (of Daveli) 
  • Ilios
  • S’ aytes tis rahes tis psiles

Regional differences in dance Tsamikos

Tsamikos dance is danced in Peloponnese, Central Greece, Thessaly, Western Macedonia with small variations in the kinesiological structure (10, 12, 8, 16 steps) {we have presented the dance with 10 steps, which is the most common form}.

Tsamikos dance is danced in slow, medium and fast rhythmic education depending on the morphic type and other factors.

Tsamikos is widely considered as a panhellenic dance, however in reality it is not danced in many regions of Greece and especially in the insularity space.

Dance costumes

Tsamiko dance is usually accompanied by the costume of foustanella.

In the Peloponnese and generally in mainland Greece, as well as among the Sarakatsans, we find the foustanella, a kind of moultipleated white kilt. In Epirus this garment is also known under the name of toska.

It is made of many right-angled triangular pieces of cloth, sewn together, the straight part joined to the bias part, and then gathered at the waist. The foustanella is usually fashioned in two separate sections, and tied together on either side of the waist.

The fact that the older type of foustanella had a bodice was less pleated and came halfway down the length of the leg, suggests that the garment may have evolved from the shirt. The foustanella was worn mainly by the  armed fighters, the Armatoli and Klephts . In fact, it would seem that before it was established but the first king of Greece, Otto.

Foustenella (Greek traditional clothe)

After the liberation of Greece, in the first quarter of the 19th century, all male costumes in the Peloponnese took the form of foustanella. The white underpants or the boudouri, long knitted white tights, are fastened at the waist by the belt. The tights are stretched and secured by garters (gonatoures) tied below the knee.

The foustanella proper covered the thighs and was tightly girded at the waist by the sash over which was tied the silachi, a sort of leather belt-pouch. The most characteristic waistcoat was double-breasted and embroidered with the braid with pullets design.

On the head was worn a cotton kerchief, the barezi, or a fez and, from the end of the 19th century on, any kind of hat sent by relatives living abroad.

With the tights were worn the tsarouchia with the pompons, while the footwear accompanying the trikia was the hobnailed shoes (prokadoures).

This type of costume constituted the town costume for men, after the abolition of the anteri. It was initially worn by the guerilla chieftains and, in a way, constituted a sort of military dress. Distinctive features of the costume are the long fustanella and the silk tourban, which was often wound around the fez. Above the narrow red sash which girded the waist was worn the gold selachi, in which were tucked the guns but also various useful articles in its inner pockets. It was elaborately embroidered. There are three waistcoats: the ghileki, worn underneath the fermeli, with the sleeves worn normally and not thrown back, and the fermedoghedeko, that is the waist coat worn over the fermeli. It is gold-embroidered costume, such as was worn only after the Liberation. This particular costume belonged to an aide-de-camp of Capodostrias, the first governor of Greece.

 Ι. Papantoniou (1996), Greek Regional Costumes, Peloponnesian Folklor Foundation, Nafplion, p.14, 24, 27

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