Kalamatianos: a famous Greek traditional dance


Do you like to dance? If yes, do you also know the Greek traditional dances?
A well-known traditional dance which you can see or dance at every happy occasion in Greece (such as weddings, christenings, celebrations, etc.) is the “Kalamatianos dance”. Also during the Omilo Greek courses
, we always organize some dancing lessons for the students and practice the kalamatianos. Here you will find an introduction about this dance, and we hope you will soon dance along with other Omilo students 😊

Greeks definitely love dancing. Greek dances are very important in Greek culture and there is a very big variety. The music, the pace, the steps can vary depending on the area in Greece. However, there are some dances that are danced all over Greece and that almost every Greek knows to dance since they usually also learn it during their gymnastic lesson in primary school! The Kalamatianos is one of them.

The origin

The Kalamatianos is a popular dance, often referred to as ”sirtos”. Its roots are lost back in antiquity: on ancient vases, we can see dancers dancing like in the Kalamatianos, and there are ancient inscriptions referring to the “sirtos” dances.

The name “Kalamatianos” indicates its modern origin from the Peloponnese (Kalamata: city in south Peloponnese). Thanks to the cheerful music and its pleasant rhythm, the dance was introduced throughout Greece with several variations.

The steps

This dance is danced by both men and women. The dancers dance in a circle. The first person in the row can improvise and make figures. He/She often holds a white scarf in his/her right hand.

The dance has 12 steps. Depending on the area there are small variations, e.g. the way you cross your legs. The steps may seem to be a lot, but the most important thing is to keep up with the rhythm of the music. Even if you do not know the steps, do not hesitate to enter the dance and follow the rhythm of the rest other dances. The goal is to have a good time, and the more you will dance it, the easier it will become 😊

The music

The music that accompanies the Kalamatianos is usually cheerful and the pace varies depending on the area. So sometimes the rhythm of the music is very fast and therefore the circle moves quickly, and in other areas, the music has a much slower pace, and you will have more time to adjust your steps and learn it more easily!

The most representative song is the ” Mantili Kalamatiano” (=scarf made in Kalamata), where the singer asks her beloved to bring her a silk scarf as a sign of his love on his way back from Kalamata (Kalamata was known for producing silk scarves of high quality).
Click here to listen to the song.

Another well-known song danced mainly in Macedonia and accompanied by brass wind instruments is “Milo mou kokkino” (=My Red Apple).  Although the singer talks about a love disappointment, the rhythm is especially happy, which is the particular characteristic of the Macedonian dances. Click here to listen to the song.

During the intensive Omilo Greek Language and Culture courses in Nafplion, Lefkada and Syros, we also introduce our students to Greek dancing. It is the perfect relaxation and gymnastics, after having 4 hours of Greek lessons, and it is FUN!
Click below to see some videos where we practice the Kalamatianos on the island of Syros. And for those feeling confident enough, students and teachers also dance during the tavern meals 😊



If you also like the Greek dances, let us know which dance you prefer, so we can add it to our list for the summer.

P.S. In the mood to dance even more?
Click here for one more example of a Cretan dance, which Omilo students have learned during their courses