Hellenic Dance: Greek Orthodox Movement
This weekend, I got the opportunity to attend the Indianapolis Greek Festival, hosted by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. This allowed me to explore a type of dance that is practiced by the Greek Orthodox tradition. Through viewing a live performance of this type of dance, I was able to see firsthand the Greek folk dance that is incorporated into the Greek Orthodox Church life.
The type of dance practiced by the Greek Orthodox Church is called Hellenic dance, which refers to the practices of Greek culture (Hellenic culture). This type of dance is characterized by enthusiastic folk dance movement from Greece, Asia Minor, and the Greek Islands. These forms of movement, and the modern offshoots of them, are still popular parts of worship for many Greek Orthodox churches. This type of dance is an activity that many Greek Orthodox people participate in as a form of community involvement and worship.
The Indianapolis Greek Festival is held at a Greek Orthodox Church, and includes many cultural experiences. One of these experiences was live Hellenic dancing, performed by their several dance troupes. My original plan was to see all of the troupes (organized by age) perform, but unfortunately the festival got rained out after the first group. However, I was lucky enough to experience the middle school age group perform, and it definitely gave me an idea of what Hellenic dance looks like.
The troupe, composed of perhaps fifteen teenagers, was dressed in traditional Greek costumes: black pants or skirts with white blouses and red scarves. They performed a lively folk dance that consisted of rhythmic jumping and stomping. They also utilized several movement patterns, such as circles and lines, and danced with linked hands. Overall, it was at times reminiscent of other folk dances I have seen. What stood out the most to me, however, was the zest and enthusiasm with which they danced. Even when the music stopped playing due to the rain, they kept going and kept time by stomping their feet and clapping.
Overall, it was a very interesting experience, and my first foray into exploring how movement fits into religious tradition and practice. I was struck by both the similarities to other forms of folk dance, as well as the unique movement and costumes they presented. Ultimately, I saw that Hellenic dancing is a way to bring the Greek Orthodox Church community together, and that is a beautiful concept that I am beginning to see is present in many different faith traditions.
Below, I have included the link to the Indianapolis Greek Festival, which is a great way to experience a different culture and a different faith. Although it is over for this year, I highly recommend going next time around! Also, I have included photographs I took of the Hellenic dancers at this year’s festival.