My non-textual project is on Zeibekiko, also named the “dance of the soul.” Zeibekiko is a war dance originating from the Zeibedes, a population inhabiting western Thrace, and it is very closely related to the Greek culture and tradition. Unlike other dances, Zeibekiko is not a performance; it is the emotion of the dancer that induces them to dance, not the wish to please their audience. He or she does not dance because they had planned to, or because they wish to be admired by the people watching them, but just because their heart leads them to do so. He or she would also be dancing if they were in a room by themselves, if they felt in this specific way.
Also, despite that it is executed very often in gatherings and celebrations, unlike many other dances, Zeibekiko is not a cheerful dance. It is in fact a dance expressing desperation. When someone truly feels the need to and chooses to dance, they feels like an eagle in the midst of its fly, but at the same time, they are more aware than ever of their mortality and all those burdens that prevent them from spreading their wings. They are actively balancing on a very thin line dividing feeling utterly hopeless and totally invulnerable. It would be a mistake to think that Zeibekiko is impressive or flamboyant. It is nothing more than the dancer’s effort to express all these deep questions and realizations about the nature of life and to relieve themselves from the pain they cause.
I wanted to share this unique element of Greek tradition, because it is a dance that explores the essence of humanity, a revolution against the tragic nature of human experience.
I would like to thank Christos Vakirtzis and Giorgos Fotopoulos for letting me upload these videos of them dancing Zeibekiko in front of the Prthenon temple.