Syrtós Kítrinou

[Full notes] [Summary notes] [Other dances & the source code]

Alternative Names 'Syrtós Kítrinou' is the Latin alphabet transcription of the name from Dick.
'Syrtós Kitrínou' is the Latin alphabet transcription of the name from the van Geels.
'Syrtos Kitrinou' is it reduced to ASCII by missing off the accents.
Ethnicity Greek Gypsy/Roma.
Formation Open circle lead by a leader on the right hand end. W-hold.
Dance Structure One part with variations when indicated by the leader.
Music Structure 4 counts/bar, 4 bar phrases. (But it sounds more complicated.)
Music Speed 87 counts/min.
Music 'O Bálamos', also known as 'Nais Balamo' or 'To tragoudi ton gifton' (which translates as 'The song of the Gypsies'). Eleni Vitali's arrangement version thereof (performed by Trediki when I learnt the dance).
Choreographers Maurits & Tineke van Geel.
Translation 'Kitrinou' is Greek for Dutch 'Geel' (English 'Yellow').
Source Learnt from Dick van de Zwan at the 2008 Balkan Festival in Zetten in The Netherlands. Timing notation correction & additional information from Jutta Malzbender & from Roberto Bagnoli's Stockton Folk Camp 2011 notes. Learnt from Maurits & Tineke van Geel at the London 2014 event.

Disclaimer: Mistakes are quite likely in the notes and no guarantees are made as to accuracy. There may be other versions of the same dance or other dances with the same name. Music may differ, particularly in speed, introduction and duration, between performers. The division into parts, bars & counts might not be standard. These notes of the dance are freely distributable (under GPL or CC-by-sa) in so much as the note's author's contribution but the choreography and/or collection were by other people and so their copyright might apply to the dance itself. Better than using notes, go to a dance class where it is taught by Dick van de Zwan or Maurits & Tineke van Geel.

A calm Greek dance to beautiful music. It does not have many steps but the timing relative to the highly syncopated music can be tricky.

Complications in the music include syncopation (to the extent that it does not sound to me at all like the underlying 4/4 it is), the phrasing of the sung (but not instrumental) verses crossing the dance structure and the verses often starting on the second beat, not first, of the bar.

It came into being when the van Geels & Dick heard the music in Greece and loved it so much that they wanted some dance to it and for that dance to be sufficient quality to do justice to the music. The van Geels choreographed it ('Kítrinou' in Greek means yellow as does 'Geel' in Dutch).

The form of the dance was a basic version with variations (giving 4 versions in total as the 2 variations could be done together). Typically in Zetten, it started with the Basic Version for about a third of the music then mixed in Variation 1 about equally in number with the Basic Version. Variation 2, whether combined with Variation 1 or not, was done much more rarely, typically only in the last third of the music and sometimes the dance went through completely without Dick using Variation 2. I've subsequently come across it with the variations done differently (although still based on a L leg sweep &/or a turn) so those might have subsequently evolved over time or might be basically ad lib. The basic version has remained stable. The styling has varied, which is possibly due to the three definitive sources, Tineke, Mauritz & Dick, each putting their own styling on it. These notes are for Dick's styling but I have put descriptions of the other stylings, where they differ, at the end.

As the choreographers, teachers, rearrangers & musicians are all from the Netherlands and Tineke van Geel is an authority in Armenian dance & culture, this could be said to be Greek/Gypsy/Dutch/Armenian fusion in origin!

I ought to explain why I have previously distributed these notes with the counts wrong. I find the rhythm okay to dance to (I learnt the dance visually) but my intuitive musical counting of the beats is non-standard. To me it is a complex irregular rhythm but it turns out to actually be just 4/4 with syncopation. I was first told of the 4/4 nature by Annie Toy, a friend who was much more musical than me, after the first time I lead the dance. Hence I corrected the musical counts in these notes to the conventional 4/4 but I did not manage to properly convert my personal counting scheme to 4/4 in bars 1-2. I was first told of that mistake (along with a direction typo) by Jutta, who had also learnt it from Dick at Zetten & found my notes on the WWW. Later I was told of the same counts mistake by dance teacher Brian Steere when I lead the dance on a Youlgrave holiday but fixing it remained on my to-do list until Dick himself contacted me in the run-up to the revival of the former Zetten festival at Zevenhuizen! Fortunately by that time someone better at music than me, the international dance teacher Roberto Bagnoli, had also put notes on the web. Hence I corrected my counts from his notes.

Roberto's notes also gave me the name of who arranged of the music: I knew of the original as the well-known folk tune 'O Bálamos' used for other dances and the beautiful arragement played live during Dick's teaching of this dance by the band Trediki (to much applause) but not the route from one to the other. I recommend you look up Roberto Bagnoli's notes on the web rather than just relying on these old notes of mine.

Six years after I learnt it from Dick, I went to a dance workshop by Tineke & Mauritz themselves where it was surprisingly taught (surprising as the workshop was advertised as being of dances from the Caucasus not from the Balkans). Their styling was a bit different from Dicks, and different from eachother's, so I added notes about those stylings too.

Style: Calm (even when doing the quick steps). Low flat footed steps with relaxed knees. Slight bounce by temporarily straightening the supporting knee when doing R lifts (& L lifts in Variation 1). Upright posture but relaxed.


Summary: 4 bars.

Use the first 4 bars (16 counts) of music as an introduction and start dancing on the first beat of bar 5. This is disconcertingly half a bar before the main melody starts but by starting there the steps will fit the melody when it does come in.

Basic Version

Summary: R lift (in last q of previous bar). R side, L across behind, R side, L forwards. R touch across in front, pause, side, across infront. R lift, back, L lift, back. R lift, (R side, L across infront) x 2 in ssqqq.

Start Facing the centre of the circle. Weight on R foot.
& Lift R foot. The foot goes up about 20 cm at the heel with the toes angled down, the bent knee slightly infront of the coronal plane of the body and the foot slightly behind that plane.
1 R step to the side.
2 L step across behind.
3 R step to the side, turning to face about 30 deg cw of the direction to the centre of the circle.
4 L step forwards with the foot pointing towards the centre of the circle.
1 R sweep to across infront without weight transfer, turning to face the centre of the circle. The sweep is done with the foot flat & almost skimming the floor.
2 Pause.
3 R sweep to the side, reverting to the position of the end of bar 1 (facing about 30 deg cw of the direction to the centre of the circle, R foot pointing in that direction, L foot pointing towards the centre of the circle) turning to face the centre of the circle.
4 Repeat count 1 (R across infront without weight).
1 Lift R foot. The foot goes up slightly in front to about 10 cm above the ground with the knee bent, the lower leg inclined back from the vertical and the foot remaining parallel to the floor.
2 R step backwards. The path it goes on curves a little out to the side (about 10 cm, concave on the L side).
3-4 Repeat counts 1-2 on the opposite feet (L lift, L step backwards).
1 Lift R foot. The foot goes up infront to about 20 cm above the ground with the lower leg remaining vertical and the foot remaining parallel to the floor.
2 R step to the side.
3 L step across infront.
& R step to the side.
4 L step across infront.
& (Treated as part of the bar 1 steps.)

To me it feels as if the natural place to count as beginning of this sequence of steps is the standing on the spot moving the R foot part (bar 2 above) so the sequence would be bars 2-3-4-1 above and end with the 2 travelling step bars. However Dick consistently started the dance as above half way through the travelling and that is where the phrases & verses of music broke.

Variation 1

Summary: Bar 3 counts 3-4: pause. Bar 4 counts 1-2: sweep L leg R & L.

Replace the L lift & step backwards with a pause and the subsequent R lift & R side with sweeping the L leg R & L infront. Details follow.

3-4 Pause with weight on the R foot and the L foot flat on the ground infront (& slightly to the side where it was left from the preceding R step backwards being done slightly to the side).
1 Sweep the L foot to across infront without weight transfer. The body does not turn. The foot keeps pointing towards the centre of the circle. The sweep is only just above the ground.
2 Reverse the motion of count 1 (sweep the L foot back to where it was, infront & to the side).

Variation 2

Summary: Turn 360 deg cw in bar 4.

Release hand hold, turn 360 deg cw whilst travelling around the circle (same distance as before & same foot sequence & timing) in bar 4 and regain hand hold.

Alternative styling (Tineke)

Summary: Lighter. R foot touch across pointed. Foot sweep in vertical plane arc & continue into R foot lift. Variation 2 pivots on L foot.

Her overall style was more light & smooth than Dick's. This was particularly noticeable in the bounces during the lifts being much more obvious features.

The R foot sweeps (bar 2 counts 3-4) were not flat close to the floor but in a pendulum-like arc in a vertical plane with the foot slightly pointed & the ends of the arc 15-20 cm above the floor. Similarly for the L foot in Variation 1. Instead of the R lift of bar 3 count 1 being separate, it was another pendulum-like repeating bar 2 count 3.

In Variation 2, the 4 steps of the 360 deg turn were done on the spot (rather than travelling) and as a pivot with the L foot remaining in place.

Alternative styling (Mauritz)

Summary: Quick-footed. Bar 1 L across behind had syncopated slight delay followed by R side being a leap. Foot sweep between Dick & Tineke styles. Variation 2 on the spot.

His overall style was nimble-footed & in some places slightly crouched. He emphasised that the dance was in Roma styling.

The foot sweeps were raised unlike Dick's but not as much as Tineke's.

The biggest difference was a leap in bar 1. It felt like there was a syncopated delay in the L across behind step (from count 2 to something like count 2&). The subsequent L across behind was quick little leap (the subsequent R step to the side starting before the L was back on the ground) which caught up the timing. (To me, this seemed odd in an otherwise gentle atmosphere dance.)

In Variation 2, the 4 steps of the 360 deg turn were done on the spot (but as a walk not as a pivot).