ANTONIS MARTSAKIS - CRETAN MUSICAL DANCES
(2 CD'S WITH 24PAGES BOOKLET TRANSLATED IN ENGLISH)
Charchaliana 29th March 2019
I took my first steps in dancing in 1985, influenced by my grandfather, a reveller known by the name Martsovasilis, as people called him, and by my father George. There was no traditional festivity that we did not attend in Athens where we lived, and in Crete during our holidays. During those festivities I would always stay awake until the early hours, watching the dancers who stood out, and whose expressiveness while dancing impressed me. I started taking lessons for traditional Cretan dances at the age of six, initially at the Cretan Association in Piraeus called “OMONIA”. Then I continued at the Cretan Association in Drapetsona and Keratsini where Andreas Marianakis, a family friend, who came from a village near the village I come from, was my dance teacher. Then, from 1999 until 2005 I was a member of the dancing team of the folkloric Association called “KOURITES” .
As the years went by I learnt how to dance more and more dances but when attending traditional festivities in Kissamos I was able to understand that the music I could hear and the dance I watched there were different from what I had been taught in Athens. My experiences in the music of Crete made my desire to learn to play a musical instrument really great. In this way I would feel complete. So, I took up violin lessons, and the violin is the musical instrument that has been accompanying me for thirty years. In Athens, my first teacher was Kostas Pachakis, who came from Selino Province in Chania. In Crete, some great fiddlers like Michael Kounelis (who came from Polirinia village in Kissamos) and Kostas Papadakis (nicknamed “The Sailor”) were my teachers.
The first sounds of music were given to me by musicians from Chania and especially from Kissamos Province. Those were Nikolaos Charchalis, George Marianos and Stratis Galathianos. I was lucky to have met musicians from all over Crete like Nikolaos Saridakis (nicknamed “The Black”), George Katsourelis, George Tzimakis, Thanasis Skordalos, Kostas Mountakis, Kostas Mouzourakis, Leonidas Klados, Ioannis Skalidis, Ioannis Markogiannakis, George and Kostas Vasilakis, George Sfakianakis, George Lampokonstantakis, Michael Polychronakis and others. My contact with contemporary artists of Cretan music has played and continues to play an important role in my musical development. They are so remarkable and so many that unfortunately I cannot name all of those artists.
In 1993 I started playing in social gatherings in Athens and Kissamos as well. In those traditional festivities “The Syrtos”, “The Pentozalis” and “The Kalamatianos” were the dances that were mostly played and danced. As the years went by I learnt the melody that every single reveller liked to dance because I could remember what they usually wished and asked to dance. Since the early 90s some less known traditional dances of Crete which were described as “forgotten” dances began being popular again. I was very interested in learning them. Apart from “The Syrtos”, “The Maleviziotis”, “The Pentozalis”, “The Sousta” and “The Siganos” that were very popular in all festivities, “The Lazotis”, “The Trizalis’, “The Priniotis”, “The Roumathiani Sousta” etc. began to be played. They also began to be taught in dance schools and Cretan Associations. Within fifteen years we have a complete picture of the melodies and steps of the dances that revived. The festivities that I now participate in do not only take place in Kissamos but all over Crete. My love for dancing makes me take good notice of every good male and female dancer I see in every single village of Crete. It also makes me capture in my mind any special step of every area. Until today I have not stopped discovering all special musical characteristics in all villages, provinces and areas of Crete. Crete may be easy to travel but capturing its musical and dancing tradition is difficult. Recently, the less popular and known dances have earned a special place in all traditional festivities making the cultural identity of Crete even richer. The people of every single village show their own energy and identity through music and dance.
Practising this job, I always try to capture everything I see and hear, everything I have seen and heard in this beautiful place of ours, the island of Crete.