Sunday 25th March was Greek Independence Day and as usual I joined the Koroni Community Dance Group, who I attend classes with, in local costume for the occasion… These particular costumes, which are typical of the region of Kalamata, are owned by the dance group. Based on traditional costumes but cleverly made with modern easy-care fabrics, there are yards of material in the ankle-length dresses. Whilst the original blouses were hand embroidered thick cotton garments, these reproductions are made of quick-drying poly-cotton, trimmed with brocade. The waist is wrapped around several times with a long scarf – organza in our case – tied in a half-bow.
This year our headgear comprised a white scarf, tied tightly around the head, with every scrap of hair scraped up, away from the face. This was topped with a second scarf – the more usual yellow-patterned one we normally wear on its own. Scarf tying is an art and it can take quite a while to get it just right! Because this particular arrangement was more complex than usual, a particularly early start was needed to ensure all the women were properly attired. Unfortunately 25th March this year coincided with the springing forward of the clocks, so we arrived in Koroni, not quite bushy tailed, at 8.30am, which of course was really only 7.30am! I believe we started marching after the church service, speeches, music and singing…around 11.15am!
Although the women’s costumes are owned by the dance group, the men’s elaborate fustanella costumes are hired in for the occasion. This Koroni group (there are actually two different dance groups in Koroni), like other local dance groups, use their own costumes for annual occasions such as Independence Day and Ochi Day and when performing ‘at home’. They are also sometimes used in church events such as icon processions. In the summer months, when there are many more dance performances and events all over the area, the costumes are hired in from professional costumiers. Each season, we learn a new set of dances from different parts of Greece and the islands, so the costumes worn for those summer performances correspond with the area the dances are from. It’s very exciting, after weeks of practicing to finally receive the costumes and see what we will be wearing on the night! (Many thanks to Community Koroni for the dancing photo above.)