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by Archaeology Newsroom

Dance and Place: The Case of the Albanians in Greece

The broader region of Epirus, inside and beyond the present national boundaries, was a place of important historical events that led to the creation of special socio-economic conditions and, by extension, to the creation of cultural formations. The diverse political developments in Albania and Greece had a catalytic influence on the cultural physiognomy of the Greek-born population, settled in the southern areas of the neighboring land. The migratory stream that transformed Greece from a country of forwarding immigrants to a land of receiving them has played a major role in the creation of a new socio-economic reality for the frontier countries. However, the embodiment of the Greek-born immigrants from Albania in the “Mother Greece” environment proved to be a very difficult task: in their strive to become acceptable, they have tried to adjust themselves to the prevailing conceptions and myths concerning the members of the Greek minority of “Northern Epirus'” created by the Greeks. This peculiar effort of Hellenization presents very interesting cultural negotiations, since the local as well the migratory societies seem to draw out from oblivion “common traditions, customs and institutions” that have been forgotten. The dance of the metics, as an “overall social phenomenon”, is one of the basic elements for expressing cultural identity and at the same time one of its major structural elements. The dancing expression of the immigrants moves like a pendulum among the borders of Greek , “‘North Epirotan” and “communal” dance reper-toire. In the case of these people before their immigration, place and dance were composing a singular representation of their cultural physiognomy, in which both these elements had a perfect coherence. However their kinetic expression of dance and place interaction after their settlement in Greece seems to be shaped according to the geographical substance of immigration. Nevertheless, it allows in reality the detection of various re-constructions of the “place” of their society, since they are far away from their ancestral hearths, which can be achieved through the participation of their members in dance performances. Therefore, based on the influence that the new settlement has on the individual and collective level, we win locate and enhance the characteristic elements that compose the dance identity of the immigrants from Albany to Greece.