Thoughts on Green Mountain Ketri-Ketri and Nina's Dance
There are many circle dances to songs that express a wistful, peaceful but poignant reconcilliation to, or moving beyond, past or present suffering. To the dances listed above I could add Perpetual Motion and Heart like a fire and osou varoun to sidera in this category. But let's take one at a time ...
Green Mountain Ketri-Ketri
The dance (I haven't yet traced the choreographer) is to the song “De cara a la pared” sung by Lhasa de Sela on the 1997 album “La Llorona”. Of Mexican-American origin, she developed her singing in Greece and then Canada into a truly haunting sound. She died on January 3rd 2010. Here are the words:
Nina's DanceThe choreography is by Brenda Kelley and the song is “Os Argonautas” (the Argonauts) by the Brazillian composer and singer Caetano Veloso. (I don't know who the singer is on the version used for the dance.) It is built around the phrase “Navegar é preciso, viver não é preciso” — Navigating is necessary (or “precise”), living is not — a phrase with a long and winding history (see below).
This song is gentle, but with a more up-beat feel, the words at first evoking the journey of the Argonauts in greek mythology: a heroic band sailing through one peril after another in the boat “The Argo” in quest of a golden ram's fleece guarded by a dragon. But in the last verse the ship becomes a car and the imagery shifts to city life as in De cara a la pared. The ending is dark and tragic, but in the circle dance version the singer maintains the same tone of peaceful acceptance, of death as of life.
The phrase “Navegar é preciso, viver não é preciso” originates from the book Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans by Plutarch (ca. 46—120 CE). Writing in Greek, in the Life of Pompey he described how the Roman general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (a.k.a. Pompey, 106BCE—48BCE), when in charge of procuring food for the state, was about to set sail from Africa with a cargo of grain, when a storm blew up and the sailors were unwilling to set sail. Pompey, however, “led the way on board and ordered them to weight anchor, crying with a loud voice ‘To sail is necessary; to live is not’“ (Πλειν αναγκη, ζην ουκ αναγκη). Of course Pompey, if he had said this at all, would have said it in Latin. Plutarch's Lives were translated piecemeal into Latin from the late fourteenth century when this saying became “Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse” (‘navigare’ then having the sense of ‘sailing’).
Thereafter a variety of heroically minded people and organisations adopted it as their moto (e.g. Benito Mussolini in 1920). It found its way into Portugese through the writing of the poet Fernando Pessoa (1888—1935) as “Navegar é preciso, viver não é preciso”, where “navegar” now means “navigate” and “preciso” ambiguously means both “precise” and “necessary”.
 Plutarch's Lives (Loeb Classical Library), London: Heineman, 1917,