Lyra - Orpheus Newsletter       First Quarter 1998 
 
Greek Dance at Emerson Jr. High School 
 
Web Site Update
 
Personal Announcements
 
Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer
 
 

The Zournades Are Coming!
     Come join Orpheus for a weekend of folk music and dance at the Winter Greek  Festival here in Chicago on January 24-25, 1998.  Endorsed by the Folk Dance Council of Chicago, the Winter Greek Festival will take place at the University of Chicago's International House with an impressive schedule including dance workshops, culture sessions, a banquet and performance by the Orpheus Dance Troupe with live music from Greece and the U.S.!  
      This year's Festival events center around the music and culture of Flambouro, one of several villages in the Serres region of Eastern Macedonia, Greece.  For generations Flambouro had been inhabited entirely by sedentary gypsies.  More recently, other groups of people have settled there, as well, but the music of Flambouro transcends ethnic and political boundaries and appeals in a familiar way to people in adjacent regions and countries.  The Festival's dance workshops and culture session will provide a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about the dance, music and culture of Flambouro.  
     Yvonne Hunt, an internationally recognized instructor and authority on Greek folk music and dance, will make her Midwest debut at the Festival, along with noted musicians from Chicago and Flambouro. Ms. Hunt has lived and conducted music and folk dance research in Greece for 14 years.  She has taught dance extensively in Greece, as well as throughout Europe and North America.  Ms. Hunt is the author of several articles on the gypsy community of Flambouro and has more recently published a book on Greek dance, entitled Traditional Dance in Greek Culture.
     The Christos Karakostas Zournas & Daouli Ensemble direct from Flambouro is scheduled to appear at the Festival.  Mr. Karakostas learned zournas from his father and other master players of the village and is known not only for his playing but also his keen rapport with his audience.  Yiannis Metos also learned to play zournas from players in the village, and Dionysis Fotiou is a master daouli player.  They will join the other musicians in a live concert on Sunday afternoon, and also accompany the Orpheus Dance Troupe in a performance of dances from mainland Greece.  
     Jim Stoynoff is a well-known clarinet virtuoso based in Chicago, and his prowess ranges from regional Greek folk to Turkish classical music.  He has published numerous articles on the clarinet and clarinet players in Greece and Asia Minor.  Several of his regular local partners will be present with him at the Festival.  Guest musician Christos Govetas who grew up near Flambouro, will also be present.  He sings in numerous regional styles and plays laouto, bouzouki, clarinet and zournas.  Joe Zeytoonian is an accomplished singer, oud player and percussionist who is originally from Boston, but now lives in South Florida.  
     The Winter Greek Festival promises to be a fun, educational  and cultural experience for Greek folk music aficionados.  For tickets and more information about the Festival, please contact John Parrish at  (773) 493-2201 or visit our Web site at www.ohfs.org.  See you all at the Festival!
 
  Top of Page
 



  (By:  Yannis Economou)

     The past year has been a most extraordinary one for the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society and its Dance Troupe.  Never before has the Troupe participated in so many remarkable events.  The Chicago Diocese YAL Conference, the Greek Independence Day activities at Medinah Temple, St. John's Church and at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, leading the Greek American Parade, the Athens-Chicago Sister Cities Celebration, the 100th Year Anniversary Gala of Holy Trinity Church, the OXI Day celebration and the National Youth Rally at Navy Pier during the Patriarch's visit were just a few of them.  Participation in the above events demonstrates the confidence and trust that the Greek American community has in Orpheus' ability for quality presentations.
       Even though performing in Greece had always been a secret but distant desire, it was realized twice this past year!  The performances at the prestigious Herod Theater in Athens and Thessaloniki, the 1997 Cultural Capital of Europe, were successful not only from an artistic perspective, but created an even stronger link with the motherland.
       The creation of the Orpheus Web Page was a tremendous accomplishment that put the Society on the world map.  The encouraging responses and complimentary comments that have been received from places such as Australia, Alaska, Hungary, Italy, Canada, Greece and many others is a clear indication that the world is watching us!
       Orpheus' newsletter "Lyra" has made remarkable progress in circulation and quality of material.  It is very encouraging to see more Orpheus members contribute new ideas as well as interesting articles.
       Looking back at OHFS past accomplishments, I can only arrive at one conclusion: they were made a reality due to the collective efforts and initiatives of its members.  Every step was made with hard work, honesty, personal sacrifice and perseverance.  It is with these principles that OHFS will move forward in the future.
       As we look ahead to 1998, the members of OHFS will be looking forward to an exciting upcoming event.  On Friday, November 6, 1998,  OHFS will host its 10th Year Anniversary/Fundraiser at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Yes, it has been 10 years!  That day we will celebrate the accomplishments of the past, but we will also celebrate the beginning of the next decade!  Have a happy, healthy and peaceful 1998!

  Top of Page
 
 


 
Mass Media Presentation (By:  Voula Drougas)
   Last semester, my schedule at Northeastern University included a Mass Media class taught by Greek American professor Maria Moraites.  One of my assignments was to produce and edit a musically related video. Despite the fact that my school schedule did not allow me to attend the Orpheus Dance Troupe practices regularly, I decided to contact the troupe for some ideas.  The subject of the video ended up being a performance of the Orpheus Dance Troupe at St. Demetrios Church on October 28, 1997.  The video clip included interviews with Orpheus members as well as a comparative analysis with a performance from a dance group from Greece.  The class instructor was impressed with the final product and with the talent and professionalism of the dance troupe.  I am very grateful to the dancers and instructors of Orpheus for giving me the opportunity to utilize their resources.  I also feel very fortunate to be a member of this organization because I not only  gain physical and cultural training, but I also feel that I am in touch with my heritage
  

  Top of Page
 

Greek Dance at Emerson Jr. High School (By:  Pat Tomaras)
     I was offered a wonderful opportunity to teach Greek dance at Emerson Junior High School in Oak Park, Illinois.  A few students at the school are part of the International Dance Troupe, which performs Caribbean and West African Dances.  The dance troupe is sponsored by B.R.A.V.O!, with a grant from the Oak Park Area Arts Council. 

     Every year, the troupe hosts a program of colorful dances, in addition to two dances from a different part of the world.  "The idea is to learn about culture through the art of dance," stated Gail Leibman, an instructor and Advisory Board member of the dance troupe.  This year, the troupe chose to represent Greece and with five brief lessons, the students (consisting mostly of 8th graders) learned Kalamatianos and Issios, including variations for each dance. 

     I was amazed by the responsiveness, willingness to learn and determination exhibited by the students.  They are very talented and wonderful to work with!  They put on a great show with professional drummers and dancers for the Caribbean and West African dances, and they performed the Greek dances dressed in blue and white to represent the colors of the Greek flag.  Mrs. Leibman commented that she was "glad to offer her students the opportunity to learn (dances from different areas of the world) and she hopes to have the opportunity to work together again." 
     I encourage Mrs. Leibman to continue offering as many of these opportunities as she can to her students, because this is an excellent way for them to learn about different cultures, but also about teamwork and learning from one another.  I was overwhelmed by their warm welcome and appreciation of the Greek culture.  The students not only learned something from me, but I also learned a lot from them. It's important to learn about the cultures and traditions of others in our diverse society.  It is one thing to read and hear about these differences, but it is more meaningful to actually experience it! 
     I hope to have an opportunity like this again, and I am looking forward to attending the International Dance Troupe's performance at the Harold Washington Library in the upcoming month.  I encourage the students to keep up their great work, and to keep practicing, dancing and learning -- for you can never learn too much!


  Top of Page
 

Web Site Update 

Since its inception and with over 1,500 visits under its mouse pad, the Orpheus web site is undoubtedly a success!  The Orpheus web masters are constantly fine-tuning the site and updates are posted frequently.  Items of interest are: 
  
 We Get E-Mail.   No corner of the earth is left untouched by modern technology!  Orpheus has received E-mail comments and requests from as far away as Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Australia and Canada seeking information on Greek folk dance, upcoming performances, dance instruction -- even history on the mythical character of "Orpheus".
 Updates Button.   Now you don't have to browse through Orpheus' entire web site to find out what's new.  An "Updates" button is now located at the bottom of the home page.  Simply click on it and you will be instantly informed of new additions or updates to our site. 
 
 
 

  Top of Page
 
 First Annual Vasilopita
     With champagne glasses in hand and a heartfelt toast by Yianni (Economou), the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society kicked off 1998 at its First Annual Vasilopita cutting.  "This promises to be a tremendous year for the troupe," said Yianni, "and I am encouraged by everyone's enthusiasm and positive attitude."  Over 30 Orpheus members and friends participated in a celebration which brought everyone together over the holiday recess and proved to be quite educational!  

     The evening was organized to familiarize the dance troupe members with the extensive resources available through the Society.  Most of the evening was spent watching performance videos of different troupes, allowing everyone to see numerous variations in step, style and costume.  Also shown were dances being considered as additions to our repertoire, as well as OHFS' recent Museum of Science and Industry performance, giving everyone a chance to offer helpful comments and feedback.  For those who stayed to the very end, an impromptu "workshop" was held, featuring dance suites from Crete, Pontos and Kefallonia.  

     Orpheus would like to express their tremendous appreciation to the Tomaras family for offering to host the event and opening their home to us, as well as to Mrs. Dina Sianis, who baked two fabulous Vasilopites!  Good fortune and many blessings are extended to Elizabeth Economou, who found the coin in her piece of bread!  Thanks also to everyone who participated in making this event such a success -- let's make it a great year!

 


  Top of Page
 

A Letter to the Editor
 
      The days around the holiday season and especially Christmas are a family affair for the Greek culture.  The festive character of the season touches both young and old.  We feel the necessity to receive and offer wishes to everyone we care about.   Thus, I felt the urge to send my wishes to a very special Greek family that I love and respect -- the ORPHEUS family.  Allow me, before I extend my wishes, to offer a few thoughts to you.  I know most of you one way or another.  I have watched Orpheus' steps relatively closely.  I saw the troupe make its first but steady steps and with great effort has reached the level of quality that distinguishes it today! Allow me to make another parenthetical note.  Most of you are aware of the number of big organizations and associations which exist in our region.  None of them have what you possess!

     You are a unique group of young people who for years now, have contributed the best part of the Greek tradition to the Greek community.  You present the beautiful Greek dances which trace their roots back many centuries into history.  And you do it with love, respect and hard work.  By mentioning hard work, I recall the Thursday nights when you conduct your dance practice. I have seen both the instructors and the rest of you come to practice after work, school and family obligations for an exhaustive three hour practice.  In particular, what moves me the most is the love you display for the Greek dances and even more, the love and respect you have for each other.  I feel so proud when I see you work together or when you sometimes kid around and other times when you help each other.

     Be assured that when you wear those beautiful folk costumes during your performances, you make everyone proud.  It is my opinion (and I am certain it is shared by many members of our community) that you are the best ambassadors of Greece. You have such an extraordinary presence, not only at Greek functions, but also in your participation at other significant events in the American community at large.  There is no material reward for all that I have mentioned.  Your only reward is the knowledge that you acquire about the Greek culture and traditions, along with a sense of satisfaction with the knowledge that each of you has contributed to the group's mission with his/her own effort.
 
     I feel an overwhelming affection for anything Greek and especially the Greek dances, so allow me to offer some advice.  Always maintain the bond and love that brought you together so you can continue to work with the same dedication.  Try to make your great contribution even greater.  The Orpheus Dance Troupe is the most beautiful group of young people of our community, one which the Greek community has adopted with respect and admiration.

     I wish Orpheus all the best, and let 1998 be a productive and happy year. In addition, I wish you all  personal and family happiness.  With patriotic and motherly greetings,   Dina Sianis

 
Editor's Note: Dina Sianis is a Greek folklore enthusiast and mother of Orpheus member Sophia Sianis.
 


  Top of Page
 

Personal Announcements


  Top of Page
 
 

Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer...
 
    Sherry Dagrizikos
    Northbrook, IL
 
 

Parents/Family From:
I am of Polish ancestry, with roots in the town of Czersk (a village near Gdansk).  My husband's parents are from Greece: Vordonia (Sparti) and Magoula (Tripoli).
Occupation:
Legal Assistant/Paralegal
Years Dancing
With Orpheus:
Since 1994
Thoughts on Dancing:
Greek dancing connects me with my husband's heritage -- which I intend to pass down to my two daughters.
Favorite Dance:
Zervos, from the island of Karpathos.  The music from this island is so unique and the style so distinctive.  Zervos is one of the few Greek dances which moves to the left.
Most Vivid Orpheus Memory:
I have two:    1) The installation of Orpheus' web site on the Internet and 2) A performance for "Oxi" Day at St. Demetrios last October 1997.  While we were performing "Mikro Mou", a female dance from Megara, I gazed into the audience to discover a small cluster of women singing along with us.  These women could very well have been from Megara, because they, too, sang each and every word of the song!  It was so very gratifying to see the joy in their eyes.
Where I Heard
About Orpheus:
Through fellow dance member Marianna Gudmundsson, who was teaching at a dancing school.  I wanted to learn how to Greek dance for the baptism of my daughter, Athanasia.  I enjoyed Greek dance so much that, after completing my initial dance lessons, I joined the Orpheus Dance Troupe
    

 
  Top of Page
 

Return to Newsletter
 

   HOME
 

Board of Directors  |  Costume Collection  |  Dance Highlights  |  Dance Instructors  |  Dance Repertoire
Links  |  Mission Statement  |  Newsletter  |  Orpheus In GreecePicture Gallery  |  Practice Schedule
T-Shirts / Sweatshirts   |  Upcoming Performances  |  World Cup Video