Lyra Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter

July 1998

PDF version of newsletter

Orpheus Anniversary Benefit
Educational Article:  Costume of Kavakli
Orpheus Youth Group
Chicago SummerDance 1998
Ethnic Fashion Show
Fort Wayne Revisited
Web Site Update
Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer
Personal Announcements


Orpheus to Celebrate 10-Year Anniversary Benefit at Chicago Cultural Center

    Preparations for the 10-Year Anniversary Benefit of the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society are well under way!  This special event will take place on Friday, November 6, 1998 at the Chicago Cultural Center in downtown Chicago, at the elegant Sydney Yates Gallery between 6:30-10:30 p.m.  The organizing committee is planning a memorable evening full of entertainment, delicious food and cultural exhibits.  The Hellenic Five Orchestra, Jim Stoynoff and other fellow musicians will not only offer their talents for OHFS and its guests, but will also accompany the Orpheus Dance Troupe for two exciting dance presentations!  These performances will include original material presented for the first time in Chicago!  An unlimited open wine bar and buffet will be featured by one of Chicago's premiere eateries, Pegasus Restaurant.  In addition, one of the evening's major attractions will be a display featuring significant moments from Orpheus' past ten years.  The comprehensive display will include pictures, news clips, posters, flyers and other memorabilia.  An overview of Orpheus Dance Troupe past performances will be shown on video and the Society's web page will be up and running on a PC for everyone to browse!  The display is a tribute not only to past accomplishments of the OHFS, but is also an expression of gratitude to the community for its continued support.  Part of the display will be exhibited at the James Thompson Center (ex-Illinois Center Building) in downtown Chicago during the last two weeks of October.  This arrangement was made in cooperation with the Office of the Governor for Ethnic Affairs and its representative, Mrs. Pat Mikalski and is sponsored by the Chicago-Athens Sister City committee.

     The OHFS 10-Year Anniversary event has been  endorsed by the Chicago-Athens Friendship Committee, which is part of the City of Chicago International Sister City Program.  Hosting this event at the Chicago Cultural Center exhibits the close relationship the OHFS has established not only with the Sister City Program, but also with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, whose headquarters are in the same building.

     Admission is $35 per person and all proceeds will help support the Society's educational programs and the maintenance and expansion of its costume collection.  In addition, a special Costume Donor Program has been created exclusively for this event.  It provides the opportunity for individuals and businesses to donate a  folk costume to the Orpheus Dance Troupe.  A costume donation is $350.  Please contact the Society to receive a costume donor package in the mail.  All donors will receive complimentary tickets and will be recognized in the Benefit's official program and will be listed on the OHFS web page. 

    Come and celebrate this momentous event for the OHFS and the Orpheus Dance Troupe.  We hope your support will enable us to continue to offer quality programs for the Greek-American community for the next 10 years!

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Educational Article:  Costume of Kavakli 

      The people of Kavakli arrived as refugees in 1906 and settled in a number of villages in Northern Greece.  The region, which along with the villages of Sozopolis, Anchialo,  Stenimacho and Mesimvria (among others) was in Northern Thrace, is today part of Bulgaria.  The splendor of the Kavakli costume provides us with a good idea of the high standard of civilization in the region.  The women wove and embroidered their clothes themselves with stitching of exquisite quality.  The shirt reached halfway down the calf.

     The upper part, called the "parta," was made of deep blue woven cotton cloth and the skirt of white.  The embroidery around the neck, cuffs and hem was done using multi-colored threads of silk or wool.  The sleeveless woolen garment worn over this, known as the "tsoukmani" or "tsoukna," was dyed a deep blue before being sewn.  The opening of the bodice was richly embroidered with brightly colored threads.  The women pleated the skirt themselves, decorating the hem with strips of silk, gold braid and embroidery.  It was always kept shorter than the skirt underneath so as not to obscure the decoration around the hem.  The four-meter long woolen sash was usually red with multi-colored stripes and sewn on the slant for a better fit at the waist.  Over it was tied the woolen apron with its woven embroidery.

     It was possible to distinguish between married or single women, mothers or women in mourning, just by looking at the type of apron worn.  In the old days, they wore silver chains hung with small decorations across the bosom, with a close-fitting silver necklace of agates and other pendants around the neck.  Later the bridegroom gave his bride chains of gold coins.

     In winter, the women wore a sleeveless topcoat made of woven wool, which was modestly stitched and embroidered around the hem by local tailors using dark-colored ribbon.  The hair was plaited into two braids that hung down the back.  The little flat fez was shrouded with a printed woolen scarf folded into a band.  In the past, they used to coil the braids of hair beneath the scarf.  Over this was thrown a large printed wool or wool-and-silk scarf with a fringe, the ends hanging down loose; it was held in place with a pin at the base of the plaits.

     The "bapka," a decoration consisting of 5, 10 or even 15 coins arranged in the shape of a cross, was attached to the fez and hung down over the forehead.  A present from her mother-in-law, a woman wore this on her wedding day as a talisman; after the birth of the second or third child, it was removed.  For everyday use, homemade dark blue cotton or woolen stockings were worn.  The bride's stockings were white and embroidered with tiny stitches on the ankles.  The wearing of western-style, shop-bought shoes was adopted quite early on.  The costume continued to be worn in Greece as well, but was simplified bit by bit until it was finally abandoned altogether.  It belongs to the category of village type costumes.

Source: 40 Greek Folk Costumes from the Dora Stratou Theatre Collection, 1993, pg. 60 

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Orpheus Youth Group

     The Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society is pleased to announce the expansion of its Greek folk dance instruction with the introduction of the Orpheus Youth Dance Group!  Beginning in September, 1998, dance classes will be offered to children 11-14 years of age, where they will be taught traditional folk dances by veteran instructors and members of the Orpheus Dance Troupe.

     The children will learn basic dance steps of traditional Greek folk dances of the Greek mainland as well as the islands.  Along with dance instruction, special emphasis will be placed on teaching the history of each dance, where the dance originated in Greece and its significance in Greek folk tradition.  In addition, selected Greek folk songs will also be taught to the students.  There will also be an opportunity for the young dancers to perform what they've learned during the year!

     In keeping with its mission of preserving and perpetuating the Greek folk dance tradition, the OHFS feels this young group will provide an excellent opportunity to expose the youth of our community to Greek folk dance, history and traditional folk songs.  The OHFS believes it is important for our youth to learn about their Greek heritage and the richness of its culture.  The vast dance resources of the OHFS, combined with its experience in applying teaching techniques for this age group, is certain to create an enjoyable learning environment for the youth group!

     Dance instruction will begin Thursday, September 24 and continue through May 27.  Classes will be held every Thursday from 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at River Park in Chicago.  The one-year registration fee is $200, which includes all instruction fees, performance fees, costumes and an official Orpheus Dance Troupe T-shirt!  For additional information or to register, please call Bessie Grosso at (773)286-5132, Yannis Economou at (847)657-0958 or send an Email.  Registration has already begun and class space is limited, so please register early!

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Chicago SummerDance 1998

     The Orpheus Dance Troupe is set to participate in the city's newest summer festival, the second annual "Chicago Summer Dance" held in Grant Park.  The popular festival is organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and is an event of free public dancing and dance lessons to a variety of live ethnic music.

     Orpheus members Alexander Kapotas and Christina Pagones will be featured on Thursday, July 16 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. teaching various Greek dances, accompanied by music of The Hellenic Five.  From 7:30-9:30, festival participants will be able to apply the dance moves they learn during 2 hours of live Greek music under the stars!

     "We are delighted to bring back "Chicago SummerDance" after the enthusiastic response from participants and spectators last year," commented Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg.  The festival runs Thursday-Sunday evenings July 9 through September 20, and features an eclectic selection of music and dancing, including Afro-Cuban, big band, Brazilian, Celtic, Greek, reggae and salsa (to name a few) accompanied by a selection of Chicago's hottest bands.

     Participants will dance under a special lighted pavilion framing the 2,500 square foot open-air dance floor made of recycled plastic and created by Chicago artist Dan Peterman.  Food and beverages are available for purchase and a seating area is provided at the site, which is Grant Park's A. Montgomery Ward Garden, across from the Chicago Cultural Center.

     The event should prove to be fun for all. For more information on "Chicago SummerDance," please call (312)744-6630.

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Ethnic Fashion Show
    On Wednesday July 1, Orpheus members Panagiota Pappas and Yannis Economou took part in an Ethnic Fashion Show at the open-air Daley Civic Center area in downtown Chicago.  The event was part of the popular "Under the Picasso" program, which is presented at noon each weekday and is sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.  The show's theme was "A Nation of Immigrants" in celebration of the Fourth of July and featured traditional costumes from over twenty-five ethnic communities of the Chicagoland area such as China, Guatemala, Croatia, Serbia, Italy, Philippines, Kuwait, Palestine, Ukraine, Japan and many others.   The Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society has made several appearances in past years at Daley Plaza and is always honored to represent the Greek community at citywide events. 

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Fort Wayne Revisited

       During the last weekend of June, the Orpheus Dance Troupe performed at the Greek Festival in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The festival is sponsored by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Wayne and is one of the biggest summer events in the city, attracting big crowds!    As in past years, Orpheus performed both a mainland and island program, including  new dances the group recently added to its repertoire.

     This is the seventh time Orpheus has participated in the festival and during this period, a special bond has been established between the Troupe members and the Greek community in Fort Wayne.  Orpheus instructors have conducted dance workshops for the local church dance group in the past and its director, Michelle Kyrou, has visited Chicago in pursuit of additional resources from OHFS.

     The participating group members, after a fun and exhausting trip that included four performances in very hot and humid weather, returned to Chicago in the early morning hours on Sunday to prepare for yet another performance at St. Simeon Serbian Orthodox Church.  A very warm thank you is extended to Michelle, the Hellenic Dancers, and to all members of the Fort Wayne community.  We look forward to seeing you all again next year! 
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Web Site Update

      Orpheus has switched to a "frames" style format.  A permanent, stationary index will now appear at the left of your screen. This format should make it easier for viewers to navigate the OHFS web site.  The following new categories/pages have been added:

Costume Donor Program - information on how you can become a costume donor to help supplement the  OHFS costume collection.  

Orpheus Youth Group - a new and exciting Greek folk dance program for kids ranging from 11 to 14 years of age.  You will find all the details about the Youth Group on this page. 

Greek Folk Dance Workshops  - this page was created to inform dancers of workshops being conducted throughout the United States, Canada and Greece and will be updated periodically.  Please e-mail us with news of upcoming workshops in your area!

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Personal Announcements 

  • The Orpheus Dance Troupe welcomes Kanella Maniatis, Behrouz Enayati, Mike Spanos and Eleni Tomaras who joined the Troupe in May/June.
  • Congratulations to Jim Thanopoulos for his first performance with Orpheus at St. Simeon Serbian Orthodox Church!
  • The Orpheus Dance Troupe was featured in a front page article and accompanying photograph in the suburban Life newspaper for the Skokie Festival of Cultures.
  • Wishing everybody who will visit Greece this year a grand old time: Sophia Sianis, Elias Christopoulos, Alex Christopoulos, John and Elizabeth Economou, Nick Christopoulos, Sophia Tsipianitis and Diana Kekatos.
  • Good luck to Orpheus member Sophia Prassas who will be attending Monash University in Melbourne, Australia for an entire year beginning July 8, 1998.  Sophia was accepted into the student exchange program of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  While in Melbourne, Sophia will be taking psychology courses which will be applied towards her general education requirements.  She also hopes to fit some sightseeing into her busy study schedule!
  • Congratulations to Orpheus member Antony Giannopoulos for his individual 2nd place and 5th team award in the American Computer Science League competition held in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Antony is a sophomore student at Fenwick High School.
  • Orpheus Alumni Stavros Vagios (who now resides in Athens, Greece) visited Chicago last month and had the opportunity to catch up on the latest news from Orpheus.  Stavros keeps in touch with a number of past Orpheus members who reside in Greece.  One of them, Kostas Pichos, has joined the Lyceum of Greek Women Dance Group in the Athens suburb of Kiffisia.
  • Congratulations to Orpheus members Christina and Niki Rigas who joined the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Board of Directors in June.
  • Congratulations to Kostas and former Orpheus member Kelly Apostolopoulos on the birth of their son, Christos.
  • The Orpheus Dance Troupe welcomes Soula Skokos, Antoniou Konstantinos, Jim Thanopoulos, Vasilios Prassas, Angelina Marie Panovic, Dina Maglanes, Alexandros Pavlos, Jamie Kogos and Karen Florest who joined the troupe in February/March.

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Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer... 

Christina Pagones 
Chicago, IL

Parents/Family From:

Maternal Grandfather: Skopelos 
Maternal Grandmother: Paleohori,      Peloponnese 
Paternal Grandfather: Rizes, Tripoli 
Paternal Grandmother: Kalamata


Years Dancing

With Orpheus:
Since 1994

Thoughts on Dancing:

I have always loved to dance; for me, it is a very personal expression of emotion.  As Jacques D'Amboise (Artistic Director, National Dance Institute) noted, dance is "in your pulse, it's your heartbeat, it's your breathing.  It's the rhythms of your life...the expression in time and movement of happiness and joy and sadness and energy...It's extraordinary, and that's common to all the cultures and it's common to all individuals."

Favorite Dance:

  I especially enjoy island dances.  The fluid steps and arm movements allow me to express myself more freely and I love the drama and emotion in the music of the island lyra.

Most Vivid Orpheus Memory:

This past September, when I had the opportunity to perform in the Herodeon Atticus Theater in Athens.  I had always hoped to dance in Greece someday, and there was nothing like the feeling of performing in the ancient theatre with other Greek dancers from around the world, with my father's relatives from Athens in the audience.
Where I Heard About Orpheus:
Through friends who were members of Orpheus, and seeing the troupe perform at various events.

Editor’s Note: The preceding feature "Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer” will include short biographical profiles of Orpheus members.

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