Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter
Fall 2000

PDF version of newsletter

Previous issues of Lyra
Hara Deliyannis  Returns for a Summer Visit
6th Annual Evanston Ethnic Festival
Another Exciting Year Begins for the Youth Group
The Island of Thassos
Island Hoping: Paros and Thassos
Metsovo: A Well-Kept Greek Secret
Top 10
Taste of Greece: Food, Music and Culture
An Ode to the Joy of Watermelons and Dancing Tsamiko
Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer
Hara Deliyannis
Returns for a Summer Visit
Hara Deliyiannis with members of the Orpheus Dance TroupeThe summer season for the Orpheus Dance Troupe usually includes performances at outdoor ethnic festivals and church picnics. This summer was made even more special for the group because for more than five weeks, the Troupe had the pleasure of hosting Ms. Hara Deliyannis, a guest instructor from Greece.  Hara has been a member and instructor with the renowned Lykeio of Greek Women Dance Group in Athens for over 30 years during which time she has taught at other branches of this national cultural organization. She is not a stranger to Chicago however, as she has relatives in the city and had previously taught at Orpheus practices two years ago. Back then, she brought educational material for the group from other Lykeio instructors. Soon though, she was transformed into being one of the troupe's favorite instructors, teaching her own dance repertoire.

This year, Hara had the opportunity to instruct not only at the adult group practices but also several of the youth group's summer practice sessions. Her experience in stage presentation, instructional techniques, knowledge of costumes and accessories and most of all, her effective style in dealing with dancers was extremely useful. Hara's son, Rafael, also made the trip and had the chance to participate in several of the Troupe's summer performances. The presentations at the Evanston Ethnic Art Fair and the Greek Town Festival included material that was covered during the summer.   Hara and other instructors from the Lykeio, such as Nancy Harmanta, continue to advise the Troupe in all matters and we are sincerely grateful for such expert and generous assistance.

Our gratitude and thanks go to Mrs. Vadevoulis and La Francese Bakery for sponsoring Hara's trip to Chicago. Without their assistance, the Orpheus Dance Troupe would not have been able to acquire the knowledge and resources that Hara's presence brought to the group. The Troupe is committed to presenting the Greek American community with elements about its heritage and culture, which are authentic and inspiring.

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6th Annual Evanston Ethnic Festival
Orpheus Youth Members performing at the Evanston Ethnic Fair Dawes Park in Evanston sits along the shores of Lake Michigan and is the setting for the annual Evanston Ethnic Art Fair, which the Orpheus Dance Troupe participated in again this summer.

This year, a warm and sunny day greeted members of the youth and adult dance groups who gathered together in the park for back-to-back performances on Sunday, July 16. The dressing rooms and stage overlooked the lake, and the setting was reminiscent of places in Greece, with the waves of the water rocking against the huge boulders along the shoreline. Orpheus was especially excited to have Hara Deliyannis and her son Rafael join them at this popular summer festival, which is one of Orpheus' favorite performing venues. Hara is an instructor with the renowned Lyceum of Athens dance group who spent five weeks with Orpheus in July.

Organized chaos ensued as the dancers crowded into one small tent to change into costume. Dancers and shoes and costume pieces were flying everywhere, but Hara was on hand to help and she gave the girls helpful hints on how to put on the headpieces of their costumes from Thassos. Rafael joined both the youth and adult groups for some dances, and was a welcome addition!  With Hara cheering them on from the audience, first on stage was the Orpheus Youth Group, who rose to the occasion and gave a tremendous performance of dances they learned from Hara only three weeks earlier! Their repertoire included the following dances: Kamara from the island of Skiathos, Pentozalis from the island of Kos, Yannis o Marathianos from the island of Lefkada, Yiar-Yiar from the island of Samothraki and Arhontogios from the island of Thassos. Way to go!

The adult group took the stage next, and debuted several dances from islands of the Northern and Eastern Aegean along with a couple of dances from Asia Minor that incorporated the use of spoons.  After the performance, a lot of picture-taking took place with Hara and Rafael and everyone climbed up on the rocks for a succession of group shots! All in all, Orpheus enjoyed another great day of dancing at the Evanston Ethnic Festival. Hope to see you again next year!

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Another Exciting Year Begins for the Youth Group
Glenview Saturday Practice The Orpheus Youth Group has ushered in the fall season with the start of its third consecutive year of dance classes.

This year's sessions began on September 14, and the group is eagerly anticipating another full year of learning traditional folk dances. Again this year, classes are being held at the Chicago branch every Thursday evening, and at the Glenview branch every Saturday afternoon. All youth ages 10-14 are encouraged to come for dancing and fun!

Plans are underway for the group to expand its repertoire to include dances from the Epirotan region of Metsovo, Anatoliki Roumelia (Eastern Thrace) and the islands of Limnos and Kos. Basic instruction will continue to focus on the mainland regions of Macedonia and Epirus and emphasis will be placed on expression, dancing in couples and singing.

The young dancers can look forward to dancing at the annual Museum of Science and Industry Christmas Around the World event in December, which has always been one of the highlights of celebrating the Christmas season. In May, the annual Skokie Festival of Cultures is another venue for the young dancers to join the adult group in displaying their dancing skills.
The OHFS is extremely proud of its youth program, and each year the group has grown to include more young dancers and add new material to its repertoire. Also, it has been exciting and rewarding to see members of the youth progress to performing with the adult group this past year!

Classes are held every Thursday at River Park in Chicago from 6:15 - 7:15 p.m. and every Saturday afternoon in Glenview from 1:15 - 2:15 p.m. For more information or to register your child, please contact Orpheus Youth Group Coordinator Bessie Kouchoukos-Grosso at 773-286-5132 or Yannis Economou at 847-657-0958 or visit for practice schedules and registration fees.

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The Island of Thassos
Monastery of Archagel MichaelThassos, the northernmost of the islands of the Aegean Sea, is of volcanic origin, mountainous, and of great natural beauty. Situated close to the mainland, it faces the boundary between Macedonia and Thrace. It belongs to the jurisdiction of the Prefecture of Kavala.

The population of Thassos is approximately 18,000 and is distributed between the capital Limenas and ten other villages, of which the most modern is Limenaria, on the southwest coast. In the coastal areas, tobacco and olives are cultivated. The marble quarries of Thassos have always been famous. Minerals worked today include silver, antimony, and zinc.

Mythology says that the island took its name from the hero Thassos who reached the island in search of his sister, Europa, taken away by Zeus who was in love with her. Excavations attest to the fact that Thassos was inhabited from Prehistoric times. In essence, however, the island's history begins with the arrival of the first Greek settlers from the island of Paros. In the beginning of the 7th century BC, Parians under Telesikli's command, who was poet Archilochos's father, settled the area around Limenas and established their capital named Thassos. The island became a wealthy commercial center, known throughout the Mediterranean for its marble, wine, oil and mines.  The island's decline began during the Byzantine period. Thassos was occupied by the Franks (1205), the Byzantines (1350) and, for many centuries, by the Turks (1455-1813).

Thassos, like the rest of Greece, has a rich folklore. Today, the traditional customs on the island have disappeared, giving way to the modern way of life. However, many of the local customs are celebrated during important feast days and festivals. Nowadays the use of traditional costumes has been abandoned. The colored and ornate traditional costumes are now exhibited in museum halls or worn during festivities. However, despite their abandonment in everyday life, their aesthetic value is great. The handmade adornments are distinguished for their inventiveness and skill. The imaginative ornaments that decorate them are the works of experienced hands. They are individual works, the creation of which required time and labor. The female costume of Thassos consisted of the shirt, the long dress, in bright colors, and the gold embroidered waistcoat. Over the dress, the women used to wear a colorful apron with round-laced edges. The waist was wrapped with a wide belt. A kerchief with long fringes completed the costume. The men's costume was simpler. The lower part of the body was covered by the dark-colored vraka (breeches) while on the upper body they wore a white shirt with long sleeves and over it the gileko (vest), a short sleeveless waistcoat. The waist was wrapped with a long and wide belt with fringes while the head was covered by a fez.

Thassos Map
Important aspects of the folklore include customs that accompany the engagement, wedding or baptism and embellish Christmas, Epiphany and Easter. Traditions also include the events that accompany labor such as the grape harvest, the treading of grapes and the picking of olives. These are customs met, with small variations, all over Greece.

Thassos has a rich musical tradition with a characteristic lyric and musical color. The principal instruments of the traditional songs of Thassos were the bagpipe, violin, clarinet, lute, daouli, darabukke, and cimbalom. Other instruments used were the mandolins, which at the beginning of the twentieth century were often played in Thassos by local instrument players. A short time later the accordion appeared. At the same time the shepherd pipes were used. These were made by the people of the fields and the mountains.  Very little is known about the traditional songs of Thassos. But all these beautiful songs are gradually disappearing together with the old people.  These songs speak of love, happy love, unfulfilled love, murder because of love, songs of Easter, carnivals, "table" songs etc. The most characteristic are the "table" songs. By contrast, the dancing songs are more easily transferred from place to place due to their entertaining character.  Most of the dances of Thassos are open or broken circle dances consisting of a chain of mixed women and men linked together by various handholds. A woman usually leads the dancers. The majority of the dances move in a counter-clockwise direction with the dancers facing slightly right of the center of the circle maintaining themselves on the perimeter of the circle.

 The dances usually require roughly the same effort as a person walking. The most common dance pattern used is the "Sta Tria" i.e. "in or by threes", which means that the dancer takes three walking steps in a somewhat sideways direction to the right. Some of the songs that follow this pattern are "Ola ta poulakia" (All the Birds), "Chrisos Aetos" (Golden Eagle), "Poulaki Eixa sto Klouvi" (I Had a Bird in a Cage), "O Orkos" (The Oath). The "Sta Tria" pattern consists of a total of six movements. All patterns of dances are repeated continuously or alternate with another pattern until a song ends.



"Thassos"-Adams Editions

"Traditional Songs of Thassos" - Roula Loukoumi-CD Booklet

Lyceum of Ellinidon of Athens Booklet - Winter Dance Conference, Tarpon Springs, Florida

Internet Links:

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Island Hoping: Paros and Thassos
By  Yannis Economou
Nikos Gavalas with John and Katerina Economou While vacationing in Greece, it is almost unthinkable not to look for an opportunity to see a Greek folk dance performance or visit a bookstore or museum with the hope of finding more resources to bring back to the Orpheus Dance Troupe. It is the place where everything started, after all!

My trip to Greece this summer with my brother Kostas and the rest of the family found us, at the beginning of our trip, on the island of Paros. Upon our arrival, we contacted Nikos Gavalas, who currently resides in Florida.  Nikos lived for more than ten years on the island where he also performed with the local dance group. We became acquainted indirectly from his attendance at a dance conference in Tarpon Springs, Florida where he taught dances from Paros and met up with participating Orpheus members. He informed us that the local dance group was performing that same evening so we rushed to the island's capital, Naoussa. The performance took place at a picturesque yard in one of the town's churches. Local musicians filled the night air with traditional island music that accompanied the dancers and singers. By coincidence, one of the guests attending was Mr. Alkis Raftis, president of the Dora Stratou Dance Theater.  We introduced ourselves to him and he was pleased to hear of our close involvement with his organization during past dance conferences as well as during the exhibit of the Dora Stratou costume collection at the Chicago Historical Society a few years ago.

Katerina Economou with a member of the Paros Dance TroupeAt the conclusion of the performance we joined the dance line with the dancers and audience members and danced syrtos and ballos. While dancing, we were caught by surprise when we heard a voice asking "Aren't you from the Orpheus Dance Troupe in Chicago?" That voice belonged to Angela Tsakiris, a Chicago YAL member who has seen us perform on numerous occasions. She had just returned from Constantinople on a trip organized by the Chicago Greek Orthodox Diocese, which Orpheus member Alex Kapotas also attended. What a small world! We met up with Niko a couple more times and most likely will run into him again at a future dance occasion. We cannot thank him enough for his hospitality!

Off we were to the island of Thassos in Macedonia, where once again we conducted dance lessons for many eager members of the bungalow complex in which we reside every summer. The enthusiasm was as high as ever and all participants had the opportunity to demonstrate the fruits of their efforts during a local gathering and also at my son's baptism reception. It is so refreshing to observe individuals from all parts of the world enjoying and appreciating this experience so much and looking forward to it every year! While in Athens, a couple of days before our departure back to Chicago, we had the opportunity to attend one of the Dora Stratou performances at their theater in Philopappou Hill. George Mavropoulos, the group's director, spotted us in the audience and was happy to see us again. He informed us that after its summer run the dance group would embark on a European tour.  We also met up with Hara Deliyannis, our summer guest instructor. It had only been a few days since we had been sweating together during our practices in Chicago! Kai tou hronou!

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Metsovo: A Well-Kept Greek Secret
By Alexander Kapotas
Alex with members of Metsovo Dance Troupe In northern Greece in the area of Epirus, there is a small town called Metsovo. Although only about 3,000 people call this place home, people visit Metsovo for many different reasons. It boasts steep mountain slopes for the ski aficionados and wonderful dishes and cheeses for those seeking to taste the flavors of the region. Metsovo has rich historical and folk traditions, and design of the homes and buildings in the town makes one feel as if he has left Greece and warped into a village in the Alps. Anyone I had ever spoken to who visited Metsovo insisted that I should visit the town the next time I was in Greece. After performing for the local Metsovitan society dinner dance in 1999, I promised myself I would make my way there and discover firsthand exactly what makes this town so remarkable.

Although most people head to the coastlines and beaches of Greece during the summer to escape the heat, I was determined to find my way to Metsovo. I met up with my friend Nick, and carrying only our backpacks, cameras, and a few bus schedules written on scrap paper, we caught the early morning bus for Ioannina, which would eventually take us to our destination. During the bus ride, Nick asked me why I wanted to visit Metsovo. "I heard it was a cool place," was my response, even though I really didn't;t have an answer. And a cool place it was indeed!

We knew we were going to love Metsovo the moment the bus pulled up to the station. The streets were paved with stones and every building featured a stone ground floor and wood-sided upper floors complete with eaves and overhangs. Vendors lined the streets, welcoming us into their stores as we walked by, and occasionally we would pass two or three yiayiades walking arm-in-arm, dressed in their traditional aprons and kerchiefs. As we walked along the narrow streets, we made our way in and out of stores and talked to the locals. Nick and I kept expressing our amazement: because of its unique characteristics, Metsovo had to be one of the best-kept secrets in Greece!  After dinner, we went looking for recordings of traditional folk music from Metsovo. Following several unsuccessful attempts, we were advised to visit Eleni, the café owner's wife who also directs the local dance troupe. I introduced myself to her and it was not long before we figured out that her troupe had loaned us the beautiful costumes we used for our performance a year earlier. Eleni left the store and returned within minutes carrying exactly what I was looking for, a CD recording of folk music from Metsovo.  Nick and I left the café, walked down to the square, and ran into Eleni once again. This time, she introduced us to a few of the other dance troupe members: Georgia, Matoula and Lambi, the president of the folk society who was in Chicago in 1999 for the dinner and saw our performance. Although we had not previously met, he recognized me instantly as the "tall guy" from the video of the performance. After this experience, I became convinced that in order to understand exactly how small the world is, one must travel to the other side of it. I'm sure many of you will agree.

We spent the remainder of our evening with our new parea, who showed us around Metsovo and explained to us its history and charm in a way that no book or brochure could ever capture. Conversation was abundant and the humor of our company kept us laughing throughout the whole night. In fact, we changed our plans the following night to stay a bit longer in our new "favorite" city. We were able to see the troupe practice for the big dance festival planned for the weekend, and they ran through a series of dances, many of which were the exact same steps I had learned just the year before.   They invited me to join the line and I was able to pick up on the step as if I had been a part of their troupe for years. The bond that common folk dance knowledge creates between people continues to amazes me.

After two days in Metsovo, the time came for us to leave. We did the customary exchange of addresses and phone numbers and left the village with the promise that we would meet up again one day, either in Metsovo or in the States. Apparently, plans were being made for the whole group to visit Chicago and perform at the annual Metsovitiko society dinner, the same dinner where my desire to visit this place was born. I anxiously await the next time I can visit Metsovo, and hope I get the chance to one day be reunited with the friends I have there. However, it might happen that one day I could be enjoying a frappe in a coffee shop in some corner of the world and turn around to see that same parea sitting at the table next to me, and we could pick up our friendship right where we left off.

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Top 10 List
bs00554_.wmf (3982 bytes)Top Ten Christmas Gift Ideas For An Orpheus Dancer

From the home office in
Moustoukoulouro, Greece
  1. "Lyceum of Athens performance video or calendar"
  2. "Pre-paid annual registration"
  3. "Yiannis/Kostas shaped salt & pepper shakers "
  4. "A get-out-of-practice free card"
  5. "A stylish Orpheus sweatshirt"
  6. "Portable dressing rooms"
  7. "Dr. Scholl's insoles"
  8. "Breath mints"
  9. "Singing lessons"

    and the number one Christmas gift idea for an Orpheus dancer...
  1. "Deodorant"
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Taste of Greece: Food, Music and Culture
Orpheus Booth at the Greek Town FestivalFor many years now, the last weekend of August has been reserved for the "Taste of Greece" festival in Greek Town in which the Orpheus Dance Troupe has been participating for the last ten years!

Despite the fact that today's Greek Town consists of a short strip of restaurants, clubs and other businesses, somehow it still maintains part of the aura of the past. During those early years, the area numbered thousands of residents of Hellenic descent and was truly a center of Greek culture and immigrant life. How else can one explain the huge crowds that show up every year at the festival to be consumed by the intense smoke billowing from the food booths or the deafening music emanating from the latest trendy clubs or radio stations?

Present among these booths was the Orpheus booth, aiming to promote and inform guests about the organization's activities and programs. It is always encouraging to see the interest and recognition that the Troupe receives not only by Greek Americans but also by members of the American community at large.

This year's performance of dances from the Greek islands was received enthusiastically by the audience, who truly inspired the Orpheus members to put forth their best effort. The material presented included dances that were taught during the summer by our guest instructor from Greece, Ms. Hara Deliyannis. The rendition of the song "Ola Ta Poulakia" by Sophia Tsipianitis was memorable and led a speechless audience to erupt in thunderous applause at its conclusion! It is this very warm reception that brings the Orpheus Dance Troupe back to Greek Town year after year.

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An Ode to the Joy of Eating Watermelons and Dancing Tsamiko
By Harry Georgakopoulos
Why is it that there exist all these questions that no one has the answers to? Anyone? Why do we work? Why do we dance?

Since the moral and social implications of working have no particular relevance to the Orpheus Dance Troupe, I should probably get to my main point... watermelons! Just kidding. Actually the main focus of this article is dancing.

I'm sure many of you experience a sense of excitement and joy whenever you participate in a dance practice, attend a performance or even when you dance Tsifteteli on top of a table in Vareladiko (a Greek nightclub). The reason I'm sure about this, is because I experience the same sensations whenever I dance (not Tsifteteli, of course!). What interests me however, is the true motive behind my bewildering elation before, during, and after dancing. 

Have any of you felt similar philosophical qualms about your dancing experiences? Well, here is an expose into the mind of Harry G.

At first, I thought the reason I enjoyed dancing so much was because I get the opportunity to wear a foustanella and tights at every performance. After putting some further thought into the matter, I came to the conclusion that this could not explain the persistence of my dancing glee while wearing jeans, or even in the total absence of clothes! Maybe I enjoy dancing  because in my mind I associate Greek dancing with church picnics, where delicious gyros souvlaki is usually served. And given that I like souvlaki, my subconscious mind somehow intertwined with my craving for tzatziki sauce with my Tsamiko footwork! Maybe the inspiring presence of the wonderful twins Yannis and Kostas at every Thursday practice is reason enough for my feelings.

How about this theory: The reason we enjoy Greek dancing is because it establishes us as part of a culture that enjoys life for what it really is. A culture that doesn't ask unanswerable questions about the nature or the workings of happiness, but instead accepts and embraces it without a doubt of authenticity. Too banal? That's what I think too. I guess the only thing that's certain is that dancing does make a difference in my life. And to tell you the truth, I really don't care where the sensations and emotions arise from. As long as they exist.

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Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer...
Demetrios Thanopoulos or Jim (TZIM) for short
Demetrios (Jim) Thanopoulos

Arlington Heights, IL

Parents/Family From:

Two little villages near Tripoli
Father: Saga
Mother: Louka


Design Engineer.

Time Dancing with Orpheus Group:

Two and a half years.

Thoughts on Dancing:

Dancing is good way to forget about life's problems and just have a good time.

Favorite Dance:

Since I've joined Orpheus, I've learned a lot of new, fun, and exciting dances that I never even knew existed. Maybe it's the traditional side in me, but my favorite two dances are Kalamatianos and Tsamikos.

Most Vivid OHFS Memory:

In the short time that I've been with Orpheus, there have been many unforgettable memories, but my fondest memories come from the "Orpheus 10 Year Anniversary Benefit". We all worked hard to prepare for that night, and everything turned out perfect. Everyone had an excellent time!

Favorite Greek Dish:

Lamb with oven baked potatoes.

Favorite Place in Greece:

It doesn't matter as long as I'm there. Though I've always had a great time hanging out in the village with my close family and friends.

Hobbies/Sports/Other Interests:

Traveling, camping/backpacking/climbing, exercise/fitness, and cars/motorcycles/anything with a motor that goes fast!!!

Where I heard about Orpheus Dance Troupe:

My cousin Patty had been bugging me for at least a year to come and check out the group and see if I liked it. I finally showed up to a practice, and have been hooked ever since. I only wish I had joined sooner.

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Welcome to new Orpheus members: Peggy Gatsinos, Eleni Gouvas, Chris Papadopoulos, Sophia Radlowski, and Ageliki Siargos.

Welcome to new Orpheus Youth members: Danae Alexopoulos, Nicole Alexopoulos, Irene Chiotis, Joanna Chiotis, Anna Colis, Vivian Danaskos, Joy Economos, Pamela Economos, George Kakis, Vasiliki Kourkouvis, George Louras, Pete Louras, Charlie Mellos, John Mellos, Sylvia Naum, Peter Papageorgiou, Renee Papageorgiou, Alexandra Usher, Nicholas Vass, Peter Vass

Balloon3.wmf (14594 bytes)Birthday greetings to Patty Pappas on October 4th, Sophia Prassas and Angie Siargos on October 9th; Marianna Damianides on October 11; Nikos Paras on October 21st; and John & Kosta Economou on December 30th. Belated birthdaywishes to Harry Georgakopoulos on August 24th.

Na ta ekatostisete!
Namesday wishes to Dimitri Dallas and Jim Thanopoulos on October 26; Barbara Dallas and Barbara Siargos on December 4; Kathy Tomaras on November 25th; Nicole Alexopoulos, Niko Paras, Niki Rigas, and Nicholas Vass on December 6th; and Christina Economou, Christina Kakavas, Christina Minakakis, Christina Pagones and Christina Rigas on December 25th. Chronia Polla!
bd05219_.wmf (10262 bytes)Congratulations to Sophia Tsipianitis on her new job as a math teacher at Barrington High School. Good Luck!
Orpheus would like to wish member Elizabeth Rossmiller good luck as she pursues her degree in international education at Harvard University. As part of an icebreaker, the students had 5 minutes to teach a new skill to a peer, so Elizabeth gave her partner a crash-course in the Kalamatianos! Keep spreading the Greek folk dance spirit, Elizabeth, and we look forward to your return!
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Last revised:
08/18/2015 07:02 PM