Orpheus Performs in Athens Festival

"First Festival of Greeks Abroad"
Herod Theatre - Acropolis
Athens, Greece - September 1997

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The Orpheus Dance Troupe made its second appearance in Greece this year!  On September 22nd and 23rd, veteran Orpheus dancers Alexander Kapotas and Christina Pagones represented the United States at the 1st Annual Celebration of Greek Artists Abroad in Athens, Greece.  The show was part of the Festival of Athens, which takes place every summer at the Odeon of Herodus Atticus at the foot of the Acropolis.

     A total of ten international Greek folk dance troupes were selected to send two dancers of Greek descent, one male and one female, to travel to Athens to participate in this exciting new addition to this prestigious festival.  Alexander and Christina joined 18 other dancers from Australia, Mexico, Switzerland, England, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Germany to form the first ever performance of the Global Greek Dance Troupe.  By performing as a group, each dancer not only represented their country of origin, but also symbolized the one bond that each of them shared -- their Hellenic heritage and love of Greek dance.

     "Today, after a long delay, there is at last in Greece a real concern about Greek communities abroad," commented Stelios Elliniades, coordinator of the festival.  "These people have managed to keep their identity out of a deep inner need and a deep historical awareness."

     After the opening remarks, the Global Greek Dance Troupe began the show with two island dances. They entered the theatre with "Ta Xila", a variation of Syrto and continued with the energetic "Patima" from the island of Limnos, in which each dancer left the end of the line with a series of turns across the marble dance floor to make their way to the beginning of the line. 

The female dancers wore a traditional costume from the island of Thassos, complete with a characteristic headpiece consisting of a large floral- patterned red scarf.  The men were dressed in the Cypriot "vraka."

     What followed was a spectacular series of performances, with over 250 performers of Greek descent  sharing the stage of the ancient theatre for two nights of dance, music and song under the illuminated Parthenon.  The show made an incredible effort to gather Greeks from even the most remote areas of the world.  Included in the event were a young group of Pontian dancers from Asia Minor, the nomadic Sarakatsanoi tribe from Bulgaria,  a London-based orchestra and a Ukranian choir whose selections included the church hymns "Ti Ipermaho" and "I Yenisi Sou."  In addition to pieces of Greek heritage, some of the performers presented traditional selections from their country of origin, such as the dance "Tarantela," performed by an Italian dance troupe from Sicily.

    At the conclusion of the show, the Global Greek Dance Troupe entered the theatre once again, dancing and singing the refrains of "Tsakonikos", winding their way to the center of the stage.  On both evenings, the audience rose to its feet and could be heard singing the familiar lyrics along with the dance troupe. A "Kalamatiano" concluded the show, and the audience again participated -- clapping and singing to express their enthusiasm to see a group of ethnic Greek young adults from around the world performing traditional songs and dances from the land of their ancestors.  The men wore the traditional "foustanela" costume, while the women danced in the classic Desfina costume worn in villages of the Fokida region of Greece.

     After exiting the stage, each pair of dancers walked to  the center of the stage and announced their names and their home country to the audience, amid appreciative cheers and applause.  It was a very moving moment for the dancers, who experienced firsthand the excitement of performing in Greece!

Last Revised:
18 Aug 2015 07:46 PM