Lyra Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter
   March/April 1997 Edition
New Board of Directors Installed for 1997-99
Folk Customs: Kerchiefs and Scarves in the Greek Region Costumes (Part 2)
First Annual Chicago Winter Break
"Taso & Toula's Wedding"
Personal Announcements
Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer

New Board of Directors Installed for 1997-1999

          Last February, the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society  installed a new Board of Directors for 1997-1999.  According to the Society's by-laws, a new Board is appointed every two years.  The Board of Directors is responsible for conducting the daily operations of the Society and its Dance Troupe.

          All nine members of the previous Board volunteered their services for another term while four new members were added. All are members of the Dance Troupe and it is very encouraging for the future of the organization that they have demonstrated their willingness to contribute their time and talent. The names of the 1997-1999 board members are: Sherry Dagrizikos (secretary), Christina Damianides, Constantine Economou, Elizabeth Economou (treasurer), Yannis Economou (president), Fani Farmakis, Vassiliki Kouchoukos Grosso, Marianne Damianides Gudmundsson (vice president), Christina Kakavas, Vassiliki Kakavas, Joan Kakos, Christine Pagones, and Pat Tomaras.

          The responsibilities and challenges the new board will face are important for the continuation of its mission. One of them will be to maintain a positive learning environment that will continue to make the Orpheus Dance Troupe attractive for young adults to join and commit their time and energy.  The establishment of disciplined and methodic ways of research, instruction and presentation of Greek folk tradition has been appreciated not only by the members of the Dance Troupe but by the public in general as well.  Even though, for most of us, Greek folk dance has been a distant Greek school memory or a limited dinner dance experience, it can definitely be an even more rewarding experience.   The community has enthusiastically endorsed the efforts of the Dance Troupe, but this momentum must be carried beyond that. The Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society's main priority is to educate the community, especially parents, about the benefits and value the Society holds for the development of the next generation of Greek Americans.   Creating opportunities to share the wealth of knowledge the Orpheus Dance Troupe has acquired will also be part of its  efforts.

          The Board members of the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society, along with the members of the Orpheus Dance Troupe, look forward to the challenges and exciting times that lie ahead.

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Folk Customs:  Kerchiefs and Scarves in the Greek Region (Part 2)

          The "stampata" are usually made of cotton material adorned with printed designs.  The printing is done with wooden blocks, which the old craftsmen used to carve themselves. The blocks were immersed in various dyes, made of earthen or vegetable substances.  It was always a craftsman's art, which flourished in areas outside the Greek territorial boundaries of today, in places such as Constantinople, Asia Minor and Cyprus.

          The printed kerchiefs for the "hamam" - the Turkish bath- , were made in the workshops of the Bosphorus, which flourished in the 17-19th centuries.  An interesting study on these workshops is Soula Bozi's book: "Painted Printed Yasma Kerchiefs From the Workshops of the Bosphorus", published by the Goethe Institute of Athens, Panorama.  Within the present Greek territory, the art was practiced mainly by refugees from Asia Minor, such as Themistocles Ioannides and his mother, Anna, who plied their craft at Tyrnavos, in Thessaly.   The "stampata" are used as dress accessories, or to adorn the home, but also in churches.  The most popular were the "tsemberia" (kerchiefs) of coarse cotton gauze, which today are mass-produced industrially.  On the tsemberia are printed the black outlines of the design.  The details and the ground are painted with a brush, or with a fine pencil on which is affixed a bit of sponge.  The most prized among the tsemberia were those made of cotton muslin, imported in older days from Mosul, in Irak.  Today, it is manufactured in England.  In Greece, the Greek manufacturing company, Economopoulos BEM has been producing, since its establishment in 1879, a large variety of women head kerchiefs, in traditional regional designs.  The tsemberi, in the special pattern peculiar to each region, has continued to survive until our day.  Indeed, in the 1950's and 60's, it had become the fashion to use it as material for dresses, skirts and other accessories. A characteristic example is the kerchief called "Rubina's",  which was worn throughout the Peloponnese.  According to information furnished by Mr. D. Economopoulos, the name is derived from that of the artist who printed that particular design, and who, in her day, was one of the finest in her craft.

          The "Maissia" (May)  kerchiefs of the village of Krokos, Kozani, are red, stamped with a pattern of flowers and feathers in black, blue or white.  They are worn with the May costume for the spring festivities of the 1st day of May.  We find these kerchiefs in a greater variety of colors throughout northern Greece, especially in Macedonia, but also on the islands of Chios and Corfu.  They are also called "mandillia me to paonoftera" (kerchiefs with the peacock feathers).  The Vlachs use these kerchiefs to adorn the "flambouro", the wedding banner.  In Episkopi, Naoussa, the bride offers one as a gift to the groom, after decorating it all around the edges with beads and spangles.  In the villages of the Roumlouki, the bride wears it hanging form her waist.  The kerchiefs were famed for the fastness of their red color.  Today, they are reproduced industrially.

         In Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus, women preferred the printed woolen kerchiefs. These flowery woolen kerchiefs were imported from Vienna ("mandilia tis Ivgenas"), from Leipsig (:Lipsianika") and from Constantinople ("Politika").  Of similar style are the enormous shawl-like kerchiefs of Thasos, Rhodes and Karpathos.  Such kerchiefs are still imported today from Hong Kong and, recently, form Russia.  There is also a special black embroidered kerchief, worn in Prosotasani, Drama, called "vlask", which is imported from Romania.

     Sources: Lyceum Club of Greek Women 1995 Calendar, "Kerchiefs and Scarves in Greek Regional   Costume", Athens, 1995.

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First Annual Chicago Winter Break

          On February 6, 1997, The Orpheus Dance Troupe participated  in the kick-off ceremonies of the first annual Chicago Winter Break, a newly-created promotional  event sponsored by the Mayor's Office of Special Events.  Winter Break is planned to be held every year during the first week of February and will include a number of different activities scheduled throughout the city to promote good will, fellowship and Chicago tourism.

          Mayor Daley officially opened this year's  kick-off event at the Chicago Cultural Center to the tunes of a New Orleans-style jazz band, and the festivities included an ethnic folk costume fashion show and reception, which were open to the public.  Also in attendance were many local Counsel Generals as well as representatives from various ethnic organizations.

          Orpheus was invited to represent Greece during the fashion show by donating the use of  the group's various Greek regional costumes. Orpheus Board Members Christina Damianides and Kiki Kakavas were on-hand to help with the backstage preparations and assist the professional models to dress in the multi-piece costumes.  The Orpheus costumes showcased during the fashion show included the Gida from Macedonia; the multi-colored wool Kavakli  and nomadic Sarakatsana, both from Thrace; the heavily-ornamented Karagouna from Thessaly;  the colorful female costume from Corfu; and the traditional male Foustanella of the Greek Honorary Presidential Guard.  Also featured were costumes from Japan, Spain, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, India, Lithuania, Poland, Korea and Ukraine.

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"Taso & Toula's Wedding"

          On Saturday, February 15th, The Orpheus Dance Troupe commanded the attention of the guests attending the reception of "Taso & Toula's Wedding", the Saturday evening event of the 1997 Chicago Diocese Young Adult League Conference.  Over 30 Orpheus dancers  performed a 7-dance mainland suite, providing the entertainment for the Greek-flavored spoof of the long-running local comedy of a similar name.

          Sticking to the night's wedding theme, Orpheus made their entrance with "Tsakonikos", a song which tells of a young maid's plea to her mother to find her the ideal man to marry.  Led with a solo sung by Dr. Stavros Alexopoulos, the group danced and sang the song acappella, and was warmly received by the audience of approximately 500 young adults and clergy.  Other dances showcased were the popular Kalamatianos and Tsamikos, as well as a newly-revamped version of "Dimitroula", performed by the women.

          Also highlighting the evening was the women's performance of another acappella selection, "Trata" from the city of Megara, Attica.  Always seeking opportunities to introduce new material, Orpheus introduced "Trata" and the new "Dimitroula"  from its participation in the 1996 Panegyri Folk Dance Festival in St. Louis.  "It was so nice to see a troupe [Orpheus] perform what was learned at the Panegyri workshops," commented one conference attendee who had attended the St. Louis Panegyri.  "It was very refreshing to see the new dances."

          Orpheus' participation in the 1997 Chicago Diocese YAL Conference follows their past performance at the 1994 Archdiocesan YAL Conference held here in Chicago. The Orpheus Dance Troupe enthusiastically supports the efforts  of YAL, and looks forward to working with them in the future!

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Personal Announcements
Welcome to Barbara Osgood and Melpo Katsaros who joined the troupe in January.
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Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer...

Christina Kakavas
Bridgeview, Illinois

Family From: 
  Kalamata, Greece 
Years Dancing
With Orpheus:
  Since 1994 
Thoughts on Dancing:
  It's a good escape from reality with lots of fun and laughter!
Favorite Dance:
  Maleviziotis [Island of Crete]. 

Most Vivid Orpheus Memory:

  Singing my own words to [the dance of] Souflioutouda and
  making [fellow Orpheus member] Linda laugh!
Where I Heard
About Orpheus:
  My sister, Kiki.

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

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