Lyra - Orpheus Newsletter                                     

September/October 1997 Edition


Orpheus Launches Web Page
     Orpheus joins cyberspace with the launch of its very own Web page!!  Viewers can look up Orpheus on www.ohfs.org for the latest information on when and where to catch Orpheus performances, history and pictures of the group - and much more!

     The Web page was conceived, created and written by members of the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society, and designed by Orpheus member Sherry Dagrizikos.  Orpheus hopes the Web page will serve as an educational tool as well as a fun site to visit for information on Greek folk dance - for millions of viewers all around the world!

     Enter the online world of Greek folk dance by clicking on various icons for interesting information on the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society and dance troupe; take a look at the extensive Orpheus dance repertoire as well as color pictures of the Orpheus costume collection

     Browse through the current issue of the Orpheus newsletter, Lyra, as well as back issues from the past year.  Each newsletter features a special educational article focusing on topics such as regional folk dances, musical instruments, costumes and more!  Click on another icon to find out about upcoming Orpheus performances and new projects in the works!

     Highlights of Orpheus performances are presented with accompanying photographs, and a very special icon will take viewers to the Orpheus performance at the Opening Ceremonies of the 1994 World Cup of Soccer!  Under construction is also a live video clip from that event which will be available shortly.

     Read about Orpheus' recent visit to Thessaloniki, Greece and how to buy official Orpheus T-shirts and sweatshirts.  You'll even find links to other sites for more information on Greece and Greek folk dance.  In addition, you can send your comments or questions to the site via e-mail at orpheus@ohfs.org -- Orpheus would like to hear from you!

     The creation of the Orpheus web page is an important milestone in the organization's development and growth. The web page will not only expose the Society to a worldwide audience, but will provide the opportunity for further research and communication within the Greek folklore family.

     Orpheus is very excited to be online with its new Web page - and encourages everyone to visit us at www.ohfs.org!

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Orpheus Performs At The Acropolis

The Orpheus Dance Troupe is making its second sojourn to Greece this year!  Orpheus has been invited to represent the United States at the First Festival of Greek Artists Abroad on September 22 and 23 in this year's annual Athens Festival.  This particular performance is organized for the first time by the International Greek Music & Culture Cooperative Center, a non-profit organization based in Athens.  The Festival takes place every summer at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus Theater located at the foot of the Acropolis. Orpheus is sending two of its veteran dancers, Alexander Kapotas and Christina Pagones, who will perform as part of the Global Greek Dance Troupe.

     A total of ten international Greek folk dance troupes have been 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.  The dancers include folk troupe members from the United States, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, England, Russia, Cyprus and Italy.

     The group of  20 international dancers will participate in a series of dance workshops taught by Stelios Melekos, a well known dance instructor from Greece, who will coordinate all the dancers to dance as a whole group.  Mr. Stelios Elliniadis, the production manager of this event states that "Today, after a long delay, there is at last in Greece a real concern about Greek communities abroad and attention is concentrated on these people who are scattered to every corner of the earth; who resist alienation through being creative and have managed to keep their identity out of a deep inner need and a deep historical awareness."  Apart from the dance presentation the program includes performances from musical groups, singers and various artists.

     The Athens Festival is a member of the European Festival Association (A.E.F.).  Among the acts included on this summer's schedule are: the Royal Winnipeg Ballet of Canada, the Ballet Nacional de Espana, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Japanese Dance Theater Sankai Juku, Julio Bocca - Ballet Argentino and many others. The Athens Festival has become more familiar to American audiences through Yannis' "Live At The Acropolis" concert which has been repeatedly broadcast on PBS stations throughout the country.

     The Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society is honored to be part of this historic event and prestigious festival.  Best of luck to Alex and Christina...

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Holy Trinity Celebrates 100th Anniversary
      On Saturday, October 11, Orpheus is set to perform at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Centennial Celebration at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare.  Holy Trinity is commemorating this historical event with a grand banquet in the hotel's International Ballroom.  This event is indeed special, as the Church is celebrating 100 years of continued ministry and service to the Greek Orthodox community in Chicago.

      The celebration banquet and dance is just one special event taking place to mark the centennial of the Church.  Other events scheduled to commemorate the centennial include an upcoming ceremony at the University of Illinois/Chicago-Plaque Installation,  a Senior Citizens Luncheon, an Interview and Lecture Series with Professor Fotios Litsas and a Socrates School Theatrical Presentation.

      Socrates School, founded at Holy Trinity in 1907, was the first Greek school established outside of Greece.   In 1917, the school was expanded into the Socrates Greek-American school, and has since prepared thousands of Greek-American students for successful professional careers in every field.

     Orpheus looks forward to participating in Holy Trinity's Centennial Celebration, and wishes the Church and its members good luck in the next hundred years of service to the Greek Orthodox community!

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Orpheus Comes Home From Greece   [Click Here To See Pictures From The Trip To Thessaloniki]

The Summer of ‘97 was an important one in the history of the Orpheus Dance Troupe, as it marked the first time the troupe performed in Greece. The Troupe participated in the 51st Pan-Macedonian Convention of U.S. and Canada. The host city, Thessaloniki, had been awarded the distinction of being the "Cultural Capital of Europe" for 1997.

     After much preparation and anticipation, on Saturday July 19, the majority of the members of the Orpheus Dance Troupe boarded the early morning train from Athens en route to Thessaloniki.

      In Thessaloniki, the troupe stayed at the American Farm School along with other youth representatives from the U.S. and Canada.  That night, the Mayor of Thessaloniki hosted a reception at  Alsos for all the participants at the convention.  A band and dance troupe from the city of Thessaloniki entertained the guests, and members of the Orpheus Dance Troupe had a chance to "warm up" for their upcoming performances.
 The next day, Sunday, after a morning visit to the St. Demetrios Church of Thessaloniki, most of the members opted to stroll around the city or go to the beach.  The afternoon program included one of our most anticipated events, a visit to the newly constructed Museum of Byzantine Culture.  The museum  serves as a center for the preservation, research and study of the evidence of Byzantine civilization surviving in the Macedonian region,  particularly in Thessaloniki,  the city which was the most important center, next to Constantinople, in the European region of the Byzantine Empire.  For the first time ever, the museum is host to the monumental and unique exhibition of Treasures of Mount Athos which may prove to be the most important social, scientific and cultural event in 1997.  By bringing a part of this  extraordinary living monument of Eastern Orthodox monasticism to Thessaloniki, Greeks, both at home and abroad, especially the female public who is prohibited from visiting the Holy Mountain, and Orthodox Christians everywhere, are given the unique opportunity to experience the past, present, and future of an unprecedented event in our cultural and religious life.
     The evening was spent at the Governor's mansion where the minister of Macedonia and Thrace hosted a reception.  Everyone had a chance to enjoy the nice weather and food.  The treat of the evening was an impromptu performance by a dance troupe "from down under", Melbourne, Australia.  Orpheus Dance Troupe members got acquainted with our friends from Australia and were  amazed not only by their  dancing talent,  but by their accents as well.

      The next day we visited the Boutari winery in the beautiful city of Naoussa which included a tour of the facilities, the  tasting of various local wines  and  lunch.  After a quick stop at Agios Nicholaos resort, we headed for Katerini, an hour south of Thessaloniki, where we visited the construction site of the Alexander the Great Monument and the archeological site of Dion at Mount Olympus.  Later that night, the troupe had the chance to inaugurate its first performance at Dion Hotel in the port city of Litochoro.  The Orpheus Dance Troupe was joined by two other local dance troupes along with our friends from Melbourne, Australia.  Despite the long day and a mad rush to get ready, a very enthusiastic presentation by the Orpheus Dance Troupe ensued.

      The next day we had a chance to visit the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki and view the treasures discovered at the city of Vergina, the ancient royal burial site of the Macedonian ancestry.  The day also included a historical tour of the city of Thessaloniki and a tour of St. Demetrios Church.  The same night, the Orpheus dance troupe performed at the American Farm School.  A combined group of dancers from Boston, New York and Philadelphia also performed.  It was a very special and enjoyable performance as Vaggelis Zartaloudis, a past member of Orpheus who now resides in Greece, joined Orpheus in its presentation.  Also present in the audience were the relatives of several members of the troupe who had traveled a long way to be part of this memorable experience.

      The next day was spent in Halkidiki, visiting first the cave at Petralona and then the YMCA camp at Agios Nicholaos.  It was a day to relax and swim under a beautiful sunny sky.  Later that night, Orpheus participated in its final performance at the convention's concluding reception which took place at the Macedonian Palace Hotel. The reception took longer than expected(what else is new?) and the dancing did not begin until approximately 2:00 a.m.!  Despite the late start, the dancers rose to the occasion and made their last appearance in Greece a memorable one!  The Mayor of Thessaloniki along with the Minister of Macedonia and Thrace were also present at the event.

     The next two days were spent enjoying the city of Thessaloniki, catching up on much needed sleep and even more needed laundry, and relaxing at the pool at the Macedonian Palace Hotel.

     On Saturday, the last day of the convention, we visited Vergina where the tomb of Phillip the Second, father of Alexander the Great,  was discovered along with other royal Macedonian tombs. The contents of the tombs are extraordinary, the most glorious treasures with which any Greek was ever buried. The tombs themselves were finely decorated and made of marble.

       The day long trip concluded with a visit to the Agios Nicholaos resort in Naoussa where the visitors were treated to a wonderful lunch and, to everybody's delight, two local dance troupes performed  traditional folk dances.


This marked the end of the 9-day trip to Thessaloniki.  It provided a unique opportunity for members of the Orpheus Dance Troupe to perform in Greece and proudly represent the Greek-American community of Chicago.  Aside from dancing, participants had the chance to visit numerous ancient, religious and cultural sites and relive the glorious past and modern history of the northern part of Greece, Macedonia.

     The trip to Thessaloniki was a remarkable success; it is certain this experience for the participating members was a unique one and the bond that developed among them will have a special place in their hearts.

      "I was proud to represent our troupe and our homeland. All I have...are the memories and good times, which [will] last a lifetime.  Thank you Orpheus!"
       -- Niki Tottas
      "When it was first announced we were invited to perform in Greece, I [thought] that would only be a dream...I had a great time and I am glad I was given the opportunity to go..."
       --Sophia Prassas
      "The biggest impression on me from the trip to Thessaloniki was going out dancing almost every night with the troupe members, and just having fun!
        --Kathy Tomaras


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Greece:  Before The Trip

 The trip to Thessaloniki was not the only event that took place during our travel to Greece.  Orpheus members, Nikos Paraskevopoulos, Kostas Economou and Christina Damianides visited the pine-covered Philopappou Hill, opposite the Acropolis, where the Dora Stratou company performed traditional Greek folk dances. It was a chance to meet and get re-acquainted with the directors of the company, George and Eleni Mavropoulos.  Members of the Orpheus Dance Troupe had the chance to previously meet the directors during the "Threads of Tradition" exhibit at the Hellenic Museum in Chicago which presented folk costumes from the Dora Stratou costume collection in March of 1994.  Also, George and Eleni returned to Chicago the same year for the Panegyri ‘94 dance conference.

      The next day Orpheus members, Kostas Economou and Christina Damianides, visited the offices of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women in Athens.  There they had a chance to visit the folk museum of the Lyceum where the theme of the current exhibit was the Karagouna Costume(female costume from the area of Thessaly, Central Greece).  Later, Kostas and Christina met with the Director of the Lyceum, Lefteris Dandrakis and Assistant Director Nancy Harmanda.  Lefteris Dandrakis remarked that he had been very impressed with the performances he saw during his visit to the Folk Dance Festival(FDF) in California, last February. He pointed out that the quality of the presentations equaled and , in some cases, surpassed those he had seen in  Greece.  Nancy was kind enough to provide Orpheus with notes, programs and books from past conferences sponsored by the Lyceum and was delighted to see us and rekindle the fond memories she had with the Orpheus Dance Troupe during past dance conferences in Montreal, New York and St. Louis.

     Later that night Kostas and Christina met up with  past Orpheus members Harry Kisseoglou, Takis Karamoutsos and Kostas Pischos who now reside in Athens, Greece.  It was a chance to recall our old adventures with the dance troupe and catch up with the latest news.  Each past member was given an Orpheus T-shirt as a token of appreciation and everybody was happy to hear about the progress the troupe has made over the past few years.

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Patriarchal Youth And Young Adult Festival
     The Orthodox community of Chicagoland is gearing up to welcome His All Holiness Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW to Chicago from November 1st through the 3rd.  Many special and exciting events have been planned for this period.
One of the events scheduled is the Patriarchal Youth and Young Adult Festival which will take place on Saturday, November 1, at Navy Pier in Chicago starting at 1:00 p.m.  The event is hosted by the Diocese of Chicago Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministries and is open to all young people, young adults and the "young at heart" of the Eastern Orthodox faith.

     Among the event's highlights will be a half hour presentation of traditional folk dances from various ethnic dance troupes.  The Orpheus Dance Troupe is delighted and honored to be among the troupes invited to participate in the festivities.
At the conclusion of the dance presentation all participating dance troupes, off and on the stage, will join hands with the audience to perform the Kalamatiano dance in what is anticipated to be the "largest KALAMATIANO" line ever formed.
Other Festival highlights include a live Christian rock band, various Christian performers, a video presentation on the History of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Video/Slide presentations on Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW and Past-Patriarchs.  Following the Festival, a Pan-Orthodox Doxology will take place officiated by His All Holiness Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW.

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Personal Announcements

  •   Orpheus welcomes Kathy Parhas, Christina Regas and Ruben Andreas Lopezdeheon who joined the troupe in July. 

      Congratulations to Andy & Mary Pagones on the baptism of their son, Elias Andrew. 

      Congratulations to Magdalene Pipiros, Kathy Parhas, Polytime Vellos and Melpo Katsaros on their first performance with Orpheus. 

      Good luck to Peter Panagakis, Sophia Sianis and Anthi Georgakopoulos who are starting college this fall. 

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    Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer...

    Alexander Kapotas

    Belvidere, IL


    Read also Alex's top 10 moments celebrating 10 years with Orpheus (2005)

    Family From:
    Dad:  A small village called Agios Vasilios in northwestern Peleponnese, Greece.
    Mom:  A small town called Charleston in the southwestern "boot heel" section of Missouri, USA.
    Years Dancing
    With Orpheus:
    Since 1995 
    Thoughts on Dancing:
    It is a way of preserving a heritage that could so easily slip away from its people.  Orpheus does an excellent job of preserving its beauty and authenticity, and it's wonderful to see so much enthusiastic support from its members and benefactors!
    Favorite Dance:
    The island styles.  They're more expressive, colorful and much easier on the knees...

    Most Vivid Orpheus Memory:

    The day I walked into practice and could tell Yiannis and Kostas [Orpheus instructors] apart.
    Where I Heard
    About Orpheus:
    [Fellow Orpheus member] Joan Kakos.


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