Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter
Summer 2000

PDF version of newsletter

Previous issues of Lyra
Orpheus Celebrates End of the Year Bash
Orpheus Joins 10th Anniversary of Skokie Festival
The Island of Limnos
Spring Break
Youth Summer Dance Session
Top 10
Hara Deligiannis Returns This Summer
OHFS Mans the Phones Again at Channel 11
Orpheus Returns to Saginaw, Michigan
Spotlight on Orpheus Youth Dancer
Orpheus Celebrates
End of the Year Bash
After a full day of performing at the Skokie Festival of Cultures, the Orpheus family gathered together that evening at the Golden Flame Banquet Hall to continue the festivities into the night with good food, music, and filoxenia! The event was organized by the Orpheus Youth Group parents to celebrate the end of the year and provide an opportunity for all Orpheus members and their families to come together in a relaxed atmosphere and dance, dance, dance! Members of the Youth Group arrived at the hall still dressed in costume from the earlier performance, and excitedly made last minute preparations with their instructors before giving their families a tremendous performance. The group was all smiles as they "showed their stuff" with pride and a great deal of poise and enthusiasm. Amid loud applause and encouraging shouts of "Opa", the boys' rendition of Tsamikos brought down the house. Afterwards, Youth member Tom Mihalopoulos commented, "This was one of our best performances, and it was so much fun to dance for our relatives!" Patricia Minakakis agreed, "I can't believe I'm having so much fun, and we were so relaxed out there - but when can I change out of my costume?" The evening continued with delicious food and sweets provided by the Youth Group families, and then DJ Dino Dallas took over - and the serious dancing began. Once again, the Youth Group dancers took to the floor, and were soon joined by their parents and siblings, as well as members of the senior Orpheus Group, and in no time the floor was rocking with various Syrta and Tsamika. The young dancers requested certain songs and members of the Youth and senior group joined together for Orpheus dances such as Pentozalis and Issios. The dancing continued well into the night, and it was great to see young and old dancers enjoying themselves, and especially to see the youngsters celebrating their dance heritage. Many thanks to Barbara and Dino Dallas, Alexandra Pontikes, the Golden Flame Banquet Hall, and all the participating Orpheus members and families who helped make this evening a huge success.
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Orpheus Joins 10th Anniversary of Skokie Festival of Cultures Celebration
Among the many performances Orpheus schedules throughout the year, there are a few events that have become "staple" shows. One of them is the Skokie Festival of Cultures, which was held this year on May 20-21. The Orpheus Dance Troupe has been participating in the festival for the last nine years and, most notably, last year marked the very first performance of the Orpheus Youth Group at this event. The group's program this year consisted of dances from different regions of Greece and featured performances by the Youth Group followed by the senior dance group. The Youth Group's program consisted of dances from both the islands and mainland Greece and included the Hasapikos and Hasaposervikos, a couple of classic modern dances. After many months of preparation, the kids were very excited with the opportunity to show their family and friends the fruits of their efforts. This year's event was attended by what was probably the biggest audience Orpheus has ever seen at the Skokie Festival!

Following the youth's exit to the upbeat Hasaposervikos, the senior group performed a suite of dances from Thrace, which included new versions of Steis Tries and Mantilatos (a couples dance with handkerchiefs) as well as a springtime-themed version of Zonarathikos. Featured again at this performance were the female Metaxades costumes, which were complemented by the tsourapia, a woolen leg warmer that further authenticates this colorful costume from Thrace.

2000 marks the 10th year of this popular suburban festival, and Orpheus is proud to be part of this fun event throughout the years. We look forward to many, many more! See you all next May!

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Letters - May 31, 2000
bs00580_.wmf (11044 bytes)Dear OHFS:

On behalf of the Skokie Festival of Cultures Planning Committee, I would like to thank you for your wonderful performance at our Tenth Anniversary Skokie Festival of Cultures. With the terrific response and positive feedback we received from our audience, we congratulate you on being a part of such a successful festival that united cultures from one end of the world to the other. It was a pleasure working with you and (we) look forward to future performances!

Best wishes for continued success!

Lauren Caliendo, Cultural Arts Supervisor

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The Island of Limnos
Limnos is the island of fire. According to myth, Hephaestus, the handicapped son of Zeus, was thrown from Mt. Olympus (where the gods resided), landed on Mount Mosichlos and broke his hip. On Mosichlos, Hephaestus built his workshop and started teaching the smith's craft to the Sindies, who are said to have been the first inhabitants of the island. These people took care of Hephaestus after his fall. During the reign of Thoandras, the first king of Limnos, the island was under the state of matriarchy, as the women of Limnos, in order to seek revenge against their husbands for neglecting them, forced them to drink heavily. After getting the men drunk, the women then killed their husbands. After the Argonauts returned from Colchis and took up residence on the island, the men began to rule again. According to Homer, in addition to the Sindians who came from Thrace, the other inhabitants of Limnos - ancient Aithalia - were the Tyrians (8th century BC), who were considered by many scientists as being related to the Etrurians. In the early Byzantine years, the military position of Limnos was at an advantage due to its ideal geographical location in front of the Vosporos straits. Its gulfs were ideal in securing the imperial fleet, and it was the first stop after exiting Hellespont. The Enetians and the Genoese, who succeeded the Byzantines, produced the biggest financial and commercial prosperity the island ever knew. In 1289, it came under the Byzantine rule, and in 1453, Constantine Palaiologos granted it to the Genoese Ioannis Justiniani, in exchange for his help in defending Constantinople. From 1462 onwards Limnos has been the object of quarrels between the Enetians and the Turks, and in 1479, Venice was forced to consign it to the Turks. During the Greek revolution of 1821, Chian ships and fighters participated in various operations under the command of the famous admiral Koundouriotis.

Limnos_map.gif (12452 bytes)But Limnos remained off the map of Greece, like other eastern Aegean islands. It was finally set free in 1912, during the First Balkan War, but the final incorporation to Mother Greece was concluded with the Treaty of 1920. Limnos lies in the center of the Northern Aegean and it is the eighth largest island of Greece. Today, the island's capital, still called Mirina, or Kastro, sits at the back of the bay in exactly the same location as its ancient namesake. A Venetian castle presides over its characteristic captains' houses adorned with wooden balconies. Mirina has an important archaeological museum with finds from the region as well as from Hephaistia, Cabeiria and Poliochne. Representing every period from the prehistoric to the Hellenistic, the artifacts consist primarily of relief works, idols, pottery and sculptures. The city of Mirina also represents a typical example of the traditional architecture of Limnos. It is a blend of old and new buildings made of stone in the neoclassical style with wooden balconies, which give a touch of class to the scenery. Nevertheless, there are traditional settlements on the island as well, such as the one at Kaspakas, with its marvelous roof-houses and narrow pebbled streets. The Lemnians are a people who like feasting at every occasion. Their feasts and festivals take on a special meaning, since they are always filled with joy and merriment when the islanders dance the local island dances. In Nea Koutali, on August 6th, there is a great festival which attracts people from all over Chios. They dance the local dance of Kehagiades or Kehagiadikos, which is the most famous on the island. It is performed by couples, and traces its origin from the old Kehagiades. The Kehagiades of Limnos were the elders or representatives of the village or stewards of large estates. When the government appointed them, they were also responsible for keeping order on the island and collecting taxes. The Kehagiadikos dance is also known as Ballartos. Other local dances from the island of Limnos include the Katsivelikos or Tsompanistos, a dance usually performed with couples facing each other. It consists of turns, squats and clapping of the hands. Patima is another dance mainly performed by men in a circle holding arms. Most likely this dance got its name from the way the dance is performed, i.e. with high intensity patimata (steps). They also dance Ballos, Syrtos, Zeibekikos, Kalamatianos, etc. At weddings, European dances are also popular (waltzes, quadrilles, polkas etc). The dancers, dressed in their traditional white costumes, dance to the sounds of the local popular instrument, which looks like the Cretan lyre and is still being taught today. Other instruments used are the violin, clarinet, santouri (dulcimer) and laouto (lute). On the island of Hephaestus, the inhabitants follow traditions the same way the islanders all over Greece do. Carnival, in particular, has a unique color in Limnos. It is celebrated with traditional feasts and political satire organized by the cultural association "Koinotiki Vivliothiki" at Kaspakas, while islanders build huge fires and burn kakanoures, the large flower wreaths made on May Day. On the island, there are small workshops for classical pottery and woodcarving, which produce beautiful ceramics and wood-carved articles. Finally, of note are the local woven fabrics and embroidery, which are beautiful examples of the traditional folk art of the island.
Source:  Greek National Tourist  Organization, Lyceum of Ellinidon of Athens Booklet, Atlanta Conference, 1996
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Spring Break By:  John Pierce
In March of this year, I went to Greece with our two younger sons and my mother. My son (Youth Group member) William and his brother had never been to Greece and my Cousin Dionysius had written to me and advised that the boys should come to Greece "na cheroun tis rizes tous" (so they could know their roots). I took his advice to heart and we planned the trip during their school's spring break. We visited many places on our 10-week sojourn: Athens, my father's village of Vamvakou (north of Sparta), Mani, Mystra, Methoni, Kalamata and Sparta. The time we spent in Athens was highlighted by the March 25th Independence Day parade. As my cousins had promised, this parade was a unique experience. I'm told there are parades in every town in Greece on March 25th but apparently the parade in Athens is the largest and most spectacular. We arrived early and got a spot right across from the Queen's Gardens about two blocks east of Syntagma Square - right at the parade starting point. The parade itself began with a roar - both literally and figuratively - as about a dozen tanks drove by. These were followed by a group of about 100 marching women soldiers followed by a couple dozen armored personnel carriers followed by about three dozen jeeps each mounting a soldier and an anti-aircraft rocket in back. That was just the beginning. The variety of military equipment which followed was really quite remarkable. Finally, the climax of the parade was the fly-over by the air force. This fly-over was done at rooftop level - which in that part of Athens means about 6 stories above the ground. Sound-barrier-breaking American-made jets, helicopters and French Mirage jets filled the air! These sonic booms really were an impressive finale to an impressive parade. Of course, we did some shopping in Monasteraki; however, we didn't buy much because my wife (our family's best shopper) was not with us. We found a most unusual church a few blocks from Syntagma Square, where there is a skyscraper built mostly on stilts. In the space underneath the skyscraper is a tiny church, which I understand is well over 1,000 years old. Apparently the real estate was too valuable and too close to city center not to build the skyscraper - but the church was too important to demolish. That's why there is a little church with a huge skyscraper (right) on top of it, which holds about two dozen people comfortably. We made a trip to the Acropolis, and the boys had no trouble climbing to the top and sitting on the rock from which St. Paul addressed the Athenians. Over the years, so many visitors have climbed on this rock that it is worn smooth like glass. Another site of note in Athens is the new Syntagma subway station, whose walls are basically an archeological museum. These walls are not covered with cement or any other finish. They have been preserved as they were originally dug up by the construction workers - offering a cutaway view of several thousand years of Greek history. At the bottom of the wall are broken pipes and pottery from the time of Pericles, and in the layer above that are artifacts from the next historical period, and so on... Some of our favorite sites were the castles in Methoni, the Byzantine churches in Mystra (where some of the icons are 1,000 years old), and the area of Mani. The houses in Mani are interesting because each has a tower attached, which provide a perch from which the owner could observe his "enemies". At the Mystra historical site, we took a cab to the top of the mountain, but then walked down, and I was pretty proud that the boys and I were in such good shape - but then we observed an old yiayia walking up the mountain carrying what looked like a five gallon can of olive oil, and instantly, I felt less proud of our climbing abilities.... And how can we forget dancing? One night at a restaurant in the Plaka section of Athens, we were sitting at a table facing the Acropolis, and all of a sudden, Will leaped up and did some Tsamikos jumps. (Maybe he was inspired by the image of the Acropolis, or maybe it was just a burst of nervous energy.) The waiter looked at this with disbelief and then said "Hey ... do that again." Will obliged, and the waiter responded "Very good ..." Apparently having seen it a second time, he finally believed that this foreign tourist really was dancing the Tsamikos. One day we attended a class with Hara Deliyannis in Spata outside of Athens. Hara was most gracious, and we enjoyed visiting her class - but I have to say that to my unschooled eye, the kids in Greece were not discernably better dancers than the Orpheus kids. That's got to be a compliment for the Orpheus instructors. Take a bow, teachers!

Editor's note: John Pierce is the father of William Pierce, a member of the Orpheus Youth Group.

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Youth Summer Dance Session
youthpractice_2000_small.jpgDance practice this summer has already started for the Youth Group! Eight classes will be offered every Saturday afternoon from June 10 - July 29 from 1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. The cost is $60. The location is St. Isaac Jogues Church, 8101 W. Golf Rd. in Niles (1/4 mile east of Milwaukee Ave.). The space being used is part of the Plato Academy, a Greek bilingual school. A special treat this summer will be the instruction of Hara Deligiannis from the Lyceum of Ellinidon of Athens, who will be teaching the Youth Group during the last 4 sessions in July. Hara brings her expert teaching skills to give the Youth authentic instruction direct from Greece. The Orpheus Youth Group is scheduled to perform alongside the adult group at the Evanston Ethnic Art Fair on July 16, it will be a full summer of activity! Come join us! For more information, please contact Youth Group Coordinator Bessie Kouchoukos-Grosso at 773-286-5132 or Yannis Economou at 847-657-0958.
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Top 10 List
bs00554_.wmf (3982 bytes)Top Ten Ways To Tell If You Are An Orpheus Dancer

From the home office in
Moustoukoulouro, Greece
  1. "In your opinion, the zourna is the coolest instrument in the world "
  2. "You have no hang-ups about changing your clothes in closets, coatrooms, buses, etc"
  3. "You find yourself practicing dances with your fingers during idle times in the day"
  4. " is the homepage on your computer"
  5. "You sing Ola Ta Poulakia in the shower, while driving, etc."
  6. "You have a Mihalis Tsouganakis CD/tape"
  7. "You have eaten at Hilltop"
  8. "You find there is so much free time in the week when you miss a Thursday practice"
  9. "You actually know where Anatoliki Roumelia is and how to pronounce it"

    and the number one way to tell you are an Orpheus dancer is...
  1. "You can tell Yiannis and Kostas apart."
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Hara Deligiannis Returns This Summer!
Once again, Orpheus is pleased to welcome Hara Deligiannis as guest instructor this summer. Hara has been a member and instructor with the renowned Lyceum of Ellinidon of Athens for the last twenty years and is currently the director of the Spata chapter. Hara is making her second sojourn to Chicago this July to spend time with the OHFS. This year, she will be teaching both the Orpheus adult and Youth Groups, and we are all excited at the opportunity to learn from her expertise again and expand the OHFS repertoire of dances. Hara's son, Rafael, has been in Chicago for a couple of weeks and has already attended Saturday practices with the Youth Group and performed with Orpheus. A heartfelt thanks to Mrs. Joanne Vadevoulis and La Francaise Bakery for sponsoring Hara's trip to Chicago.
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OHFS Mans the Phones Again
at Channel 11
channel_11_june2000.jpg (65589 bytes)A team of Orpheus members and friends dressed up for a familiar occasion: a pledge drive at the studios of WTTW-TV, Channel 11. The show featured the program "Greek Americans II - Passing the Torch", a documentary that examines the struggles and successes of Greek immigrants and the generations that followed them in the United States. Among the personalities featured were Michael Dukakis, actress Melina Kanakarides, Wendy's restaurant CEO Dave Thomas and many others.

This is the second time that members of the Orpheus Dance Troupe have volunteered their services in manning the phones during a Channel 11 pledge drive. Without a doubt, the presence of the colorful costumes on the set added another dimension and helped to persuade viewers to make that all-important phone call! Indeed, the fundraising effort was a successful one, as the monetary goal for the evening was easily surpassed. As was the case last time when the same documentary was featured, many of the callers were of Greek origin, and in addition to their pledge, they also wanted to purchase a video copy of the documentary to pass it along to their children or grandchildren.

Many thanks to all the participants who offered their telemarketing talents on a Thursday dance practice night. Special thanks to Voula Drougas, an OHFS member and Channel 11 employee, who doubled up as a producer for that night and made sure that everyone felt comfortable and welcome.
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Orpheus Returns to Saginaw, Michigan
The weekend of Father's Day found a team of Orpheus members performing at the St. Demetrios Church Greek Festival in Saginaw, Michigan, a destination more than 300 miles from Chicago. The dancers were met by the local community with a warm and enthusiastic welcome, which helped make the OHFS visit a very pleasant and fun experience. This is the second year in a row that the Orpheus Dance Troupe has performed for the popular three-day festival, which draws several thousand guests every night! This year, the schedule included six performances that featured both mainland and island dance programs with separate sets of costumes. All presentations were received enthusiastically and much praise is due to all participating members for their endurance, good spirit and commitment in putting forward their best effort during this arduous schedule. The weather cooperated fully with sunny skies and cool temperatures that helped bring out the crowds. The festival committee and volunteers have to be commended for their excellent organization and set-up of the festival grounds as well as their tasty homemade food and treats! Apart from the Orpheus Dance Troupe, the church's dance group, consisting of four different groups of children of various ages, provided continuous entertainment, along with a Greek band. As the Orpheus members were departing for the trip home, the local community had already extended an invitation to return for next year's festival! We will make every effort to be there!
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Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer...
William P.
youthspotlight_william.jpg (62898 bytes)
Parents/Family From:

Father: My father grew up here in Chicago. His family came from Vamvakou (near Sparta) and from Methoni and Gargaliani in Messinia.

Mother: My mother is from Minnesota.


5th grade student at Carpenter School in Park Ridge.

Time Dancing with Orpheus Youth Group:

I just finished my 1st year.

Thoughts on Dancing:

I really, really enjoy Greek dancing.  I also really like soccer. They both require some fancy footwork.

Favorite Dance:

Tsamikos because of all the different variations and I especially love to do the flips!

Most Vivid OHFS Memory:

I will never forget doing the slip for the first time at the youth group dinner dance.   I had so much fun dancing with both the youth and the adult Orpheus members.   It was so cool.  It was like we were one big family.

Favorite Greek Dish:

A big plate of Loukaniko and a bowl of Avgolemono soup.  With also a few Diples for dessert.

Favorite Place in Greece:

The castle at Methoni is spectacular!  I'd love to go there again.

Hobbies/Sports/Other Interests:

I like to swim and play soccer. I also like to listen to music, play my trombone, and read fantasy and science fiction books.

Where I heard about Orpheus Dance Troupe:

My Greek School teacher, Bessie Kouchoukos-Grosso, suggested I give Orpheus a try. I'm glad she made that suggestion!

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Orpheus would like to welcome Janine Weiss-Northcutt who joined the adult group and to new summer youth members Christina Dallas, Penny Kokkinias, Chris Kontos, Vanessa Markopoulos, George Soukoulis, George Tselos, and Elianna TselosWelcome!
Congratulations to Eftychia Gouvas and Rafael Pantazis for their first performance with Orpheus.
Balloon3.wmf (14594 bytes)Happy Birthday to George Tselos June 3; Penny Kokkinias June 12; George Soukoulis June 23; Jim Thanopoulos July 3; Kathy Tomaras July 14; Lexia Vadevoulis July 16; Tasso Giannopoulos July 22; Katerina Skondos July 24; Hercules Logothetis July 30; Alexis Arvanitis August 1; Christina Kakavas August 15; Melpo Katsaros August 21; Elianna Tselos August 23; Genevieve Theodorakakis August 25; Maria Karras August 27; Alexander Kapotas September 29. Na ta ekatostisete!
Nameday Greetings to Marianna Damianides, Marianna Kaltsa, Maria Kakleas, Maria Karras, Patty Pappas, Patty Panagakis, Pat Tomaras, and Peter Panagakis on August 15th; Alexander Kapotas on August 30th; Sophia Sianis, Sophia Tsipianitis, and Sophia Prassas on September 17th. Chronia Polla!
Congratulations to Christina Kakavas who landed a new job as a graphic designer at Slack Barshinger & Partners. Good Luck!
Orpheus would like to welcome Barbara Dallas as a new member of the Board of Directors!
Voula Drougas is going to Dublin Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland for a semester of studies towards her Masters in Media and Communications. She will be back in the fall to complete her degree at Northeastern University in Chicago.

Sophia Tsipianitis graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Mathematics Education.

Melpo Katsaros graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Science in Education and will continue her studies on a scholarship at Northern Illinois University for her Masters degree.

Congratulations to Barbara Siargos who was admitted to the University of Illinois Dental School. Barbara has a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Chicago.

Congratulations to Kathy Tomaras for being the recipient of an educational scholarship awarded by the 13th District Order of Ahepa. Kathy will be pursuing a degree in Education at Concordia University where she also received a scholarship

Congratulations and good luck to Elizabeth Rossmiller for her admittance to Harvard University in Boston. Elizabeth will be attending a one year program focusing on education

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Last revised:
08/11/2015 08:00 PM