Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter
Fall 2002
Previous issues of Lyra
See the PDF version (820K)
Festival of Greek Music and Dance 2003:
 Easter Traditions and Customs
Youth Group Update
A Traditional Village Wedding
Orpheus Dances Greek on the Oprah Show!
International House - Celebrating Seventy Years
Spotlight on Orpheus Youth Dancer

Festival of Greek Music and Dance 2003: 
Easter Traditions and Customs
The Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society proudly presents the “Festival of Greek Music & Dance 2003”! This will be the third year in a row that OHFS will present a concert in Chicago featuring renowned folk singers and musicians from Greece. Next year’s event will take place on Saturday, April 5, 2003, at the auditorium of the Christian Heritage Center in Northfield. 
Audiences have responded with great enthusiasm following the previous concerts that featured dances and songs from the regions of Macedonia, Thrace and the Greek Islands. 

The material to be presented at the upcoming festival will offer a unique perspective on traditions and customs of the Easter period from various regions of Greece. There is an abundance of folk dances, songs and traditions prior to, during and after the Easter period. The Orpheus Dance Troupe, with the help of the visiting artists, hopes to bring these traditions to life during this event.

Kiriakos Gouventas with Nikos FillipidesKyriakos Gouventas, an exceptional violin player, will be returning to Chicago for the 2003 Festival of Greek Music and Dance. He participated during the 2001 Festival accompanying Chronis Aidonidis. Kyriakos was born in 1966 in Thessaloniki, where he studied music theory and violin at the Conservatory of Northern Greece. Since 1980 he has collaborated actively with a wide range of musicians and orchestras in Greece and abroad, in performances of folk music, rebetika, and of popular as well as classical music, and he teaches violin in the Department of Traditional Music at the University of Epirus. He has played in over 1000 performances and at least 600 recording in Greece and abroad.

The Orpheus Dance Troupe has been preparing for this event for some time and members have been able to research and practice a wide range of material from various areas in Greece. One example is the traditions and songs of the Easter “Lazarines”, women primarily from the northern regions of Greece who sing and dance characteristic folk tunes during the Saturday of Lazaros as well as the next day, Palm Sunday.

So, save the date for the Festival of Greek Music & Dance 2003 on Saturday, April 5, 2003. Tickets and more details will become available soon. Make sure you check our web site at for updated information. 
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Youth Group Update
How did the Orpheus Youth Group spend their summer vacation? At practice, of course! These troopers toughed out the heat of June and July learning new steps and polishing and perfecting the material they learned from the previous year. No region in Greece was spared—we covered mainland dances as well as island, and even some of the “spoon dance” material from Asia Minor.

Summer Youth Session 2002The youth group took a two-week break after the end-of-the-year recital on May 19th and began the 8-week program the first week of June. About 25 youth kids, ages 10-14, joined for the youth session—by far our best enrollment since the summer program began three years ago. Experienced members were joined by new kids who were anxious to learn something new about their culture.

The youth prepared for a special summer performance at the Greek Festival for the Annunciation Cathedral in downtown Chicago last July. About 15 kids braved the evening’s sizzling heat for a lively show that combined island and mainland material. Great job, kids!

Glenview Youth Session 2002-2003The 2002-2003 Orpheus Youth Group began on September 12th, and we are busy preparing material for two target performances—"Christmas Around the World" on Saturday, December 21 and the upcoming concert on April 5th. In addition to a number of dances, the Orpheus Youth Group will be complementing the presentation with a series of children’s folk songs. 

Here’s to a great year!
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A Traditional Village Wedding

It’s not often that one gets the opportunity to attend a traditional wedding in Greece. Luckily for me my sister and fellow Orpheus member, Christina, planned her wedding in the Peloponnese this past September. When Christina and her fiancé Marjan  headed to the hills outside the city of Kalamata to celebrate their nuptials, little did they realize the treasure trove of  traditional customs that our family and neighbors in Kalamata had planned for them!

We rented a house in the small village of Verga overlooking Kalamata and the Messinian Bay. Why Verga you ask? Well, the village’s 400-year-old village church is located steps away and is believed to have a miracle icon of the Virgin. And better yet, from the courtyard there is a stupendous view of the Kalamata valley and the Messinian Bay below. Due to its relative isolation, this mountain area on the edge of Tayegetos Mountain has clung fiercely to its traditional ways. For Christina and Marjan, this was a perfect setting for a romantic and traditional wedding.

At my aunt’s house, which was decorated with white tulle and ribbons, all the women in the family participated in making the boubounieres (wedding favors) a few days before the wedding. These treats of odd numbers of koufeta (sugar coated almonds) were wrapped in handkerchiefs. Making rice and koufeta packets for tossing at the bride and groom were also on the agenda for the night. With the help of some Metaxa brandy my aunts and mother sang songs to celebrate the upcoming happy event.

Koumbaro (Best Man) dancing while the village women sang On the day of the ceremony, koufeta were placed on the tray with the wedding crowns. After the ceremony these koufeta were offered to the single women by the priest to place under their pillows in order to dream of their future husbands. The night before the wedding, Christina was escorted to our aunt’s house in Kalamata to keep her well away from Marjan. On the wedding day, while Christina was busy getting beautiful, back up in Verga, Marjan, his family and friends were experiencing a true 
village celebration. A cousin had arranged for a traditional group of musicians (with laouto, daouli, and klarino in hand) to serenade the groom while he was dressing. On learning of the band’s arrival, several of the older village women arrived at the house to sing a number of songs especially for the groom. This led to an impromptu dancing party with the Koumbaro (Best Man) leading the dances while the village women sang.

With the sun beginning to set and the band loudly playing, an entire house full of guests, family and neighbors led Marjan down the village road to the church where he awaited Christina’s arrival on the steps. When the dark car adorned with dozens of red roses and white tulle pulled up, the band began to play again. An uncle led Christina to Marjan, placed her on his arm and the priest led the entire group into the church.

Unlike in the States, the village churches in Greece do not have pews. This allows for the wedding table to be set right in the middle of the church so that all attending the wedding can crowd around the couple to watch the ceremony. When the priest led Christina and Marjan around the table for the Dance of Isaiah, hundreds of arms tossed koufeta and rice at the couple for good luck. Several times, the priest took refuge behind the bible he held up to his head. After the ceremony, a few rounds of spontaneous dances broke out in the church courtyard since the band was still at hand.

Marjan’s sisters feeding the bride and groom with a spoonful of honey As local Kalamata tradition dictates, Christina and Marjan headed back up the hill to the house so that Marjan’s family could meloso (sweeten) the bride and groom. Marjan’s sisters stopped them at the doorway and bound them together in a white silk scarf; symbolically uniting them in a beautiful but strong bond. Once across the threshold, Marjan’s sisters fed both the bride and groom a spoonful of honey to ensure that their life together will be sweet.

Christina with members of the local dance troupe Next, the couple was instructed to step on a piece of iron to ensure that their union together will be siderenio (strong). Since we couldn’t find a traditional horseshoe, we used a fireplace poker instead! Then, it was off to a nearby local taverna where the wedding guests enjoyed a night of traditional Greek food and music. The trio of musicians who played for Marjan at the house were joined by the rest of the band (bouzouki, santouri, toumbeleki, violin) who played late into the night. Since a cousin dances in a local folk dance group, he arranged for a small performance of traditional dances at the reception. 
Being an enthusiastic Orpheus member, Christina could hardly contain her excitement and jumped up to participate.

Thank you Christina and Marjan for providing us with this unique opportunity. Congratulations!!

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Orpheus Dances Greek
at the Oprah Show!

The Oprah Winfrey Show has been one of the most popular talk shows hosted by probably one of the most recognized personalities of the entertainment industry. 

So when the Orpheus Dance Troupe was asked to participate at the show’s taping, a sense of excitement was in the air. The show was going to feature Nia Vardalos, the writer and main character of the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". This production has now been established as the most successful independent movie production of all time grossing over $180 million after an initial production cost of about $5 million. It debuted in April and its popularity is still growing! During opening day here in Chicago a large contingency of Orpheus members went to see the movie and barely made it inside the theater as most showings were sold out!

The first segment of the taping for the Oprah Show took place at Pegasus restaurant in Chicago’s Greek Town where about 60 of Nia’s relatives and close friends had been assembled to greet her. Among them were her parents who returned from Greece, while on vacation, just to be part of this occasion. Some of Nia’s relatives actually live in the Chicago area. In addition to her relatives, the parents of Rita Wilson, producer of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, were present as well. Rita is of Greek descent and she was the one that helped make the movie a reality as she convinced her husband, actor Tom Hanks, to undertake the production costs.

The Orpheus members were assigned to teach Oprah and Nia some basic Greek Dance steps. They both caught on rather quickly and were having a great time. Later, everyone was bused to Harpo studios for the remainder of the show in front of a regular studio audience. This is the second time that the Orpheus Dance Troupe has worked with Oprah Winfrey. The first time was during the opening ceremonies of the World Cup of Soccer in 1994 at Soldier Fiend where Oprah was the master of ceremonies. 
The Orpheus Dance Troupe was among 24 dance groups that performed that day representing the countries that made the final phase of the this event.

Many congratulations to Nia Vardalos for all the success that her movie has enjoyed and being courageous in pursuing her dream!

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International House
Celebrating Seventy Years

For 70 years, the International House at the University of Chicago has served as both a dynamic program center and residence hall to students from across the globe providing a safe haven and environment where boundaries are crossed, cultural gaps are bridged and people of vastly divergent beliefs learn to accept differences in though and tradition.

The embodiment of intercultural cooperation and understanding, I-House, founded in 1932 through a gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., has an impressive history of embracing multiculturalism through forums, conferences, and the performing arts. The I-House serves as a vehicle to increase international exchange throughout the Midwest-and throughout the world.

Beginning October 4th, in honor of I-House’s 70th anniversary, I-House launched a yearlong calendar of festive and informative events designed to celebrate as well as advance its prominence and visibility with friends, alumni and members of Chicago’s academic and public communities. The anniversary plan is intended to take advantage of the House’s strengths while moving it in new directions that will extend its citywide public profile and institutional identity.

The goal of the anniversary year is to enable International House to continue to expand its links with the University of Chicago and the City of Chicago in ways that are commensurate with its institutional position of promoting cross cultural understandings and respect and the exchange of ideas among people of all nations and backgrounds.

On Friday, October 4th, the Orpheus Dance Troupe had the pleasure of being part of an exciting evening featuring three Bulgarian bands, Kolorit, Balkanci and Izgerv and legendary Bulgarian clarinet virtuoso, Ivo Papazov. Ivo Papazov is the founder of and most influential musician in the svatbardki style – “wedding band style”-which is a fusion of traditional Bulgarian folk, Romany (gypsy), and jazz musical styles characterized by driving rhythms in Balkan meters, fluid improvisations, and dramatic key changes. The Orpheus Dance Troupe presented a suite of dances from Thrace, Northern Greece. Dancing followed the concert accompanied by live music until the morning hours. 

Many thanks to our friends, folklore enthusiasts John and Galia Kuo who helped organize such a splendid event. We hope to have the pleasure of participating in future events that promote cultural diversity and friendship. 

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Spotlight on Orpheus Youth Dancer...
John Revis

Northern Chicago suburbs

Parents/Family From:

My parents were born in Chicago.
My dad’s parents are from Korinthos.
My mom’s parents are from Kalamata


6th grade student at Highcrest Middle School

Time Dancing with Orpheus Group:

One year.

Thoughts on Dancing:

Its fun!

Favorite Dance:

The Cretan Syrto.

Most Vivid OHFS Memory:

My first performance with OHFS at the Museum of Science and Industry, December 2001.

Favorite Greek Dish:

Saganaki and avgolemono (egg-lemon soup).

Favorite Place in Greece:


Hobbies/Sports/Other Interests:

I play the piano and the string bass. I also like to play basketball and baseball.

Where I heard about Orpheus Dance Troupe:

I saw them perform at SS Peter and Paul Greek Church and my yiayia (grandmother) signed me up.

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Welcome aboard new Orpheus members 
Youth Group: 
Angelakos Constantinos, Angelakos Spiros, Arvanitis John, Benzinger Alexander, Bolaris Alcaeos, Dolomas Maria, Florakos Eleni, Karahalios Alexander, Karras Dean, Kazamias Dean, Michelis Christos, Psomas Michael, Philis Marino, Savalis Anna-Maria, Theodorakis Alexia

Adult group: 
Anna Collis, Adams Evan, Apostolopoulos Eleni, Dallas Dimitra, Katsis Paraskevi, Kazeos Danielle, Joanna Lialios, Makris Georgia, Makris Georgia, Matsakis Chris, Melahoures Jenny, Melahoures Vicky, Papageorgiou Renee

Congratulations to Elpida Rallis for her first performance with Orpheus at the Greek Town Festival.
hrtsring.wmf (3440 bytes)Congratulations to Marjan Kodric and Christina Kakavas who were married on September 15th in Kalamata Greece!
Birthday greetings to Katerina Trikkas on October 5th; William Pierce on October 8th; Angie Siargos on October 7th; Christina Dallas on October 10th; Marianna Damianides on October 11; Eleni Poulakis on October 12th; Kostas Dovas on October 24th; Angela Trikkas on October 30th; Joy Economos on November 7th; Jamie Leberis on December 7th; Vaggeli Giorgas on December 9; Dimitri Dallas on December 12th; Georgia Limberopoulos on December 17th; George Kakis on December 18th; Alexis Khosravani on December 25th and Yannis & Kostas Economou on December 30th.

Na ta ekatostisete!

Nameday greetings to Dimitra Bounas, Dimitri Dallas and Jim Thanopoulos on October 26; Angie Siargos on November 8; Katerina Economou, Kathy Tomaras, Kathy Skondos, Kathy Grosso, Katerina Trikkas on November 25th; Barbara Dallas and Barbara Siargos on December 4; Nick Livaditis, Niki Rigas and Nikos Salapatas on December 6th; and Christina Dallas, Christina Economou, Christina Grosso, Christina Kakavas, Christina Minakakis and Christina Pagones on December 25th.

Chronia Polla!
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Last revised:
12/31/2012 02:59 PM