Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter
Winter 2003
Previous issues of Lyra
See the PDF version (400K)
April Concert Presents Easter Traditions
Easter Dances
Yasoo! 2002 Dance Conference, Seattle
Orpheus Youth Update
Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer

April Concert Presents 
Easter Traditions 
Tsiamoulis EnsembleThe date for the Festival of Greek Music and Dance 2003 is fast approaching! This year's theme will be "Easter Traditions and Customs". Eleven notable folk musicians and singers from Greece will combine their talents along with the Orpheus Dance Troupe to present music, songs, dances and customs associated with the Easter period. Material from various regions of Greece related to the coming of the spring season, the Saturday of Lazarus, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Easter Sunday and the week following Easter will be included in this unique presentation. The audience will be able to experience the variety and depth of Easter customs throughout Greece as it was, and still is, celebrated in villages and rural areas. 

This is the third consecutive year that the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society, in cooperation with SAE of America and other local Greek American organizations, will be hosting the Festival of Greek Music and Dance. We have been encouraged to move forward with these concerts by audiences who have filled our previous concert venues and responded with great enthusiasm and kind words. The success of these presentations is a testament to the dedication, commitment, pride and endless energy a group of young adults has toward the promotion, presentation and preservation of Hellenic Culture. Refer to this edition of the Lyra for more information about the visiting artists who are bringing with them an extraordinary level of talent in folk musical culture. 

The Festival of Greek Music and Dance, "Easter Traditions and Customs", will be held on Saturday, April 5, 2003 at the auditorium of the Christian Heritage Academy, 315 Waukegan in Northfield, Illinois. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children under 18. There will be ample free parking. For tickets and more information please call 847-729-3406 or log onto We hope to see you there! 

Click here to see pictures from the Concert
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Easter Dances
Dances performed at Carnival time are not merely the high point of the seasonal merriment. They also lead to a period of abstention from entertainment that lasts until Easter. In some regions a dance is held at the end of vespers on "Cheese-Eating" Sunday, the last Sunday of Carnival, led by the village priest. As villagers say, "The priest who puts an end to dancing at the beginning of the Lenten period of forty days must be the first to dance on Easter Day."

Lazarines in Macedonia Easter dances commence even before Holy Week to mark the raising from the dead of an ordinary individual, 'Poor Lazarus'. The simple steps and movements are unique to these dances that are performed on 'Lazarus Saturday' and the following day, Palm Sunday. Only young unmarried girls, called Lazarenes, take part in the ceremonial practice of calling upon every household on Lazarus' feast day. Their dance, conforming to age-old canons of strict social conduct, is one of the most conservative in its movements. Moreover, the young age of the participants suggests that they lack the necessary maturity as dancers to give their performance a more creative, collective expression by developing or establishing new patterns of movement, or at least by embellishing the old with innovative display. 

During the course of the house-to-house visits on Lazarus' day, the dance can take two forms. The first form of the dance is performed throughout the village streets since the Lazarenes must visit every house and address it with their song. Although one might expect dancing in village streets would allow a certain freedom of movement, there are limitations. Since the Lazarenes sing as they dance and must maintain a steady rhythm in both their voice and movement for many hours on end, they progress with regular, simple steps. 

Small Lazarines in Macedonia The second and more conventional form of the Lazarenes' performance is the dances they present in the village square. Despite local variations, there are common elements to be observed in the execution of these dances. The simplicity of both the steps and the motion of the dancers characterize the basic movement of the dance. A variation to the straightforward performance of the dances can be seen in the minor improvisations introduced by the lead dancer and the initiatives she takes. In some instances the lead dancer is one and the same throughout the day, in others two girls alternately lead the group, while in yet others each dancer takes her turn in the kavo or lead position. In contrast to the dances performed in the streets with a certain sense of haste, the more ceremonious dance performed in the village square is a slow one that must last long enough to allow the lead dancer to complete a full circle.

In some villages the completion of a full circle of the dance is the sign for the day's festivities to be brought to a close. Elsewhere, on the contrary, it is the signal for more general celebrations to commence, reflecting the view that the raising of Lazarus, referred to as the First Resurrection, foreshadows the Resurrection of Christ. These festivities, in which young unmarried men take part, lead to engagements and marriages, pointing to the idea that the customs associated with the feast day of Lazarus provide a setting for what may be the most important 'bride-market' of the year.

Unlike the Lazarenes' dances, Easter dances embrace the participation of all the village inhabitants. They begin after the church service of the second Resurrection either in the morning or in the afternoon of Easter Sunday and are performed in front of the church or in the village square. The dances are repeated daily, either until Easter Tuesday, the Friday of Easter week (known as the Feast of the Theotokos, The Life-giving Spring), the following Sunday (of Saint Thomas), or up to Pentecost.

Like the dances of Lazarus' feast day, only specific songs are sung by dancers as they perform with simple steps. The positions occupied by participants in the dance and the intricacy of their movements is of particular interest.

The order of the dancers is determined by strict rules that establish the social hierarchy within the village. Thus, the priest most senior in years fills the position of the lead dancer followed by the other clergy. Next come the men of the community, again in order of age. The women either follow according to their seniority, first the eldest, married women and then the younger, and at the end the unmarried girls and children, or they form an independent circle inside or outside that of the men's. The dancers almost always hold each other either arm-in-arm or with the arms cross-linked so as to visually suggest the coherent nature of the fabric of the community. Where there are two concentric circles, from time to time the two groups will smoothly coalesce and form a single circle reflecting the hieratic order of the entire population.

Occasions when the dancers kiss the priests' hands before taking their place in the circle, or start by singing 'Christ is Risen!' during the first dance or by dancing three times around the church draw attention to the religious character of the performance and the sanctity with which the performers regard the dance. 

Kangelaria and kangelefti are typical of the dances performed at Easter time in northern Greece. Arm-in-arm, the dancers sing antiphonally, first the men and then the women. The dancers occupying the first and second positions and taking their cues from the verses of one particular song lead the chain of dancers in a winding and coiling movement which the whole group follows over the dance space; in another dance they have the dancers pass beneath the arch they form with their arms.

A distinct feature of ceremonial Easter dances is the 'duplex' dances occurring in a variety of local forms. Besides the two concentric circles and the single circle composed of separate groups of men and women, the most interesting example of the duplex dance is to be found in the two-tier or 'upper' dance.

According to written or oral sources, duplex dances occur all over Greece and Asia Minor. Despite the small local touches that distinguish and characterize each region, what is common to all duplex dances is their structural similarity and the concurrence of the day, Tuesday of Easter Week, on which they are performed, accompanied by only the appropriate local song, sung acapella. They are danced by an even number of men, the same number forming the upper and lower tiers. It seems to be commonly agreed that the ideal number is twenty in all. Half of these, who must belong to the same social group, for instance, all must be engaged to be married, form a closed circle, the arms of each dancer resting on the shoulders of the men to his left and right. The other half, a similar number of men belonging to another social group such as the married, now climb onto their shoulders with or without help from a man standing in the center of the circle. Once they are aloft, again holding each other by the shoulders, all break into the song traditionally sung in their particular locality, while those of the lower tier move rhythmically in a clockwise direction until the song is finished, at which point the dancing stops to be resumed only after another year has passed.

In regions such as the Greek islands where no festivities mark the day that Lazarus is commemorated, it is unmarried girls who open the dancing on Easter Sunday. They dance and sing acapella, in particular specific Easter songs such as "Just Like Easter Sunday" sung in Kastelorizo, and "Saint George" in Skiathos. It is the same with the women's trata dances performed in Salamis and at Megara on Easter Tuesday.

To summarize, what characterizes Easter dances is their interrelationship and the combination of dances and songs particular to the day, their performance unaccompanied by instrumental music, and the simplicity of the steps, allowing the dancers to give all their attention to the words of the songs, which often determine the pattern of the movement. 
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Yasoo! 2002
Dance Conference, Seattle
by Spiros Spirou

Waiting at the airport is probably one of the most boring aspects of modern life. Yet it was well worth it, not only because I was waiting for friends that I had not seen in several months, but because the trip would bring us to Seattle for a dance conference.

Orpheus members with the dance conference instructors The conference, the fourth annual Seattle Yasoo! Dance Conference sponsored by the Greek Orthodox Folk Dance Festival, was held from Friday to Sunday, October 18-20, 2002. This year it featured Demétri Matzouráto from Cephallonia and Achilléa Tsiára from Melíki in Imathía. Demetris taught dances from the Ionian islands, or Eptánissa, and Achilleas covered dances from Roumloúki, the plains in Imathia west of Thessaloniki.

The conference began on Friday evening with a directors' discussion workshop. After the introductions and a brief description of each group, the discussion quickly turned to the all-too-familiar issues of where find high-quality music, instructional videos and other material, how to raise funds for purchasing costumes and participating in conferences, how to get more people, especially the younger kids, interested in Greek folk dancing etc. Nevertheless, it was quite interesting to hear about the approaches taken by different groups and the solutions they had found. Regarding costumes, in particular, it was impressive to hear groups describe how they made their own, paying attention to the often-overlooked but very important issues of fabric, colors, weight and feel etc.

As one might expect, the discussion lasted well beyond its allotted time, and it probably would have gone on for much longer if the organizers had not ended it. Everyone then headed for Porta, a local Greek restaurant with live music. Porta was fairly busy when we got there and, with the addition of several dozen more Greeks, it became really packed. Some managed to squeeze themselves onto the dance floor while others hung out at the bar or even outside.

On Saturday morning a rich breakfast awaited us at the hall in the church of St. Demetrius, where the workshops were held. "Eat well. You are going to need it," somebody told me and, as it turned out, she was quite right. The workshops, which run all day save for a lunch break, were tiring, if not exhausting. But they were fun, informative and quite enjoyable.

Both instructors had done a lot of research and were very knowledgeable about their respective regions, so it was quite a pleasure to have them teach. Although there was a lot of material to cover, they took great care in explaining the differences in style and steps among different villages as well as the subtle nuances of dance.

Demetris sung a few songs from the Ionian islands in order to illustrate the western influence (during the Turkish occupation and beyond, the British, the French and the Italians took turns occupying the islands), as well as the similarities and differences with the songs of mainland Greece. He also described the chance circumstances in which he discovered a dance from Cephallonia that was no longer danced and was thought to be lost.

Costume from Roumlouki Achilleas delivered a fascinating slide presentation of old photographs from Roumlouki. In addition, with the aid of a volunteer who was being dressed, he gave a meticulous demonstration of the women's costume of Roumlouki, paying particular attention to its characteristic headpiece.

Pangeo music ensembleOn Saturday night, the church hall became the site for a glendi, with music provided by Pangéo. The Seattle-based band consisted of Christos Govetas (clarinet, zournas, floghera and vocals), Ruth Hunter (accordion and vocals), David Bilides (toumbeleki), Sandra Dean (violin), and David Bartley (guitar). George Chittenden (gaida and zournas) and Dan Auvil (daouli) were also present. It is an understatement to say that these are great musicians who can play in an authentic way. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that these musicians would be considered great even if they lived in Greece and were judged against their village counterparts.

It is hard to put in words the excitement and the kefi that was on the dance floor. As one song followed another - island, Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace, Roumeli etc. - all the fatigue from the day's workshops suddenly vanished and a new burst of energy filled everyone. For the better part of the glendi there were so many people on the dance floor that two or three circles formed. As the glendi moved on, the microphones gave way to the zourna, the gaida and the daouli as they enveloped the dancers with their primordial sound.

The conference ended on Sunday evening with a barbecue that was provided by Maria Barbas and her family. This was the time to wind down, relax and spend some social time with friends from all over the country, as well as Canada. I, personally, believe that this complements and is as important as the workshops themselves, as Greek folk dancing is first and foremost a social event. The getting together and socializing leads to the parea, which leads to the kefi, which leads to the singing and dancing.

Putting together a dance conference may sound easy - find a place, bring instructors and that's all - but as anyone who has ever attempted it knows quite well, it is far from easy. The group in Seattle - Steve Teodosiadis, Carrie Theodorou, Alexandra Maroussis, Voula Kolios, Yvonne Hunt, Maria Barbas and others who helped in one way or another - did a wonderful job and deserve our thanks and congratulations. I am sure they have already started planning next year's conference, and I am confident it will be just as great.

More information on the Yasoo! conferences can be found at:

Orpheus Youth Update

What a year so far for the youth group! We now have over 60 kids registered in our program, 25 of which are new members. After spending a few weeks getting acquainted with our new groups, we began preparation for the Museum of Science and Industry performance in October. The performance, which included four dance selections from both instruction levels as well as a song, took place on Saturday, December 21st in front of an audience of well over 200 people! The youth did a fantastic job and exited the stage to a roomful of clapping, whistles and cheers from all the parents, friends and family in attendance.

Four of our youth members attended a recent dance conference held in Atlanta. Our youth participated in all workshops as well as the social activities. "It's like dance boot camp," said Christina Minakakis. Despite blisters and sore feet, the kids did an incredible job and had a rare chance to be taught by instructors George Kotsos and Nancy Harmanta.

Speaking of Nancy and George, our friends from Greece took over the lessons in Chicago the week after Atlanta and taught our youth a few of the basics of dance. Instead of steps and variations, George and Nancy emphasized ways to improve expression, feel the music, and ultimately have a more enjoyable dance experience. It certainly was a sight to see and we hope that our kids will have more chances like this in the future!

We've already started preparing for the upcoming April 5th concert. We know that the youth will be an integral part in the event this year as we explore the theme of Easter celebrations and the coming of spring. We hope that you are looking forward to this year's production as much as we are excited to host this event!

See you at the concert!

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Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer...
Stefanie Lialios

Glenview, Illinois

Parents/Family From:

My father is from Ioannina, Epirus and my mother's
family is from Asia Minor


I am a sophomore at Elmhurst College studying to become an
elementary teacher.

Time Dancing with Orpheus Group:

I have been apart of Orpheus Dance Troop for a year now this January and I am loving every minute of it!

Thoughts on Dancing:

I think that dancing brings out a certain feeling in all of us. It reminds of our Greek heritage; our roots. When I am Greek dancing, I feel so happy and energetic. These feelings stem from every part of the dance being danced; from the drums to the clarinet down to the step. It is truly a great feeling. I know that looking back on this great opportunity and experience, I will be thankful that I was able to learn traditional Greek dances! This is something I will be able to carry with me all my life.

Favorite Dance:

My favorite dance would have to be all of them. I love learning them and they are all so unique that it would be unfair to pick just one!!!

Most Vivid OHFS Memory:

My most vivid OHFS memory would have to be performing for the very first time at Holy Cross. Being all dressed up in costume, dancing and being with new friends made it all a wonderful and unforgettable experience. 

Favorite Greek Dish:

My favorite Greek dish would have to be Oktapothi sti skara (grilled octopus) It's soooo good!!!!

Favorite Place in Greece:

My favorite place in Greece is called Ormylia which is near Thessaloniki.

Hobbies/Sports/Other Interests:

Some of my hobbies include of course dancing, Byzantine Chanting, singing, reading, being active at my church, learning about my faith, traveling, cooking, and helping others.

Nobody knows I:

that I know sign language.

Best childhood memory:

My best childhood memory would have to be Christmas.
I will always remember how we would (and still do) decorate our house with lights and fill it with wonderful Christmas music. Then, on Christmas Eve, we would all go to church, and afterward we would have a huge dinner at our home. My cousins came and we would get to open one present each! Then we would go to bed excited for Santa with sugar plum fairies dancing in our head!!! 

Dream vacation/the perfect weekend:

My dream vacation would have to be a trip to Disney World. There is so much to do and see there, that one could never get bored!

Someone I'd like to meet:

One person that I would love to meet would be Panagia. She is so sweet and pure and is truly an inspiration to all women of all ages.

Favorite building/spot in Chicago:

My favorite spot is Chicago would have to be Greek town. I have so many fond memories of going there to the different restaurants with both my family and my friends.

I'm currently looking for/forward to:

I am currently looking forward to graduating college and becoming a teacher. I still have two more years to go, but I am enjoying every minute of it and I am trying to learn as much as I can.

Prized possession:

One of my prized possessions that I own is my cross that I have from when I was baptized, given to me by my nouna (godmother). 

Where I heard about Orpheus Dance Troupe:

I heard about Orpheus Dance Troop from my sister Joanna. With out her telling me about it, I don't think I would have joined. I thank her for telling me to join, because dance has become something that I look forward to going to each week.

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Welcome aboard new Orpheus members 
Youth Group: Zaharias Demertzis, Apostolis Demos, Socratis Kokoris

Adult group: Diana Dokos, Kathryn Futris, Voula Gianakopoulos, Stavrouls Partalis and Thomas (Thanasi) Theodoropoulos.

Congratulations to youth members Angelakos Constantinos, Angelakos Spiros, Arvanitis John, Benzinger Alexander, Demertzis Zaharias, Dolomas Maria, Florakos Eleni, Karahalios Alexander, Karahalios Dean, Karras Dean, Kazamias Dean, Kokoris Socratis, Leberis Connie, Michelis Christos, Psomas Michael, Philis Marino, Savalis Anna-Maria, Theodorakis Alexia for their first performance with Orpheus at the Museum of Science and Industry. 

Congratulations to adult members Anna Colis, Joanna Lialios, Georgia Makris, Jenny Melahoures, Vicky Melahouris for their first performance with Orpheus at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Congratulations to Orpheus instructor Yannis Economou, who was invited to be a judge-in-training at the Folk Dance Festival (FDF) that will take place in Anaheim, California. The Festival will feature over 80 Greek Folk Dance Groups, which would be competing in the categories of dance, costumes and song. The FDF was established more than 25 years ago and is sponsored by the Greek Orthodox Diocese of San Francisco. It is considered the largest event in North America involving Greek folk dance performances.
Congratulations and good luck to Orpheus members Anna Colis, Dimitri Dallas, Chistos Karahalios, George Karahalios, , Joanna Lialios, Renee Papageorgiou, Genevieve Theodorakis that will be part at this year's Variety Show at Glenbrook South High School. They will perform the dance "Pentozalis" in traditional Greek costumes. Orpheus instructor and Glenbrook South Biology teacher Marianna Gudmauddson is their advisor.
Birthday greetings to Anna Colis on January 1, Vasilika Karapataki on January 5, Socratis Kokoris on January 18, Eliza Roussis and Antoni Giannopoulos on January 19, Nick Livaditis on January 24, Christos Tsekos on January 29, Spiros Angelakos on January 30, Elaine Leberis on January 31, Peter Papageorgiou on February 4, Anthi Georgakopoulos on February 6, Paul Demos and Sofia Sianis on February 10, Sophia Tsipianitis on February 15, Theresa Karras on February 26, Pamela Economos on March 13, Bia Adams on March 19, Evridiki Markoulatos on March 24, Constantinos Angelakos on March 28. 

Na ta ekatostisete!

Nameday greetings to Vasiliki Frigas, Bessie Grosso, Vicky Karabelas, Vicky Karahalios, Vasiliki Karapataki, Vicky Kazamias and Vicky Tsangos on January 1, Fani Daskalakis on January 6, John Arvanitis, Joanna Chiotis, Gianni Economou, Joanna Lialios, John Revis, and John Simeonides on January 7, Antonis Giannopoulos January 17, Evan Adams, Vaggelis Giorgas and Evangelos Kaldis on March 25.

Chronia Polla!
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Last revised:
01/06/2013 12:40 PM