Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter
Winter 2005
Previous issues of Lyra
Winter Dance Conference, Boca Raton, Florida
Ten Tremendous Years
Guest Voice Instructor Joins Orpheus
Spotlight on Orpheus Youth Dancer

Winter Dance Conference
Boca Raton, Florida
The skies were cloudy. The snow was falling non-stop. Will the flights be on time? Will we be able to fly to Florida for the Winter Dance Conference? These were some of the nagging thoughts that members of Orpheus bound for Florida were contemplating that Thursday morning. But by some miracle the sky cleared, the sun emerged and we were on our way. The weather in Florida was unbelievable. What a contrast to be shoveling snow in the morning and then, later that day, relaxing by the swimming pool under a warm sunny sky.

That first night we met the very hospitable hosts of this year’s conference from the community of St. Mark Greek Orthodox Church in Boca Raton. We also met up with old friends and acquaintances from Tarpon Springs, New York, Atlanta, Boston, St. Louis, and Toronto. 

The next day, Friday, the workshops began in full force. The dance workshops focused on dances from the region of Thrace, the islands of Crete and Kerkira (Corfu), and Kappadokia in Asia Minor. We had a chance to spend some time with the visiting instructors from Greece, Dimitri and Mary Kantas who taught dances from the Ionian Islands and Kyriakos Moisidis who showed dances from Kappadokia. Dr. Mary Coros from Tarpon Springs gave a workshop in Cretan dances and Joe Graziosi from Boston showcased dances from the region of Thrace. 

Winter Dance Conference 2005 - Boca Raton, Florida After a long day of workshops, the majority of the Orpheus members headed directly to the pool to relax, practice some dances in or under the water, and show off our athletic and synchronized swimming abilities. A truly fun time for all!

Winter Dance Conference 2005 - Boca Raton, Florida Later that night it was time to start the dancing. Groups from Rutgers University and West Palm Beach performed and the Orpheus music ensemble provided live entertainment for most of the night. Kudos to Harry, Mitso, Kosta and Christina for a job well done. Orpheus Youth member Paul Grosso also had a chance to thrill us with his Zeibekiko.

Winter Dance Conference 2005 - Boca Raton, Florida Dance workshops resumed on Saturday and a special workshop on Greek folk costumes was presented by Yannis Amarantidis. The anticipation of our dance performance later that night started growing as we were scheduled to perform a suite of dances from the region of Epiros. The renowned folk music band Ziyia was invited to play that night and we had made arrangements for them to accompany our performance. It is always an educational and memorable experience to work with such talented musicians and our practice session with them that afternoon was a real treat. This is the second time that Orpheus had a chance to work with Ziyia, the first one being our performance at the 2003 Winter Dance Conference in Atlanta. 

Winter Dance Conference 2005 - Boca Raton, Florida The hotel ballroom was packed with people eagerly awaiting the night’s festivities. A group from Ottawa, Canada started the dance presentations followed by the local dance group, Syrtaki of Boca Raton who performed a suite of dances from the island of Crete. Orpheus followed with a suite of dances from the region of Epiros. 
Winter Dance Conference 2005 - Boca Raton, Florida The presentation started with two songs, “Yanni Mou To Mantili” and “Kleistos” and concluded with the dances of Zagorisios, Gekas, and Sygathistoi from Metsovo. It was another energetic performance that was enthusiastically received by all in attendance.

Winter Dance Conference 2005 - Boca Raton, Florida The last day of the conference included a liturgy at St. Mark’s and a brunch that was prepared by its members. During the brunch, Kiki Papadimitriou from Atlanta presented a fashion show of regional Greek folk costumes. Orpheus members Paul and Christina Grosso also had a chance to strut the cat walk wearing costumes from the island of Crete. Then it was time to say goodbye to all our friends. Our gratitude goes out to the community of St. Mark of Boca Raton for hosting the conference and especially to Carmen and Jordan Elrod who went out of their way to accommodate us during our stay. Special thanks also to John Lulias whose tireless work and efforts behind the scenes has kept WDC going strong for all these years. See you in Tarpon Springs, Florida for WDC 2006!

Top of Page

Ten Tremendous Years
by Alex Kapotas
Ten Galactically Great Moments of the Last Ten Tremendous Years

In the movie Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones’ character exclaimed that baseball was the one constant in the history of America. As I look back on the last ten years, I guess you could say that Orpheus has been a constant in my life. It was there when I graduated college, drifted in and out of careers, traveled, made friends, and a thousand other experiences that one has in his 20’s. After ten years, Orpheus is still there, and I don’t see it going away.

The experience of first walking into practice was a strange one. I had no idea what I was in for when I entered the old park district field house that cold January night. Strangers would become friends, doors would be opened, lessons would be learned, and, in the process, one darn good time was to be had.

To most of America, Thursday night means a series of must-see television shows. To others, it is one jump away from the weekend. To us, it is a break from the week’s demands where we join hands and celebrate, in our own way, the benefits and joys of friendship, community, and, above all, being Greek.

Now, it’s been a while since an Orpheus Top Ten list has been published, so I think it’s time for a little comic relief as I take you on a trip down the alleyway, the “steno”, of memories that have defined a decade and characterized my career in choreography. Here we go!

Alex K’s Top Ten Defining Orpheus Moments, 1995 - 2005

10. Greek Parade, 2001

Dancing and singing were the only ways we could keep warm during one of the coldest parades in memory. The thermometer was low, but, as usual, the Orpheus spirit was unstoppable, as shown in this photo.

9. Illinois State Fair, 1995

We woke at 5 am and boarded a bus to pick up a Mexican dance troupe on the way to the state fair. I can still hear them singing the Macarena, and Christina Kakavas belting out Dalaras’ “Manouela” in response. After a four-hour trip downstate, we left the climate-controlled bus and were greeted with a terrible blast of thick, sticky heat. The performance took place in the middle of the day, with two costume changes. By far, the best worst experience I’ve ever had in the troupe.

8. Birth of Karagouna Nation, 1998

The “Karagouna Nation” was born through an email brainstorm of theme titles for our 1998 benefit. Patriotism boomed when citizens of the Karagouna Nation (population 3) adopted as its sign one of Hara Deligiannis’ improvised hand movements during her sessions with us earlier that year. 

7. Media Blitz, Summer 2004

Channel 7 ABC Morning News Several television spots featured members of the dance troupe in their broadcasts throughout parts of the city. I learned that a trip to downtown can be made in about 20 minutes at 4 am, the group learned how to tap into the kefi spirit at sunrise, and the world learned from Bessie Grosso that hasapiko is the only Greek dance you need to know, because “it’s really kickin’”.

6. Macedonia Mania, April 2001

Formally known as the “Festival of Greek Music and Dance – Songs of Macedonia and Thrace,” Macedonia Mania was a kamikaze performance where sound checks and rehearsals were still going on while the audience was entering the theater. The show opened with the zournades entering from the rear of the theater, and ended with the brassy sound of Greek music blasting out of tubas, trombones, and trumpets. The crowd rose to its feet during an encore that seemed to last forever. This was our first-ever concert effort, and moved the group in a new and exciting direction.

5. Greek dance haikus, Summer 1997

Girl from island of
big scarves. That fez under there,
isn’t that Turkish?

Cubicle doldrums were swept away with an afternoon whirlwind of email exchanges between myself and fellow Orpheans Christina Kakavas, Kiki Kakavas, and Linda Damianides. This was LOL before there was LOL. I really hope they’re archived on someone’s C: drive. There are more, but they’ll have to remain private. There are some whistles that only dogs hear. There are some jokes that only we get. 

4. Zournades, 1998

The Christos Karakostas Zournal & Daouli Ensemble at practice with the Orpheus Dance Troupe Yanni kept saying “The zournades are coming! The zournades are coming!” Big deal, eh? That was my thinking until three musicians and the inspirational Yvonne Hunt came to teach us dances from Flambouro, Serres, Macedonia. The practice room was alive with music, and the sound shot right through us all. Orpheus was changed forever.

3. Vasilopita, 2001

I turned Yanni, Kosta, and Marianna into the heroes and villains from Austin Powers in the first-ever Orpheus slideshow retrospective. Memories have come to life on the sliver screen at the St. John Great Hall since then to the music of Queen, The Jackson 5, Sonny & Cher, and the Star Wars anthem. I created a monster, and the masses have been hungry for the annual production ever since. 

2. Vaggeli’s Going Away Party, 1995

An event to send off our good friend Vaggelis Zartaloudis, who was moving back to Greece. It was one of those nights when you forget space and time and just have fun. Only a handful who were there are still with the group, but the memory still lingers. I was pretty new to the group at the time, but was a true Orphean by the time the night came to an end.

And the #1 moment is…

1. Festival of Greek Artists Abroad, Athens, 1997

In all honesty, when I look back, this experience was quite possibly the most pivotal point in my life. Somehow I found myself leading a line of dancers from all over the world on the stage of the Theater of Herod Atticus underneath the Acropolis. The details of the trip are in an earlier edition of the Lyra, but most of you know the story already. This trip opened my eyes, answered questions, pointed direction, and showed, for a brief yet glorious moment, just how great life can be when you follow your heart and do what you love.

Okay, so many of these were “guess you had to be there” moments. To those of you who were there, though, I’m sure you will agree that these were indeed some good times, and I’m glad to have shared them with you. What’s great is that there are many, many more to be had. In fact, the next top ten list for the next ten years has already begun…

Thanks, everyone. It’s been a blast.
Top of Page
Guest Voice Instructor
Joins Orpheus
Eftihia Papageorgiou The Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society is pleased to announce that Eftihia Stahlberg-Papageorgiou, a professional voice instructor, will be providing singing and voice lessons for the troupe. Greek folk songs are a major part of the repertoire of the Orpheus Dance Troupe, for both the adult and youth groups and audiences have shown a great appreciation for them. 

Eftihia Papageorgiou is a familiar face in the Chicago Greek Community, both as a performer and music educator. Eftihia received both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Northeastern Illinois University where she studied vocal performance, vocal pedagogy, opera, and piano. For the past 12 years she has been performing, teaching private lessons, directing choirs and musicals, coaching vocalists and vocal ensembles, and doing extensive research on French opera and French art songs. She enjoys composing and has a special passion for children's musical theatre. She is currently the choral director at Northtown Academy.

In September of 2004 Eftihia created an original choral group, the Chicago Hellenic Youth Choir. This choral group is open to all elementary and high school children of the Chicago area Greek Community. The purpose of this choir is to bring its members in contact with the most famous Greek composers and various styles of Greek repertoire, and also to provide a variety of performing opportunities. For more information, you can contact Eftihia at 773.576.0445.
Top of Page
Spotlight on Orpheus Youth Dancer...

Arlington Heights

Parents/Family From:

My mother is from Kalavryta and Tripoli, and my father is of Persian descent.



Time Dancing with Orpheus Group:

4 years

Thoughts on Dancing:

It’s fun and it really lets you express yourself. Greek dancing is part of our culture and it’s a way for us to become more familiar with our heritage.

Favorite Dance:


Most Vivid OHFS Memory:

Probably the concert we had in April two years ago. It was the first time I performed at one of the spring concerts and it was probably the most fun one.

Favorite Greek Dish:

Spanakopita or Tiropita

Favorite Place in Greece:

I haven’t been there yet, but I really want to go to Crete.

Hobbies/Sports/Other Interests:

I love reading and writing and I love to swim. I’m really big on music and I love dancing.

Dream vacation/the perfect weekend:

Definitely in Greece. I would be able to meet all the family I haven’t met yet, and I honestly think Greece is the most beautiful place in the world.

Favorite building/spot in Chicago:

I love going to downtown Chicago, whether it’s Greektown, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue, etc. My absolute favorite time to go there is during Christmastime.

I'm currently looking for/forward to:

The summer without a doubt. I’m hoping we go to Greece and my favorite thing to do by far is go to the Greek picnics.

I stay home to watch:

Friends or Life As We Know It. I also LOVE to watch football and basketball.

Prized possession:

My Greek key ring my mother gave me.

Where I heard about Orpheus Dance Troupe:

When I was at Athena Greek school, we heard about it from all the other families like the Leberis’s, Arvanitis’s, and Minakakis’s.

Top of Page

Last revised:
12/31/2012 04:09 PM