Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter
Summer 2005
Previous issues of Lyra
Orpheus Youth Group - End of Year Celebration
Thoughts from Youth Group members 
There and Back Again
Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer

Orpheus Youth Group
End of Year Celebration
Orpheus Youth Group - End of Year CelebrationThe 2004-2005 year for the Orpheus Youth Group concluded with the annual “End of the Year” program, where all group levels presented material that was taught during the last nine months.

The Orpheus Youth Group offers Greek dance and song instruction for children ages 10-15 and this year was a special one for several reasons. Registration reached record levels as all of the 85 available spots were filled. This year also marked the establishment of the apprentice instructional program. The Youth members were divided into three different groups based on previous experience. Each group was assigned a principal instructor along with a pair of apprentice instructors. The goals of the apprentice program were to recruit members of the adult group as instructors and to provide additional instructional assistance for the expanded youth membership. On a weekly basis, instructors issued lesson plans, dance outlines, reflections and other communications in order to provide the best instruction possible and monitor the progress of each group. 

The Youth members provided family and friends with a wonderful event and they exhibited a lot of talent, focus and excitement during their presentations. In addition to the dancing, Youth members were treated to impromptu “quizzes” that included naming the dance to be performed, its pronunciation, and the region from which the dance originated! In addition, several members spoke about their experience with the group and what it has meant to them. It was very moving to hear children at this young age, who have been brought up outside of Greece, speak with such pride and enthusiasm about their Greek heritage.

Many thanks to all the dedicated instructors that elevated the quality of this program as well as all the parents that assisted in many ways throughout the year. Our hope is that many of these Youth members will continue on with the adult group and enrich their cultural experience in the future. 
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Thoughts from Youth group members


I love the Orpheus youth group so much that I decided to stay an extra year. Okay, maybe the real reason I didn’t feel ready to move up was because I still couldn’t tell Yanni and Kosta apart. I am not the only one who stayed an extra year. Ariana and Alexis did the same. They are just two examples of friends that I made while I was in Orpheus. A good thing about Orpheus is that you can meet a lot of other Greek kids your age.

I started Orpheus when I was ten years old. I liked it because Greek dancing is a way to have fun, but it is also a way to learn about our Greek heritage at the same time. We not only get the opportunity to learn dances from all over Greece, but we also see what type of clothing people wore from different parts of Greece. We also learn a lot of songs and it is not a coincidence that there is always a boy named Yanni in them. 

Another good thing about Orpheus is that we do dances other than the typical ones such as “Kalamatiano” and “Tsamiko”. We do more complicated and interesting dances such as “Pidixtos”, “Pentozali”, and Ariana’s favorite “Koutsos”.

We wouldn’t be able to learn all these different dances without certain people. I would like to thank Yanni, Kosta, Mrs. Grosso, Alex, Ms. Jenny, and Ms. Vicky. It is hard work to be able to teach us since we’re not the easiest bunch of kids. Ask Alex. He’ll tell you we are a little talkative. Sometimes he has to get tough with us, but don’t be fooled, he is a teddy bear on the inside. We also give Ms. Jenny and Ms. Vicky a hard time sometimes… Okay maybe it’s usually just me, but I’m glad that they started teaching because they are good teachers. 

I had a lot of great memories in the youth group such as performing at the Museum of Science and Industry, the various Vasilopites, but my favorite memory was the concert at Niles West. It took a lot of hard work, and I remember that I was really nervous and excited before the performance started. In the end, all of our hard work paid off because the performance was our best yet. I’m sad to leave the Orpheus youth group because it has been a lot of fun, and my Saturday afternoons will feel empty. I’m leaving the Orpheus youth group with a lot of unforgettable memories, but I am excited about joining the adult group next year. 

Christina M.

Hello, I’m Christina.  I’ve been in the Orpheus youth group since 1999, basically for as long as I can remember.   It has been an amazing experience and I can’t wait to join the adult group. Orpheus has been great.  It's been amazing meeting and getting to know kids my age, who love dancing and who are just as obsessed with their Greek culture as I am.   

In the past 6 years I have gotten to know and respect Alex, Bessie, Vicky, Jenny, Kosta, Yianni, Marianna, Popi, and all the instructors.  Although I still may not be able to tell Kosta and Yianni apart, they have made a big impact on me.  With every practice and every performance and every trip to Goody’s, I’ve gotten to make great friends and also learn interesting things about my culture.  

I think some of my favorite memories of Orpheus were the three winter conferences I went to with my family.  Atlanta, New York, and Boca Raton were the best ever!  It's not every day you get to dance in the subway in New York, or dance in the streets in Boca Raton at 3 in the morning.  I was able to meet people from all over the country, Canada, and Greece, and I had the opportunity to learn new dances from Greece and perform in front of everyone.  

All in all, Orpheus has been a completely amazing experience.  To quote a great author, “ Orpheus is like one big dancing family,”  and I’m glad to be a part of it. Youth group was great and I can’t wait to start the adult group. I encourage all of you to continue dancing because it is one of the greatest things you can do to support your culture.

Christina D.

A wise man once said, “Greek dance is not for creampuffs.” Who would have thought that we see this clever man every Thursday and Saturday? Yes, it is our very own Alex Kapotas. But what is this quote really saying? After you’ve been dancing for years, you only begin to understand the meaning. 

We come to dance every Saturday or every Thursday for what though? Are we being dragged or have we really become addicted? As for me, my addiction has gone over board. When I walked into this dance troupe five or six years ago, I doubt I even knew what a toumbeleki, a defi or a daouli was. But now not only do I know what they are, but I can play them as well. This dance troupe has given me the opportunity to find out not only about the Greek dances our ancestors danced but to learn the music that they danced to.

I think the thing that’s probably the most remarkable of all is that when you go to Greece and are at a party, most people don’t know dances other than our everyday “Kalamatiano” and “Tsamiko” and here we are miles away from our old country, and we know twice as much as they do. It’s amazing to me that a lot of the people in Greece don’t take advantage of their culture, their history and their incredible music, while here our number one song on our Ipods is “Yianni Mou to Mantili Sou”. 

To me, when I come to dance every week, it never really gets boring. Of course there may be times when you may not be very fond of a dance but honestly, I’d rather be taking Greek dance than hip hop or jazz. Why? Because it’s really who we are. How can you even call yourself Greek if you know nothing about your culture? You will often hear something like, “Baedouska’s getting so old!” Well, it’s older than they think and it still couldn’t be any better. 

But not only do we dance remarkable dances, but we make wonderful memories in the process while meeting the most wonderful people. I have to admit, it’s awesome to be able to tell your friends at school, “I’m going to be in Florida for dance, so have fun doing that project.” Being in this dance group also makes you realize the amazing talents you have. Turning your skirt into a headpiece, singing for a party or even dancing “Pentozalis” while on crutches is just the beginning. 

Orpheus has given me times I will never forget, the most remarkable friends and the best things to put on t-shirts. So live by the saying, “No Fousta, No Sousta!”


Hello everyone, my name is Peter. My first year in Orpheus has been truly a great year. Back in September, when I first started, I was very nervous. As I walked into practice I saw a whole bunch of unfamiliar faces who would soon become friends that I will keep for life. After a few practices I made friends and I was having the time of my life. Orpheus began to take over my world and I loved every second of it. I couldn’t wait to dance. My dance skills improved dramatically . I learned a bunch of new dances. I loved dance so much but I wanted more. So, I asked Yianni and Kosta if I could stay extra and practice with the adult group. They agreed and how joyous I was!

Who would have thought in a matter of no time I got to perform? Orpheus became a big part of my life. I know that I will continue to participate without hesitation. As long as Orpheus exists, I will be there. For all of you youth members, continue with the adult group.It will definitely be a good decision. I would like to thank my dance instructors for without them I would be nowhere. Thank you guys for inspiring my true passion and opening a whole new world for me. 
Long live the Orpheus Dance Troupe!

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There and Back Again
by Adam Papadolias
Like many Greek-American boys, I learned the bad words first. Otherwise, my first steps into Greekness were limited to soccer, wrestling, and my father and his friend half-joking about some sort of deal concerning my brother, me, and his friend's two daughters. My first leap into my heritage was in 1978 when my father took me to Kollines, his home-village near Tripolis.

I was an eight year old reading Tolkien's folkloric classic The Hobbit during our trip to Greece, so I found much in common between the settings of the novel and the hills where my father grew up. Every day I rode the donkey down the slopes to the tiered pools of water that magically filled back up by the next morning after we'd spent all day watering our gardens. My father always checked for snakes before reaching in to unplug the pools. At sunrise in the foggy mountains we'd eat fresh bread, pick figs off the trees, and drink coffee. The purple mist covered more than the wild and the next town in the distance; the brave firmament hung over a history beyond half my genes, for down in the valley still rested a type of museum: the old house of my father's childhood up to the night the Nazi army invaded and burned down the village.

We do not live in places like that house as long as they live in us. After we've washed the soot from the walls off our fingers, we can still see the blackness of that night during World War II even if we weren't there. It was the place my grandmother fled with my aunt Georgia and my then three year old father, and they hid in the hills for months. I've often tried to imagine the mindset of a child hearing the adults warn each other the enemy was coming. I can see my tiny grandmother pack up and grab the kids, and I know from the way I was raised that even then my father probably never whined or cried about being hungry, cold, or tired as he left behind everything he knew as home. It was the place I first pulled the trigger on my Uncle Pete's bulletless gun, envisioning the enemy where once had been windows.

Seeing the old house and holding the pistol were rites of passage for me as was my first full glass of wine. I proved myself a natural with grapes although I didn't fair so well when it came time for Ouzo. My brother was the lucky one; he got to brag about finding the scorpion in his bed. My greatest heroic feat was the capture of a lizard using a hangman's noose on the end of a stick. The worst thing that happened to me in Greece was when my grandmother found my super-cool 1978 cut-off jean shorts with soft, frayed fringe as wavy as the Mediterranean, and she . . . hemmed them!

Then we came home and the only time I was ever Greek at all was when I met other Greeks from other wrestling teams. They were usually friendly kids but, like I was, a bit serious. We were not on the dance floor what we were on the wrestling mat. Maybe our center of gravity was too low, or perhaps we were just too grave.

Not until my first year as a public school teacher did I ever contemplate dancing, and it was not a Greek style. An Ojibwe student invited me to a Native American pow wow, a dance gathering, where I was simultaneously overcome by both awe and loneliness. To watch and hear a celebration of ethnicity and heritage with such dazzling colors and thunderous sounds left me a spectator on the outside of their circle. In spite of their repeated invitations to come down and dance on "inter-tribal" songs, I was afraid to fail, be alone in front of people, and look stupid. I envied their unity and how their loved ones had worked for years on their dance outfits to make them look beautiful. I was also facing being twenty-four years old and going out into the singles scene, where the thought of dancing in front of prospective significant others simply mortified me. By day I would preach self-esteem into students, but by night I would practice little of my own.

I kept going back to pow wows, and at twenty-eight I made my first grass dance regalia with a new best friend, who happened to be an Ojibwe artist and the first of a few Native Americans to adopt me into his "clan" even though I wasn't what they call a "full-blood," a "half-blood," or even the notorious one-eighth Cherokee. Nevertheless, the grass dance fit me. It originated with one boy who was not like the others; being white in a mostly red circle was the least of my differences. The style's originator had suffered a bad leg and couldn't dance like the others, but he saw the tall prairie grass swaying in the wind and made up a new style, which today is known as a medicine dance for healing his leg. For seven years now it's been healing my shyness and nurturing my self-confidence in the pow wow circle, around the Midwest, down to New Mexico, and eventually back to my origins.

Adam with Gage Park High School's Junior Reserve Officer Training CorpsAs silly as it may sound, My Big Fat Greek Wedding did have something to do with me finding Orpheus. When a subculture hits mainstream film, bridges go up. Right away my friends wanted to know if my father used Windex as a panacea. No, he used olive oil. Then they insisted I teach them Greek dances, but I didn't know any.

While taking classes in Irish ballads, Mariachi, and tabla at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, I saw that there was going to be a big fat Greek dance seminar. I half expected to be yelled at a lot, but Gianni and Kostas only said, "Look up! You stare at the floor!" Well, we had these two big dogs and a big yard when I was a kid, so I made a habit out of watching everywhere I walked, but I guess it's time to hold my head up.
Just as I was nervous about joining the Native American dance circle, I felt a little odd when I first walked into Orpheus, but being a half-blood was easy after being a no-blood. You could say that Greece has since flooded my blood. I work every week on reading and speaking Greek, and soon I will go see my cousins in Athens and find my father's village, Kollines. Will the dome of the church with its murals look as high and historic as it did when I was eight? Now that I can read Greek, I want to see the cemetery and find the rest of the Papadolias clan.

news20052Adam2.JPG (62733 bytes)Getting to know Greeks has been a journey in itself. What do I like best about Orpheus? The dances? Yes, especially Zonaradikos. The music? Yes, especially Kalamatiano. The teachers? As a teacher myself, I know that there is no student more difficult to satisfy than another teacher, and I hold Gianni and Kostas in the highest regard not only for their dancing but also their ability to motivate, explain, be patient, and keep lessons fun. Above all, I like how Greek dances, music, teachers, and students form a community. When we're all together and the head and tail whip inward on Zonaradikos, it's as if I get flashbacks of my dad's village sweeping into the hills together, surviving together. Though the night is cold and the enemy is coming, we're hot and we tug each other along. Like the hobbit I was reading about the first time I went to Greece, I hope to go "There and Back Again."
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Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer...
Vicky Melahoures

Chicago, IL and Orange County, CA I consider both home.

Parents/Family From:

My dad is from Agio Petro, Kynouria, Arcadias
My mom is from Karyes, Sparti, Laconias


Ebay Resale Agent; Property Manager, and soon-to-be Real Estate Agent. 

Time Dancing with Orpheus Group:

Since September, 2002

Thoughts on Dancing:

One of my true loves! I’ve been Greek folk dancing since I was six and still going…!

Favorite Dance:

Anything Cretan and Pontian…I like the energetic and powerful ones!

Most Vivid OHFS Memory:

The Halloween party my sis and I threw last year and how Demitri “Mitso” Dallas came dressed as Giorgo Kotso (an instructor from Greece) with jacket, towel, cigarette, mustaki and all!

Favorite Greek Dish:

Bring it on, I love ‘em all!

Favorite Place in Greece:

The island of Kriti with Santorini coming in a close second. My horio outside of Sparti is always a good time, too.

Hobbies/Sports/Other Interests:

Dancing (of course), traveling, cooking, theater, movies, volleyball, rollerblading, pool, and going out on the town…, wherever that town may be.

Nobody knows I...

visited Castle Dracula in the Carpathian Mountains of the Transylvania region of Romania…it really does exist!

Best Childhood Memory:

Competing in the Folk Dance Festival (FDF) every year while growing up in CA, and visiting Yosemite National Park every June with my family, where we’d go white water rafting. 

Dream vacation/the perfect weekend:

European road trip…, but it doesn’t really matter where I go, just with whom.

Favorite building/spot in Chicago:

Michigan Avenue; where I live.

I'm currently looking for/forward to:

my summer in Greece and participating in the Folk Dance Festival in San Diego, CA this coming winter.

I stay home to watch:

“Smallville” and any George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Quentin Tarantino movies. I’m also into classic comedies. 

Prized possession:

My health, my family, and all those who are close and always there for me.

Where I heard about Orpheus Dance Troupe:

I saw the group perform at the St. Peter and Paul Church Festival and joined shortly thereafter.

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Last revised:
12/31/2012 05:45 PM