Proceeds Benefit Local and International Charities
On Sunday, March 17, 2013, the nationally renowned Hellenic Dancers of NJ (HDNJ) bring sunny Greece to Holmdel High School Theater in a special two-part performance, “Journey to Greece Through Dance”. This benefit will raise money for the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, as well as Project Hope for Greece. Part one highlights dances from the Ionian Islands, or Eptanisa as they are know in Greece. The performance will also feature dances in the second segment from Macedonia, Thrace, and the islands of Rhodes, Karpathos and Crete.
“Our group has always been community-minded,” said Executive Director Eleni Filippatos. “Our dancers have always participated in some type of volunteer work, and the troupe has donated performances throughout central Jersey. In light of Superstorm Sandy, and the economic issues that are on-going in Greece, we decided that this year for our annual benefit, we wanted to help some charities that we had a connection to. The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties helps so many people in our local community, and is needed now more than ever. Project Hope for Greece raises funds to distribute to charities in Greece whose mission it is to directly help those most affected by the economic crisis.”
Each year for its annual benefit performance, HDNJ’s artistic staff creates a program that specifically emphasizes one of the 20 regions of Greece, as well as a segment dedicated to presenting an assortment of dances from throughout the Greek world. The Ionian Islands were chosen for the 2013 benefit because the troupe has never presented a suite of this island group’s dances.
"Since the Eptanisa is a region that HDNJ has not really showcased before, it allows us an opportunity to give everyone a taste of something new. As a lover of Greek dance, I am truly excited to showcase a small sample of the dances and history of the these islands. This, combined with a refreshing variety of dances that we will be performing in the Pikilia (assortment) segment, will make for a wonderful show, " says Co-Artistic Director Spiro Petroutsos.
The Ionian Islands are found off the western coast of Greece in the Ionian Sea. Due to their close proximity to Italy, these islands are influenced by Italian culture, especially the city of Venice. The Republic of Venice controlled the Ionian islands from 1204 to 1797, and because of this, these islands are the only part of Greece which escaped Ottoman rule. The Venetian influence is particularly evident in the islands’ folk music and dance, as they dances are lively, light-hearted, and often flirtatious.
HDNJ has preserved Greek folk dance and music traditions in America for over 41 years. The troupe’s founders, Presvytera Eleni Chakalos and Fr. Jim Chakalos, founded the group as a way for local youth of Greek descent to learn the traditions of their ancestors, as well as an appreciation for their roots. Due to their efforts, what began as a small Monmouth County community group, grew into a thriving nationally recognized non-profit with a 300-plus Greek folk dance repertoire, and a membership from all over New Jersey. Co-Artistic Directors, Soteria Kostas and Spiro Petroutsos are dedicated to continuing this tradition of fostering a love and appreciation for Greek folk culture in the current dances, as well as audiences who attend HDNJ performances.
“This year will be my first benefit as a Co-Artistic Director for HDNJ and I am hoping to honor our group’s prestigious history, our Co-Founder Presvytera Chakalos, and all previous co-directors and teachers for bestowing upon us the opportunity and the honor of preserving and continuing their outstanding accomplishments. Additionally, at this year’s benefit , our faithful audience members and fans will be given a display of what our talented dancers will be offering in the years to come. We are truly blessed with an opportunity to show our love and pride for our culture through dance,” says Ms. Kostas.
“Journey to Greece Through Dance” takes place on Sunday, March 17, 2013, from 3 – 5 pm at Holmdel High School Theater, 36 Crawford’s Corner Road in Holmdel. Tickets are only $20 and will be available at the door. An array of Greek desserts will also be available for purchase during intermission. For reservations, contact Cheryl Bontales, firstname.lastname@example.org or 732.796.1006. Proceeds will benefit the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Project Hope for Greece and the Hellenic Dancers of NJ. All tickets and donations are tax deductible. For more information, please visit www.hellenicdancersofnj.org.