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Hellenic Dancers of NJ Annual Taverna Night: The Greeks of Asia Minor

HDNJ performs "Koutalia" (spoons) from Cappadocia in Asia Minor at the Riverside Theater in NYC.
HDNJ performs "Koutalia" (spoons) from Cappadocia in Asia Minor at the Riverside Theater in NYC.

The nationally famous Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey (HDNJ) present its Annual Taverna Night Dinner Dance Saturday, May 10, 2014, at the Cultural Community Center of Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church, 20 Hillcrest Road in Holmdel, NJ. Beginning at 7:30 pm, attendees will enjoy a full Greek dinner buffet, Greek and popular music, and a special two-part performance by the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey. All proceeds from the event will support HDNJ in preserving the folk dance customs of Greece, and perpetuating Greek heritage in America. Funding from the event will also support the dance troupe’s 2014 touring schedule. Advance reservations for this event can be made by contacting Cheryl Bontales, 732.796.1006; bontsc@aol.com. Tickets are $35 adults; $25 students (13 – 23); $15 kids (12 and under). Tickets are $5 more at the door. This event is funded in part by the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey, Inc., and New Jersey State Council on the Arts - Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Part 1 features the ancient dances of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) which was settled by the Hellenes 2500 years ago. Traditional folk dances of Pontos, Cappadocia and Smyrna will be highlighted such as, Agios Basilatikos, Kandilia, Letsi-Letsina, Varavara, Mahiera and Koutalia.  As this region of Greece no longer exists, this performance is even more important as it brings a piece of this little known culture to New Jersey. “The majority of the Greeks of Asia Minor were brutally expelled from this area from 1914 - 1923. As 2014 is the 100th Anniversary of this poignant event in Greek history, we (HDNJ) were compelled to honor the culture, strength and spirit of these people,” said Spiro Petroutsos, Artistic Director.

 

Part two is a “pikilia” or assortment of folk dances from throughout the Greek world, including Karpathos, Rhodes, Crete, Macedonia, Thrace, the Ionian Islands and Cyprus to name a few. Many of the dances featured in the performance cannot be seen outside of the region in which they originated. “Through our research, we endeavor to create culturally accurate presentations of the regional folkdances of Greece. This has been part of HDNJ’s mission since our founders established the troupe in 1972,” said Soteria Kostas, Artistic Director. “As they are no longer with us, we strive with each performance to nurture the gift that they have passed on to us.”

 

Proceeds from HDNJ’s Annual Taverna Night will support this all-volunteer 501 (c) 3 nonprofit with general operating expenses. By purchasing a ticket audience members directly assist HDNJ in its mission of preserving Greek culture through presentations of the traditional folk dances of Greece. 

 

Founded in 1972, by Fr. Jim and Eleni Chakalos, the Hellenic Dancers of NJ has researched, presented and preserved over 300 folk dances, songs, and traditions from mainland Greece, its islands, Cyprus, and Asia Minor, and passed them on to two generations of Greek Americans.  The troupe has been commended numerous times throughout its 42-year history, for its dedication to its mission, as well as the enthusiasm and excitement of its performances. The dance troupe is currently comprised of first, second, third and fourth generation Greek Americans, ranging in age from 16 – 45, and representing the many Greek communities of New Jersey.  

 

This outstanding troupe is nationally recognized for its presentation of Greek traditions and has performed at a number of local and national events including: Dukakis Presidential Rally, Inaugural Festivities for former President Ronald Reagan, Statue of Liberty Weekend Grand Finale, 20/20 ABC Television Program, Queens College of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies Benefit, O. Elytis Chair of Modern Greek Studies at Rutgers University Benefit, Union County College Folk Arts Festival, the NJ State Ethnic and Diversity Festival, for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew upon his first official visit to New Jersey, and Greek Heritage Day with the Metrostars. Members of the troupe participated in the Closing Ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece and at the 2006 Centennial Epiphany celebrations in Tarpon Springs, FL.

 

For more information about the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey, please contact Arete Bouhlas, Publicity Coordinator, 732.236.2108; info@hellenicdancersofnj.org, or visit

www.hellenicdancersofnj.org or www.facebook.com/Hellenicdancersofnj

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