Dance Exhibition Celebrates Greek Independence
The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York presented its second annual Greek dance and music exhibition on April 17, at the Cretans’ Society of Omonia Kritiko Spiti, (Crete House), 32- 33 31st St. in Astoria as part of the weekend long celebration of Greek Independence Day.
More than 20 dance groups representing local Greek community organizations and orthodox churches participated. Some of the performances included the St. Demetrios of Jamaica Day School Greek Dancers, St. Demetrios Cathedral Greek School Dancers, Brooklyn Holy Cross Young Adult League, Greek American Folklore Society, Pan Cyprian Dance Group, St. Isidoros Greek Dance Group, “Oi Kolokotronei” Pan-Hellenic Dancers, Cretans’ Association of NY “Omonia” and the Brooklyn Holy Cross Young Adult League. The Greek Presidential Guard, known as Evzones, made a special appearance, having just arrived from Athens the day before. The Evzones, wearing their signature white kilts, marched in the Greek Independence Day parade on April 18 on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The Evzones wear a unique uniform that features a red-tasseled phareon cap, the foustanella kilt, tsarouchia shoes, a leather cartridge belt and white woolen breeches. The foustanella kilt is made of 100 feet of material pleated 400 times. Each pleat represents every year of Turkish occupation. The tsarouchia wooden shoes weigh over three pounds apiece and contain 60 hobnails in the sole and a black pompom over the toes. The service uniform tunic is khaki. In the summer a cotton tunic is worn in dress uniform while the winter uniform known as the Macedonian is made of heavier fabric and has a thick blue woolen tunic. As regular soldiers of the Hellenic Army, they are also issued camouflaged battle uniforms and wear a distinctive blue beret while on fatigue duties. They also guard the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens.
“This is our opportunity to display our culture,” George Stavros, local artist and writer, said. “Since most of the young people performing here today are American born they must learn about the history of Greek independence.”
Greece became independent after a decade -long revolution against the Ottoman Empire. The revolution is traditionally observed on March 25. Greece was officially recognized as an independent nation in 1832.
“Events like this give a chance for our youth to explore their heritage,” Charles Marangoudakis, event co-chair and volunteer, said. “Many of the youth here today come from the tri-state area and today’s dance exhibit gives them a chance to meet each other.”
The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York is the largest community organization of its kind, with a membership of more than 150 active societies, of which 100 are regional Greek societies with a record of achievements and responsible for preserving Greece’s national and religious identity and traditions. The FHSGNY also grants scholarships and other moral recognitions to pupils and students.
For more information, visit www.hellenicsocieties.org.