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Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey Celebrate 35th Anniversary April 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.

Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey Celebrate 35th Anniversary > Gala dedicated to the memory of the Very Rev. Fr. Jim Chakalos, Co-Founder

The famous Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey will commemorate their 35th Anniversary with a gala celebration on Sunday, April 29, 2007, from 3 – 8 pm at the Pines Manor, 2085 Route 27, Edison, NJ.

The event is dedicated in memory of the organization’s Co-Founder, the Very Reverend Fr. Jim Chakalos, who passed away in September 2006. This event is funded in part by the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey Inc., New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey Historic Trust and the Coby Foundation Ltd.

Proceeds from this event will assist the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey in continuing their mission of researching and performing the many regional folk dances of Greece, and perpetuating their Greek heritage in the American and Greek- American communities. All donations are tax deductible.

The Gala, which celebrates the 35 year history of the troupe, offers two exciting dance performances by the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey, and over 100 alumni dancers who are returning to participate in this special event. The fist half of the presentation is dedicated to the Traditional Greek Village Wedding, based on the actual wedding of a alumni dancer’s family member in central Greece. Originally performed 20 years ago, the Traditional Greek Village Wedding will take audiences back to a simpler time when weddings occurred in the village square, and gifts consisted of wine and food for the reception, various types of fabric and livestock. The second half of the performance will highlight the Greek regions of Makedonia, Thrace, Pontos, Crete, Cyprus and the various Island groups, showcasing dances that are little seen outside of these areas. Music will be provided by DJ Pegasus, and the Golden Greeks II Express featuring Lazaros Paraskevas (vocals) and George Manioudakis (clarinet).

Throughout the evening, the Very Reverend Fr. Jim Chakalos will be honored and remembered through images and anecdotes. Since co-founding the dance troupe in 1972, Fr. Jim was extremely active in the organization until his passing in September 2006. He was not only co-founder and chairman of the board, but took an active role in the lives of the dancers by nurturing their continuing interest in Greek folkdance and their Greek heritage, and by encouraging a sense of family and friendship within the group.

Founded in 1972, the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey is a group of young men and women, who are first, second, or third generation Greek-Americans, and are dedicated to perpetuating their heritage through enthusiastic performances of the regional folk dances of Greece. Under founders, Fr. Jim and Eleni Chakalos, over 300 dances, songs, and traditions from mainland Greece, its islands, Cyprus, and Asia Minor, have been preserved and passed on to two generations of Greek Americans.

This outstanding troupe is nationally recognized for its presentation of Greek traditions and has performed at the following events: 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; Odyseus 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; Closing Ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece; and the 2006 Centennial Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs, FL.

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