On December 3, 2023, the Boston Lykeion Ellinidon (BLE) celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding with “From Our Roots, Flowers Bloom,” a multimedia showcase of music, dance, poetry, drama, and traditional Greek arts. Staged at the Maliotis Cultural Center of Hellenic College Holy Cross, by all accounts, the event was a resounding success!
The unique performance combined different facets of the Boston Lykeion Ellinidon (BLE) to highlight traditional Greek music and dance – both from Greece and the Greek diaspora. Under the leadership of George Kyriazidis, Claire Aliki Collins, and Andrea Messina, the 25th Anniversary Committee harnessed the talent and effort of BLE members to delight the audience with a fast-paced tour of Hellenic culture. The performance moved from acting to history to dancing to poetry, and back again, all accompanied by live music provided by REVMA under the direction of Sandra Theodorou, chair of the BLE Traditional Music Department. Dance troupe members gave memorable renditions of dances from across the Hellenic world, wearing traditional outfits from Metaxades (Thrace), Rethymno (Crete), Vovousa (Epirus), Kimi (Euboea), Drimos (Macedonia), and Asia Minor, among others.
- President Irene Savas’s insight into approaching traditional dance performance for a modern audience
- REVMA’s performance, including Kallinifta (a song in the Grecanico dialect of the Griko, a Greek minority in Southern Italy), and Tzivaeri, featuring Nikol Benander
- Poetry readings by Dr. Vassiliki Rapti and Peter Bottéas
- A traditional Aivaliotiko zeibekiko featuring George Kyriazidis
- A suite of Cretan dances featuring the BLE Dance Troupe
- A dramatized conversation between a mother and daughter (played by Angela and Chloe Athanasopoulos) discussing Greek marriage traditions, illustrated by traditional dances from mainland Greece and the islands
- A video about the life and work of Kalliroi Siganou Parren, founder of the Lykeion ton Ellinidon, scripted by Claire Aliki Collins and narrated by Daphne Kaxiras
The event centered on the BLE’s efforts to pass these arts and traditions on to future generations, especially as a Lykeion chapter of the Greek diaspora. Many speakers highlighted the organization’s obligations and responsibilities in preserving Greek traditions and passing them to future generations, along with sharing our Greek culture with people from all cultural backgrounds. Michael Savas, dance director, reminded the audience that “[w]hen we fully appreciate the entirety of our dances, we move from being performers to something more – becoming stewards of the Greek dance tradition.”
After the finale, Vasilios “Bill” Kafkas, president of the Federation of Hellenic American Societies, honored President Irene Savas with an award for her commitment, passion, experience, and hard work, which have propelled the Boston Lykeion Ellinidon for 25 years. Read Mr. Kafkas’s review of the event on his blog, Paneliakos.com (in Greek, with English translation available via the link in the sidebar.) The event was also covered by The National Herald (Greek language) and ERT News (Greek language).
In the lobby of the Maliotis Center, attendees enjoyed numerous exhibits detailing the work of the BLE’s various departments – including an exploration of traditional Greek music from Sandra Theodorou, and a display of authentic clothing, shoes, and embroidery donated by the estate of Dr. Sotiris (“Sam”) Chianis curated by Andrea Messina, chair of the Traditional Attire and Decorative Arts Department. Giannis Apazidis, musician and head of Radio Trapezounta Boston, demonstrated Pontic music on a variety of instruments. (Read more on the Radio Trapezounta Boston website!) And Somerset Hall Press, publisher of Dr. Rapti’s recent poetry collection,Transitorium, hosted a booth featuring their publications.
After the performance, the dancers, singers, poets, organizers, and audience members came together to eat, drink, and, of course, dance. Desserts were donated by Athan’s Bakery, and additional support for the event was provided by Brite Kleen and photographer Anastasia Petridis. Giannis Apazidis and others provided live music that swept the attendees into dance – a perfect end to a wonderful evening.
Our traditions have roots in the past, but they are certainly not static or frozen. In her presentation, BLE President and Founder Irene Savas informed the audience that “[w]hen we authentically present the traditions as well as the steps, we become a living museum. The audience and performers imagine together. When the music begins and the dancers start moving, the audience gains an entertaining show and experiences a piece of the puzzle that comprises our identity and our legacy.” This living legacy was exactly what bloomed on December 3, 2023.