West Deptford, NJ – The Cypriot Society of Greater Philadelphia hosted their annual dance this past Saturday evening and celebrated the Cypriot youth dancers. Formed in 1997 under the Presidency of Georgia Kurnellas the group immediately drew on the youth of the community. More than 30 kids signed up from ages 10 to 18, and studied traditional dances from their homeland.
Joanna Savvides took on the role of Director and instructor of the new group. Savvides had experience with Cypriot traditional dancing. She was a member of a dance group under Vassos Konstantinou in Nicosia. In addition, she received help from the Pancyprians in New York, especially with men’s dances.
They started with the most traditional dances, i.e. men’s and women’s “antikristoi” and continued with “Stamna” “Zeimbekiko”, “Mantra” and many others. In 2006 the culmination of success of the dance group was the performance of the traditional Cyprus wedding at their annual dinner dance!
In 2009 Joanna Savvides left for an overseas assignment and passed the teaching and directorship of the group to Yiota Rotsides, also experienced in Cyprus traditional dancing. Yiota continued to add on and improve the repertoire. Yiota’s efforts are commendable because she works with the very young members of the society starting at age of 6.
The Cyprus Dancers of Greater Philadelphia regularly performs at the annual dinner dance. They have also regularly participated in the Greek Independence day parade in Philadelphia and the dance performance following the parade at St. Demetrios church in Upper Darby.
They have also participated in many local Greek festivals including St. Demetrios, St. Sophia, Annunciation, and others. The dance group has also participated in local cultural events in schools and non-Greek organizations where they have promoted Cypriot dancing and shared traditions with other ethnic groups.
The Cypriot Youth Dancers group continues to play a vital role, by performing and preserving traditional folk dancing from Cyprus. They connect Cypriots to their roots and draw energy to propel their community into the future.