By Ioanna Yiantsos

Greek Folk Dance groups all around the United States have been participating in the “Greek Dance Challenge.” This dares Greek Folk Dance groups of the United States to take a traditional Greek dance and perform to a Non-Greek Song. Young dancers today are defied to find a way of mixing their American and Greek cultures, and this game allows them to do just that.

The Sons and Daughters of Alexander the Great Greek Dance Troupe from Boston, MA spread the word of the challenge to the Philadelphia area by dancing Ikaryotiko to Shape of You by Ed Sheeran and nominating the Pan-Macedonian Dance group of Philadelphia to do this challenge. The president of this group, Prokopis Hatzidimitriu stated that “we usually do traditional northern Greek dances so this was something a little different,” adding to the idea of branching out of the comfort zone of traditional Greek dancing.

The Hellenic Dancers from neighboring New Jersey danced Koulouriotiko to “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot and the Boston Lykeion Ellinidon performed Sofka to “Bust a Move” by Young MC.

Our very own Pan-Macedonian Dance Group from Philadelphia participated in the challenge by dancing Sarakina to “Gangster’s Paradise” by Coolio. When asking the dancers how they picked Gangster’s Paradise, Harry Malapetsas specified that the group “was looking for rap songs of the 80’s and 90’s that had a lot of influence in pop-culture”. “Angelina (Maroulis) suggested to dance Sarakina because it was slow enough to go with the beat and we had been practicing it for our 25th of March Celebration performance,” added Irene Parastatidis, another member of the dance group.

As Greek-Americans, we sometimes find it hard to incorporate our traditional Greek culture with our modern American culture. When Harry was asked how he thought this would impact the Greek-American Society, he replied, “I think it will impact the society by showing kids that dance isn’t boring, old, and lame. It helps to create great connections with the youth, and those memories and connections stay with you as you get older. It also shows that traditional dance can be fun!”. This exercise shows how we can interlink two important aspects of our lives and keep the Greek culture alive in America.

Here is the challenge video of the Pan-Macedonian Philadelphia Dance Group, maybe your dance group will be nominated next. Start thinking of ideas!