Roots of a Movement

Connecting People, Traditions & Generations

The Folk Dance Movement in California

Individuals and organizations committed to the folk dances of Greece and other countries became energized in mid-20th century California. These influences were vital to the launch and growth of the Greek Folk Dance Festival (FDF).

Spring International Folk Dance Weekend, Catalina, CA circa 1969 Front Row: Peter Knee, Mike Rogers, Nick Varvitsiotis, Ted Karavidas, Gary Relin, George Nickols. Back Row: Adrian Gola, Sue Settlage, not identified, Linda Rogers, Jeanne Hoffman, Madeline Merineau, Anne Gani Sirota, Joan Parks, Sara Miller, Tom Sears

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Dance Department

“UCLA was not only a pioneer in the founding of a department concerned with both the theory and practice of dance, but had pioneered the formal introduction of the field of Dance Ethnology to US education,” writes Allegra Fuller Snyder, Professor Emerita of Dance and former Director of the pioneering Graduate Program in Dance Ethnology at UCLA, in an article for the Dance History Project of Southern California. The AMAN Folk Ensemble, founded in 1964 on the campus of UCLA, had its roots in the international folk dance community of the Los Angeles area.

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The Hellas Dancers

The Hellenic Dancers

The Hellenic Dancers was a professional group that performed in films and on TV, as well as at church events. Along with Chris Tasulis, George Nickols, Mary Coros, the late Nikos Varvitsiotis and Charlie Kyriacou, who also directed the group, became FDF judges in the early years.

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Steve Reynolds, Pete Knee, Gerard Amzallag, Adrian Gola, and Tom Devin

The Intersection

The Intersection folk dance coffeehouse was founded in 1964 on Alvarado Street in Los Angeles. Owned by Athan Karras and Rudy Dannes, it became a landmark for Greek and other cultural folk dancing until it closed on December 31, 1984. The unofficial start of The Intersection came when Louise Bilman, Rudy Dannes, Chalo Holgui, and Marilyn Sage paid $3,000 to secure the space in August, 1964.

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Kypseli Greek Dance Center

The Kypseli Greek Dance Center was started in 1985 at Vasa Hall in Pasadena, following the close of the Intersection folk dance café. Kypseli is now located in Sherman Oaks.