Indulge in hellenic spirit

Music and dancing have always been an integral part of Greek identity. Since ancient times, dancing, or, to use the Greek term, “choros” has brought people together in rituals, festivals, weddings, communal gatherings, or even during wars, where people dance and sing as they know how important it is to seize the moment and live life to the fullest. Even today, Greek communities all around the world perpetuate their traditions establishing undeniable links to their homeland.

One would hardly expect to hear the sound of the Greek lyre or traditional clarinet in this part of the world or rejoice at the sight of a “syrtaki” accompanied by the characteristic bouzouki music. Yet, it takes but the vision and determination of a few to turn dreams into reality.

“The purpose is to serve the Greek culture and tradition and bind the Greek community together, therefore the lessons are free.”

The “Abu Dhabi Hellenic Dancers” group was founded in November 2013 by George Karanikolos. The group seems to have brought “Ithaca” a bit closer to the Middle East as it gradually became a much-needed meeting point for the emerging, yet scattered, Greek community. Born out of love for Greece and Greek tradition, the presence of the group testifies to the fact that Greeks, like Aeneas, carry with them their homeland no matter where they go.

The organizer and instructor George Karanikolos prior to coming to the UAE, was a dance instructor in the “HOFETh” Greek dance school of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and in the USA, where he initiated and instructed two dance groups, the “UB Hellenic Dancers” of the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the “Akrites” in Minneapolis. All classes have been on a volunteer basis and free of charge to all participants. As he says: “The purpose is to serve the Greek culture and tradition and bind the Greek community together, therefore the lessons are free.”

Since its establishment, there have been several people who, out of their love for Greek culture and the community, have offered their help. Among them, special thanks with regard to providing or arranging for space for the classes should be given to the Ellinomatheia Greek language lessons, the Acropolis restaurant at Le Meridien and its former manager Anastasios Zafirakis, and currently the Westin Hotel Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa and in particular its F&B Director Patrick van Venzel for providing the ballroom as well as all the necessary technical equipment.

The dance classes are open to anyone who likes Greek culture and dancing, and take place on a weekly basis with dances from various regions - from Thrace to Crete and Cyprus, and from Pontus to the Ionian Islands. It is worth mentioning that despite the various adversities, the dance group has steadily grown over the years and now comprises of more than 50 regular members.

The group has classes for adults as well as children, while the music and choir team is also active with regular meetings practicing, playing, and singing traditional greek music and songs. With its participation in various performances in the UAE, the group has proudly presented and represented the beauty and diversity of the Greek tradition. Undoubtedly, dancing and music is the one and only way of keeping people together and connecting with such a small but boundless country, like Greece.