Dance group aims to keep old traditions alive
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Dancing on the head of a Canadian Club bottle may seem impossible, but it’s a common practice for some members of the Levendia - X dance group in Toronto.
The group was formed over 10 years ago as a way for young Greek adults to continue practicing traditional dance, as they grew older.
“Our group’s mandate is to preserve and disseminate Hellenic culture to the Diaspora, so to Greek people and to non-Greek people,” says Levendia - X president Roula Tsiklis.
“Our group as it started, you had to be 19 plus. It’s kind of like the graduate school of Greek dancing.”
Members of the organization practice and teach traditional dances, the more complicated of which utilize props like liquor and wine bottles.
“When we started we were a group of 30 dancers. We suffered a lull where the membership of dancers plummeted to maybe about 12 dedicated members. Now we’re back to over 40 and strong,” says Tsiklis, who also holds a day job at Abotex Pharmaceuticals.
Levendia - X performs their dances for a variety of audiences, ranging from business groups to Greek organizations and folk festivals.
“We’ve been around for over 10 years, and in the course of those 10 years we’ve made a lot of contacts, it’s all word-of-mouth,” says Tsiklis, adding the dancers have performed all over the GTA and Ontario.
“We’ve also been invited to Winnipeg and danced there two years in a row at North America’s largest multicultural festival called Folkorama,” says Tsiklis.
Despite their successes, Levendia - X remains a non-profit organization that re-invests any of its resources back into the troupe.
“Anything that the group makes, and I’m using that term ‘makes’ as a loose term, it’s basically a donation. If we perform and someone wants to give us something it goes back into the group,” says Tsiklis, explaining that the money is used to pay for dance teachers, hall rentals for practice, and the occasional function for the members.
Levendia - X recently broke away from its original incarnation as an adult only troupe, and started as second dance group for younger members.
“We just hope to keep building and bringing programs together so that we can continue to fulfill our goal to preserve and disseminate Hellenic culture,” says Tsiklis.