Who we are
The Greek-American Folklore Society is dedicated to the study,
preservation and instruction of the history and traditions of
Hellenic folk culture. We share our work with the public through stage
re-enactments of traditional Greek customs, songs and dances, as well as
through lectures, exhibits and workshops.
The Society activities encompass a wide variety of folk art traditions
from all regions and islands of Greece, in addition to the communities of
the Greek Diaspora past and present. The primary focus is on Demotic folk
songs and dances, as these reveal both the spirit and materiality of their
respective cultures of origin. In the lyrics, music and ritualized motion
of Greek folk traditions, we see reflections of a people's history,
spirituality and world-view. We discern aesthetic ideals which defined
Greek communities of past generations.
We give special attention to old Greek communities lost or otherwise
forgotten in the Balkans. Of particular importance to GAFS is the authenticity of the material it teaches and presents, which is accomplished through extensive research in the villages of Greece, as well as collaboration with prominent folk groups and organizations in Greece.
Our performance genre thus stands as a vital link between the engraved
folk traditions and their contemporary expressions within radically
different contexts. They survive not only in memory and legend, but in the
dynamic structures which continue to shape the Hellenic identity and the
communities of the Diaspora today.
GAFS was founded in 1983 by Apostolos "Paul" Ginis as a non-profit organization. Within a few years, GAFS became one of the most respected Greek Folklore organizations in North America. Mr. Ginis himself quickly became a recognized authority on Greek folklore and was often invited to teach, lecture and collaborate, not only within the US and Canada, but also in Greece, in such prestigious places as the Lykeion ton Hellenidon (Lyceum of Greek Women), the "Dora Stratou" Theater, the Society for the Dissemination of National Music etc.
Perhaps one of Mr. Ginis's most notable achievements is that he inspired many of his pupils to become actively involved in preserving and teaching our folk arts. Some of his pupils have gone on to found their own folklore groups, others learned how to play traditional instruments and/or sing while others still became interested in making costumes etc.
The Greek American Folklore Society offers instruction in folk dancing for dancers of all ages, abilities and levels, including special classes for children. During the classes the dances are put in their proper perspective through consideration of the historical background of each region, cultural influences and the significance of each dance in the village, especially in relation to religious or social celebrations and events, such as the Easter ceremonies or weddings.
GAFS frequently offers lectures, presentations, costume exhibitions, festivals and special events, such as wedding re-enactments, for the general public. In addition, it organizes special workshops and seminars in which acclaimed folklorists and teachers are invited from Greece and North America to present their work and pass on their knowledge and expertise to folklore enthusiasts.
The long-term plans of the Greek American Folklore Society include the formation of a Greek Folk Museum that would house a permanent exhibition of authentic folk costumes and other artifacts. The Museum would also include a library that would contain printed and audiovisual material and would serve as a source of information to whoever is interested in learning more about our heritage and folk traditions.
«So the well educated man will be able both to sing and dance well.»