An authentic experience: Traditional favorites served up at annual Greek fest

The dancers will perform 38 different dances, although they know more than 200, during the festival, which will feature four shows.

A professional dance troupe, which began as a group of teens from the church, will perform throughout the day.

The group travels the country performing traditional Greek dances in costume.

"We love being involved in the church and learning about our culture," said Evan Euripidou, church vice president, who dances with the group.

Each folk dance costume holds a significance that represents the dancer.

From the traditional costumes, it is possible to tell in which part of Greece the individual lives because the types of fabrics used are representative of different climates. The amount of gold trim on a woman's costume represents her wealth. Women also wear a gold chain with coins, which signifies the amount of dowry a suitor would receive if he were to marry the woman, according to Euripidou. The costumes also depict whether or not a woman is wed, Euripidou said.

Each costume can take up to 12 hours to complete, said Elaine Euripidou, who works with several other women and some of the dancers to make the traditionally accurate folkwear.

The Greek community extends beyond Schenectady into areas of Troy and Albany, where some of the dancers attend church.

Another component of the festival is the Greek singing. A group of seniors from the church has organized the music portion. A choir will perform each night of the festival. Three of the seniors will accompany the chorus on mandolins, which are commonly used in music from the Crete Island in Greece.

"We try to learn how the music relates to dance," said Euripidou.

Behind the event is an active church community, which transcends generations to preserve the traditional Greek culture defined by their ancestors.

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