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Byzantio LogoByzantio

Established in 2012, the Byzantio Greek Dance and Cultural Arts Program is dedicated to promoting, encouraging, and perpetuating Greek heritage and culture through folk dance, art, music, and song. Based in the Greater Metropolitan DC area and affiliated with the St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Falls Church, VA, Byzantio teaches its participants the art and history of Greek folk dance, song, music, and costume, and prepares them for opportunities to share and perform in the local community and beyond.

For the 2013 Christmas Revels in Washington, DC, Echoes of Thrace, the recently established and talented adult group will represent the dances of Greek Thrace. The Byzantio Greek Dance and Cultural Arts Program and the adult group are led by Directors Aris and Anna Yortzidis.

Aris Yortzidis

Anna and Aris YortzidisAris has been Greek folk dancing since 1982. Originally from southern California, he was an active member of the dance program at his parish in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey, CA. He also performed with various groups in southern California. In 1987, he began competing at the Diocese (now Metropolis) of San Francisco’s Greek Orthodox Folk Dance and Choral Festival (FDF). Until his departure from southern California in August 2000, Aris taught six dance groups at three different Greek Orthodox parishes.

Aris began to research Greek dance intensively in 1995. His success as a dance director earned him the Metropolis of San Francisco FDF Directors Scholarship from the FDF Board of Trustees in 1996. This scholarship allowed him to attend a seminar where he learned dances of the region of Serres (Eastern Macedonia) at Loutra, near Sidirokastro, Serres. After the seminar, Aris continued his tour by researching the dances and traditions of his father’s village of Chrysochorafa (Greek Thracian Gagauz), also in Serres and the Vlachs of Serres. He finished his tour that summer by researching dances of Pontos (Black Sea region) in Serres and Katerini (where his mother is from), and in Thessaloniki. This work earned him FDF’s “Director of the Year” Award in 1997.

Aris has attended seminars in Greece and the United States and has been fortunate to work with highly esteemed Greek folk dance experts from Greece, the United States, and Canada. He has developed a broad knowledge of the dances of Thrace, Macedonia, the islands, and other regions of Greece. He has taught and presented his research and work at seminars and has served as a Greek dance consultant to groups across the United States and Canada. Aris has also served as a judge at several Greek folk dance events and competitions in the United States (Metropolis of San Francisco FDF; Hellenic Dance Festival, Metropolis of Atlanta; America’s Greek Dance Competition, Chicago, IL), and in South America (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and South America).

Aris has received a B.A. in International Studies and a B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine. He also received his M.A. in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Anna Yortzidis

Anna has been Greek folk dancing since 1991. Anna is a native of Newport News, Virginia and was an active member of the dance program at her parish of Saints Constantine and Helen. In 2001, she became the head director and choreographer for all five dance groups at Sts Constantine and Helen. She continued directing these groups until moving to the Northern Virginia area in 2007. She continues to act as a consultant in her former parish and continues to compete and perform with her original dance group, Enosis. Anna has performed in numerous events including the Virginia International Tattoo, and has competed in the Metropolis of New Jersey Folk Dance Festival, The Atlanta Metropolis Hellenic Dance Festival, and the Metropolis of San Francisco Folk Dance Festival.

Anna has received a B.A. in English from James Madison University and her M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Old Dominion University.

Aris and Anna are also the proud parents of their beautiful two-year-old daughter, Asimina (dancer in training).

For more information about Byzantio, you can email Aris and Anna at greekdancedc@gmail.com.

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