top of page

It Takes A Village

Anagenisis Dancers from Oakland, CA receive handmade costumes from Gratini, Greece

Oakland Greek Festival enthusiasts are in for a visual treat this year when the three-day festival kicks off on May 15th in the Oakland hills. After all, you can’t entertain and feed hundreds of visitors without advanced preparation and this year is no exception, until it comes to the Anagenisis (rebirth) Greek folk dancers who took it to a new level.

The second youngest of the festival’s dance troupes (7-9 year olds) have been busy preparing for its first

Gratini from the Rhodope region of Thrace, Greece

competition at the 44th annual Folk Dance and Choral Festival ( which takes place in Anaheim, CA February 13-16. FDF draws over 2,500 youth along with live musicians from throughout the country and regions of Greece as they compete for gold medals and pride for their communities. More than 100 dance groups participate and awe the 3,000 attendees along with a streaming audience that includes fans from Greece and throughout the world.

In preparing for this year’s event, the Anagenisis directors enlisted the help of traditional Greek dance teacher Joseph Graziosi who is based in Massachusetts. He introduced the directors to dances from the village of Gratini which is from the Rhodope region of Thrace in Greece.

Since the dancers are judged by the authenticity of their set from the steps to the music to the costumes, the research involved is serious. That led one of the mothers, Liza Koukkou of Moraga, on a Facebook mission where she discovered a cultural education association of the women of Gratini.

Anagenisis girls costume from Gratini, Greece
Anagenisis boys costume from Gratini, Greece

Koukkou contacted the organization via FB Messenger and the new journey began. “We were congratulated for our web page and they told us they were specifically interested in tradition, customs, and village costumes,” Garyfalos Zougas, the FB page administrator told in a featured article about the outreach from Oakland. Zougas contacted Arhondoula Karageorgiou, the president of the association, regarding the dance group’s interest and a new relationship was born.

The ladies of the village offered to make the costumes for the ten girls and nine boys as well as record songs for them to learn. Zougas then emailed the songs and video of the children of Gratini dancing in the same costumes the ladies were making for Anagenisis. He also included photos of the women dying the fabric, sewing the costumes, and packaging them to mail to the U.S. The costumes arrived safely at Oakland’s Ascension Cathedral on January 16th to the excitement of the group, its parents, and directors.

“We are blessed and excited for our dance group to be enhancing the knowledge of their culture and using

Ladies from Gratini prepare costumes to mail to Oakland, CA

authentic Greek costumes made by these fantastic women in Greece,” said Athanasia Yfantis, who together with Maria Fakaros Woods and Anastasia Woods direct Anagenisis. reported that Zougas was visibly moved that Thracian culture would travel to the U.S. “Our club’s purpose is to preserve and transmit our culture to the next generations.”

Armed with new homemade costumes, traditional songs, dance steps, and kefi (spirit), Anagenisis welcomes its first Greek folk dance competition with the loving support of the entire village of Gratini.

FDF is dedicated to the promotion of the Orthodox faith, Greek heritage and culture by expressing it through folk dance, folk art, music, and language. In addition to Oakland, the Bay Area’s Greek communities will send dancers from San Francisco, San Jose, Marin, Castro Valley, Concord, and Belmont. For more information and to stream the FDF competition along with the village of Gratini, visit Opa!

WEEKEND SCENE. Eric Benét through Sunday, Van Morrison Monday-Wednesday at Yoshi’s Jack

London Square Oakland, yoshis.comBachata Nightz Thursday, Stu Allen and Mars Hotel Friday, School of Rock Saturday, The Qadim Ensemble Sunday at Ashkenaz

Paula West

Berkeley, www.ashkenaz.comJim Cordiss Friday, Saturday at Zio Fraedo’s Pleasant Hill, www.ziofraedos.comMarc Levine, Wayne Fettig, Gerry Kennett Friday at the Marriott Walnut Creek … Mario Hodge Thursday, KevOnStage Friday-Sunday at Tommy T’s Comedy Club Pleasanton, tommyts.comPaula West through February 16 at Feinstein’s at the Nikko San Francisco,

TAHOE SPOTLIGHT. Harrah’s Lake Tahoe welcomes the Dark Star Orchestra February 16 at 7:30 p.m. for a night of Grateful Dead love. For over 20 years, DSO has been honoring the band and its fans showcasing the Dead’s music throughout the country as well as Europe, the Caribbean, and more. "For us it's a chance to recreate some of the magic

Dark Star Orchestra

that was created for us over the years," keyboardist and vocalist Rob Barraco shares on the band’s website "We offer a sort of a historical perspective at what it might have been like to go to a show in 1985, 1978 or whenever. Even for Deadheads who can say they've been to a hundred shows in the 90s, we offer something they never got to see live." Before heading to Tahoe, the band’s Winter Tour 2020 takes them to appearances in Washington, Oregon, and Chico. Then it’s down to The Warfield February 14-15 in San Francisco where they will recreate the February 14, 1970 Fillmore East Show commemorating its 50th anniversary. For tickets and more information to the Harrah’s South Shore Roomperformance, call 800-427-7247 or visit

Frosene will be back with you again Thursday, February 20, 2020.

bottom of page