The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
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Information: Chris Tasulis, teacher of Greek dance.
Dr. Chris Tasulis was an exciting and talented performer with a passion for his Greek heritage. His love of Greek history, art, music, and dance propelled him to form, not only, the first Greek folk dance group in the Los Angeles area in the early 1950s, but also the first professional exhibition Greek folk dance group in the United States in 1956, called The Hellenic Dancers.
As a member of the Gandy Dancers and The Yosemite Workshop Dancers international dance groups, in his early twenties, he was a natural athlete who excelled with powerful, exact movements demanded of the Russian and Yugoslavian dance suites. During his studies in Optometry at the University of Southern California (USC), he had a chance to form his own first Greek folk dance group made up of GOYANs (Greek Orthodox Youths of America, aged 12 to 25) from the greater Los Angeles area. They performed at USC's International Day and the opening ceremonies of the "It’s a Small World" ride at Anaheim's Disneyland in the mid 1950s. This GOYAN dance group went on to perform throughout Los Angeles at various Greek festivals and functions for several years.
Chris's sense of professionalism and perfectionism led him to strive for more in his passion of Greek dance. The Hellenic Dancers of Los Angeles was created to fulfill his desire to spread the love of Greek dance to the Greek community, its youth, and to non-Greeks as well.
Chris was one of the first teachers of Greek dance in Calfornia, having taught at the Kolo Festival sponsored by John Filcich. He also was instrumental in organizing the Greek Folk Dance Federation of America, boasting nearly a hundred youth groups.
In 1962, his growing family and Chris's successful optometric practice kept him so busy that he brought Athan Karras to Los Angeles from New York in an attempt to keep the Hellenic Dancers a thriving part of the Greek community. Athan was as strong and passionate about Greek music and dance as was Chris. Through Athan's efforts, the group continued and flourished. Subsequent directors, inspired by what Chris and Athan had accomplished, kept the flame of Greek dance alive, as is evident in today's Folk Dance Federation of America competition.
Chris Tasulis died of cancer at the age of 62 on September 10, 1993, in Inglewood, California, leaving behind his wife, Helen Irene Tasulis, and his daughters.
Dances Dr. Tasulis taught included Ais Giorgis, Arvantiko Kofto, Fisouni, Gaida, Gaitani, >Hasaposerviko<, Kerkyreikos, Kofto, Lemonaki, Len Irthe Mais, Mandinades, Mayia, Mermingas, Nisiotiko Syrto, Nizamikos, Partalo, Pentozali, Pera Ston Pera Kambo, Pilalitos, Pogonisios, Pontiakos Hasapikos, Sousta, Syngathistos, Syrtaki, Tsakonikos, Tsirigotikos, Vari Hasapiko, and Zagorisios.
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