One of the highlights of the Pensacola Greek Festival
each year is watching the dancers and then joining them on
the dance floor. Two groups of youth dancers perform – the
younger group is called Hara which means Joy in
Greek. The middle and high school group is called the
Glenzethes which means Merry Makers. They perform three
sets on Friday and Sunday and five on Saturday. Specific
times are listed on the festival
The youth of the Annunciation Parish have been performing
folk dances for many years. Initially Greek dance lessons
were incorporated into the Greek language and culture
classes taught to the children by a long-time member of the
parish, Mrs. Mitsa Morres, starting in 1964. The formal
youth dance program was started in 1984 when the state of
Florida provided a grant to promote cultural arts in the
state. The first dance group had 16 high school students –
some who are now parents and teachers of our current
The dancers practice weekly for 3 months to prepare for
their festival performances. In addition to attending
practices and learning the dances, each dancer has
stewardship requirements that include attending church
services and Sunday School and participating in the youth
program and associated service projects.
Each of the girls in the Glenzethes group has two costumes.
One is a unique handmade costume that is representative of
the region of the Greece that her family is from. The other
is a costume from the Cyclades Islands that is a blue velvet
jacket and skirt trimmed in gold, with a wide sash and
The dance instructor for the Glenzethes is a parishioner who is a graduate of this dance program.
Elizabeth Varvouris Gilmore
is the girls' dance instructor. Liz has a degree in Culinary Management
from PJC and works in her family restaurant, Aegean Breeze.
The dancers learn 20 different dances and perform four or
five dances per set during the festival with the girls
alternating costumes between sets. Audience members
participate by clapping hands and throwing money at the
dancers. The old tradition of breaking dishes on the floor
at Greek parties is no longer practiced but audience members
often shout “Opa!” and throw money on the floor to show
their appreciation of the band and the dancers.
After the dance troupe completes their set, audience members
usually rush out to the dance floor to join in the fun.
Beginners and experts can dance together, as the basic steps
are fairly easy to learn.
Guidelines for Greek Dancing
Everyone is invited on the dance floor. If this
is your first festival or your first time on the
dance floor, don’t be nervous. Just get out there
and grab the hand of the person next to you in line
and follow their footsteps. To help newcomers learn
the basic steps, the Pensacola The Kalamatiano, Syrto and the Tsamiko are all
line dances that do not require partners or previous
A few Greek dances are danced as couples or solo, but
most are performed in a line which moves to the right. The
leader has their right hand free and calls the steps. Never
join the line at the front unless you are offered the lead
and know the dance. A good leader will put on a show, adding
variations to the steps and dancing side by side with the
person next to them.
Beginners should join at the end of the line. Experienced
dancers may break in the middle to dance with their friends
or so that they are not at the end tripping over children
and beginners. If someone offers you a hand, accept it and
follow their feet.
History of Greek Folk Dances and Descriptions of Glenzethes Dances