This year, the children will not only sing in Greek, Bulgarian, Turkish, Croatian, and English… but they will also dance! Our children’s directors Kat Toton and Jenni Voorhees (along with children’s stage manager, Emilie Moore) couldn’t do all of this without help from our amazing specialists and tradition-bearers.
Last Wednesday, the kids had a visit from Olga Vonikaki who taught them the Greek podaraki dance, and I was lucky enough to get to watch the process. The children worked hard (and had lots of fun) learning the new dance–one of three that they will perform in the show. During previous rehearsals, Larry Weiner (another of this year’s tradition-bearers) taught the children two other dances for the show.
Olga is the perfect teacher for our Washington Revels kids. She was born in Kavala, Greece, where she studied Greek dancing and performed with many groups across the country. Since moving to the the US more than twenty years ago, she has been teaching Greek traditional dancing, specializing in leading children’s dance groups, one of which won the silver prize at the East Coast Greek Youth Competition.
Our Christmas Revels children range in age from 8-11, and come from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Each year in September, we select about 14-16 from the total of 60+ who audition. And, in addition to selecting children for The Christmas Revels, we also select 25 additional children for our May Revels chorus. The kids begin rehearsing in mid-September on Wednesday afternoons and join the Adult and Teen choruses during one weekend rehearsal in October, and another in November. Soon after that, in December, everyone will be together each and every night for an entire week.
These kids are looking and sounding great already… and soon they will be fully costumed by Cecily Pilzer (their own costume designer)! The children usually “steal the show” each year, and this one will likely be no exception.