Eleni Chakalos teaching students of the Hellenic Dancers of NJ

The name, Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey, has become synonymous with artistic excellence, cultural integrity and dedication to the arts.

The Hellenic Dancers of NJ was founded in 1972, at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Asbury Park, NJ by Eleni Chakalos and her husband, the Very Reverend Father James Chakalos, the parish priest. At the time, the focus of the group was to teach local youngsters of Greek descent the dances and history of their ancestors. What began as a small group of students learning the basic dances of Greece eventually grew into a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization which was incorporated in February 1980.

Over 2000 dancers have passed through Hellenics since its inception in 1972. Some have stayed on as volunteers and instructors, or have become members of the Board of Directors; others have gone on to teach Greek dances to the youth of the various Greek Orthodox churches throughout the state. Over time the troupe has evolved to assume a vital role in the community; has inspired the creation of Greek folk dance groups all over the country, and functions as an integral component in maintaining the tradition of Greek folk dance in America.

Under Master Instructor Eleni Chakalos, who is also executive director, more than 300 dances, songs, and related traditions have been preserved. These are indigenous to mainland Greece, its islands, and Asia Minor, and have been passed on to two generations of Greek Americans and the American public. Their traditional music and folk dance is representative of a cross-section of these diverse regions, past and present. Performed in authentic ethnic dress, the Hellene's wardrobe represents the 20 regions from which the dances originated, including: Macedonia, Thrace, the Peloponnese, Epiros, Roumeli, Crete, Cyprus, the various island groups; and Pontos, Cappadocia, and Ikonion in Asia Minor.