Hip Hop Organizer Tolis Aristeidou Returns to LA

Tolis Aristeidou

Tolis Aristeidou of Greece will return to Los Angeles February 22-26
as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Gold Stars’ Tour. The International Visitors Council of Los Angeles (IVCLA) arranged his initial visit to Los Angeles in 2009 as an IVLP participant, making connections that included meetings with Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy (JUiCE) and DVA Media + Marketing.

During his return visit to Los Angeles, Aristeidou will reunite with some of the connections that made an impact on his work back home, as well as meet with new professional resources in Los Angeles. In addition, he will visit local high schools to talk about his important work bringing hip-hop to underprivileged youth throughout Greece and the Balkans.

Aristeidou is the director and exclusive organizer of the Balkan Break Dance Competition “Battle of the Year – Balkans.” Aristeidou is well-connected to the youth community in Greece and urban street culture phenomena. He understands and connects to young people, often underserved and inner city groups,
through new and innovative ways. He organizes events to bring together young people from all over the Balkans, promoting mutual understanding and tolerance for other cultures. In his role as director, he is the main developer for break dance events and festivals in Greece and the Balkans. His office also organizes dance seminars, film screenings, dance-theater events, hip hop concerts, graffiti exhibits, and other events related to the hip hop culture.

The counterparts he met in the U.S. in 2009 have almost all become close contacts that he reaches out to for events and ideas. In particular, his meeting with the representative of Hip Hop International (the organizers of the largest and most prominent international Hip Hop dancing competition in the world) resulted in an immediate partnership between the two companies. Within a year after his return to Greece, Tolis organized the first Hip Hop International – Greece competition in Athens, with a record 25 dance groups participating and competing – this included groups from across Greece as well as Cyprus. With the support of the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Tolis brought top American Hip Hop dancers Eddie Styles and King Saso to judge the competition. The top two groups went to Las Vegas last summer to represent Greece for the first time in the Hip Hop International competition. This came just six months after he brought top U.S. breakers Bboy Ronnie and Rockadile to judge a national Greek breakdance contest and lead a workshop that also promoted healthy, drug-free living. His IVLP program also connected him with some of the top Hip Hop impresarios in the U.S. leading to a constant stream of American talent being invited to participate in his events.

The Gold Stars’ Tour is for alumni of the IVLP who made an impact in their community or on the world as a result of their experience in the United States. Aristeidou has been selected as one of two gold star alumni among thousands of nominated individuals. Through this special initiative, IVLP gold star alumni are recognized for their excellence as citizen diplomats through IVLP-inspired initiatives abroad and for demonstrated leadership in their local communities.

About the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)
The International Visitor Leadership Program is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program, connecting current and emerging foreign leaders with their American counterparts through short-term programs to build mutual understanding on foreign policy issues. Nearly 200,000 distinguished individuals have participated in the program, including 330 current and former Chiefs of State and Heads of Government, and thousands of leaders from the public and private sectors.

About the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles (IVCLA)
IVCLA has been working since 1980 to increase international understanding and communication in the Los Angeles area by arranging personal exchanges between emerging international leaders and the citizens of the Los Angeles region. IVCLA coordinates programs for participants in the U.S. Department of State sponsored International Visitor Leadership Program, as well as other publicly and privately sponsored international visitors. The programs provide the visitors with insight on how we live and work,
and local Citizen Diplomats with a better understanding about the rest of the world.