Karavokiros Keeps Mobile Dancing to OPA!

For more than 20 years, Mike Karavokiros, a chemical engineer at Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, has honored his Greek identity by making sure that Greek dancing remains alive in Mobile, Alabama. His students will host a dance during Greek Fest, Nov. 1-3 at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

Karavokiros learned the dances while growing up in his small Greek community in Tarpon Springs, Fla. When he moved to Mobile he started passing it along, and hasn’t stopped since then. He teaches dances from all over Greece – the mainland, the smaller islands and Crete.

“Some of the dances are quicker and have a lot of more intricate steps. We’ll dance along with the band. Some are as easy as a 1-2-3-kick.” he said.

Over the years during performances, he’s seen a few wardrobe malfunctions, with sashes and belts going astray. And speaking of occupational hazards, audiences will want to be alert for the “old sponge diver,” or “mihanikos” dance, which tells the touching story of an elderly, infirmed sponge diver who’s remembering the energetic days of his youth.

This dance comes from the island of Kalymnos, off the coast of Turkey near Rhodes, Karavokiros explained. The island produced many of Tarpon Springs’ sponge divers who became famous for their skills.

“He’s got a cane, and he’s very somber and sad, but then the dance picks up and it’s lively and happy, recalling the days of his youth.He’s twirling the cane around – I’m always afraid he’s going to hit somebody – but so far we’ve been lucky.”(source:Al.com)