Episode 5

Meet Us on the Dance Floor: Getting to Know Gabby and Niko

Published on: 18th July, 2023

Gabriella Papatzimas, born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, has always had a strong connection to her Greek heritage. Growing up in the Greek community at Holy Trinity in Phoenix, she embraced the language, culture, and traditions from an early age. As a first-generation Greek-American, Gabriella’s first language is Greek, and she takes immense pride in her roots.

After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Arizona State, Gabriella embarked on a career in Real Estate Tech as a People Manager.She also dedicated her time as a Greek School teacher for 11 years, helping younger generations stay connected to their heritage. When not teaching or working, she dedicated her time to Greek dancing which became a great love of hers from the moment she could walk and has since been immersed in the dance program for 28+ years.

In 2009, she embraced the role of a Greek Dance Instructor (shoutout to her first group, Seismos). Three years later, in 2012, she proudly took her first group to the FDF, accompanied by her godbrother, Niko Panagiotakopoulos, representing Holy Trinity Dance Program - Phoenix. Since then, she has been taking groups to competitions year after year. Building upon her passion, she embarked on a new venture in 2022, joining forces with Evangelos Tsagaris to bringing Arizona representation to HDF with the Assumption Dance Program.

To Gabriella, Greek dancing is more than just a hobby—it is a vital way to preserve and celebrate her heritage. She firmly believes that Greek culture should be cherished and passed down, regardless of where people call home. Through her involvement as an instructor, Gabriella Papatzimas tirelessly works to ensure that Greek traditions thrive by attending workshops in the United States and spending weekends doing research with her co-directors.

Niko Panagiotakopoulos was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where he studied Electrical Engineering and is now a licensed General Contractor. While his father was born in Athens, his grandparents were from Peloponiso in Tripoli, Patras, and Pyrgos keeping him connected to his Greek heritage!

Niko has been involved in greek dancing from a young age at Holy Trinity Cathedral, dancing since he could walk, and being the crazy kid running around his mothers dance practices while she spent years as the program director. Niko’s first FDF was at 8 years old I’m Pasadena and he has only missed one year since then, and started attending HDF as well in 2022! His last year dancing as a student was also his first year as an Instructor in 2011.

Since 2011 Niko has attended many workshops from California to Charlotte, bringing instructors like Joe Graziosi and Jordan Elrod to Phoenix, and visiting Greece every summer seeking out workshops and panegiria. In 2017 Niko took the helm as the Program Director at Holy Trinity and has loved growing his community and keeping his culture alive!

Episode Music: The Anemos Music Project

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About the Podcast

Chronicling Greek and Cypriot folk dance and music.
Chronicling Greek and Cypriot folk dance and music, one episode at a time, with guests from across the globe. Hosted by @mariaseva9 @givi351 and guest cohosts.