St. Luke Orthodox Church 1981 - 1999
Over the years, the Gypsy Folk Ensemble has performed at a number of chuch festivals. In particular, Gypsy had a long and beneficial relationship with St. Luke Orthodox Church in Garden Grove. Our appearances at the international festivals sponsored by the church cover most of the early history of our dance group.
According to the church website, the first steps were taken to create an Orthodox Church in Orange County, California in 1958. The next year, St Luke was formed from a varied group of Orthodox families - Russian, Syrian, Greek, Serbian and others. The first church was founded in 1961 and the buildings at the present location in Garden Grove, California were built over a period of years before the final phase opened in 1973. An International Festival was begun, probably in 1971, as a showcase for the new church. The Gypsy Folk Ensemble first performed at the St Luke International Festival in 1981 and the company was a presence at the festival until 1999, after which it was discontinued.
Our appearances at St Luke were an important part of the early history of the Gypsy Folk Ensemble. At a time when our primary focus was on programs in schools, this gave us an opportunity to perform for adult audiences and to develop and premiere new material. We have great memories from this period (the wonderful food being one of them) and our thanks go out to all the staff and congregation at St Luke for the opportunity to perform there for so many years.
[Below is a collage of snapshots from our various appearances at St Luke over a number of years]
Hungarian Women's Dance
Romanian Dance "Briul"
Russian Line Dance
At upper left, in Arabic costume, is our MC and contact at St. Luke, Ernie Simon