Sandy Papadopoulos

  Sandy started dancing for the Greek Dance program in Atlanta at the age of 8 under the direction of Eleni Apostolakos Hopes, as well as his father, John Papadopoulos. He was and has been actively involved in the dance program in Atlanta ever since. Over the course of his life he has been active in various Hellenic organizations beyond Greek dancing. He has served on the National Board of the Sons of Pericles, the junior auxiliary of the AHEPA, including being National President. He is currently on the National Lodge of the AHEPS and the National Executive Board of the Pan-Pontian Federation of the United States and Canada. 

    His true passion, when it comes to Greek dancing, is doing research and teaching dances from the region of Pontus in Asia Minor. Both his parents are of Pontic descent, and his father had inspired him to continue his research and teaching within in the small branch of Greek dancing. He has done extensive research in Greece by working with various instructors including Nikos Zournatzidis, Christos Theodoridis, and others in various Pontian Societies throughout Greece. He has also had personal instruction from the 2 people, who he considers his true mentors in Pontian dance- Nikos Zournatzidis and, most importantly, his father, John Papadopoulos, who himself was one of the original Pontic dancers at the Dora Stratou Theater in Athens, Greece. His father not only danced Pontic, but most all dances that the theater performed in the early 1950’s. He is proud to say that he is influenced by, what most consider, the top Pontic instructors in all of Greece, but what Sandy is most proud of is that in 2002 he was able to perform, for the first and last time, with his father on stage at the Metropolis of San Francisco Folk Dance Festival in Spokane, Washington. It was truly inspirational for not only him, but for all of the people that were on stage and in the crowd that day, truly an unforgettable moment in the history of FDF.

     He also successfully organized one of the first Pan-Pontian Cultural and Folkloric Festivals held in June of 2011 in Atlanta. He has brought most every top Pontian musician from Greece to perform in the United States over the past 8 years, and has established amazing friendships with most of these artists, from whom he feels he has gained more knowledge than any other source of Pontian Hellenism. The musicians have amazing insight into what has been established throughout the years of Pontic migration from Asia Minor to Greece, and subsequently throughout the world. Some of the most important influences are in the United States- Christos Tiktapanidis from Norwalk, CT and Ioannis Apazidis from Boston, MA.

Sandy has also directed Levendia from St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church in Anaheim, California from 2009-2010. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Hellenic Dance Festival of the Metropolis of Atlanta, and has helped to successfully organize 2 of the most profitable HDFs to date. Greek Dancing has brought a lot of things into Sandy’s life, one of which was his lovely wife, and current Atlanta dance instructor, Niki Hazifotis Papadopoulos, for if it were not for her, Sandy would not have pushed for the Atlanta dance group, Troupe Hellas, to participate at FDF in 2001. In the 4 times that Atlanta has participated at FDF, Troupe Hellas has come in 1st place in the Advanced Senior category twice, and received the highest honor, the Sweepstakes Award once under his, and Dimitri Papadimitriou’s direction.