Southern California Notes – November 2017

Dr. David Schaberg, Dean of Humanities at UCLA, announced that the University has received a generous $5 million grant from the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation for the establish

UCLA professor Ioanna Kakoulli documents the condition of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine wall paintings in the caves of the St. Neophytos Monastery near Paphos, Cyprus.

ment of the UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture.  Thanks go to Professor Sharon Gerstel in the Department of Art History and Professors Kathryn Morgan, John Papadopoulos and Sarah Morris in the Department of Classics who were instrumental in securing this grant.UCLA will raise an additional $3 million in external funding, which will include engaging with the Greek-American community in Los Angeles and throughout the West Coast.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is one of the world’s leading private, international philanthropic organizations, making grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and sports, and social welfare.

​Alex L​l​au​​​r​​​o is​ now​ full time on his scooter and ​has been ​unable to stand on his own or walk since June.

Jorge Llauro and Valerie Pappas Llauro’s 11-year-old son, Alexander, was diagnosed while in pre-school with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This is a progressive muscle-wasting disease that strikes one in 3,500 boys. They are usually diagnosed by the age of five, in a wheelchair by twelve, and rarely survive into their mid-twenties. There is currently no cure, but for the first time in history there are drugs in the pipeline which in clinical trial have proved promising. Alexander could be among the first survivors of the disease, Valerie informs us.  She added that he goes to a wonderful Catholic school and has many friends who care for him. “USC Trojans have been wonderful to him and have had him at many football practices. They also gave him a football helmet last year – as shown in the photo,” she says.

The Llauro family founded “Walking Strong,” which has raised over $350,000 and has donated $200,000 to research.

Its annual fundraiser, ‘A Night of Strength,’ will take place November 11th at 6.30 p.m. at the Huffington Center, St. Sophia Cathedral. To attend this event, or to donate for this important cause, please visit or email

This month has seen the openings of two movies with Greek themes or by Greek directors:

Killing of a Sacred Deer

KILLING OF A SACRED DEER: The highly esteemed Greek director, Yorgos Lanthimos, has a new film in general release. Written by Lanthimos and Efhymis Filippou, it stars Colin Farrell as Steven, a renowned cardiovascular surgeon presiding over a spotless household with his ophthalmologist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two exemplary children. Lurking at the margins of his idyllic suburban existence is Martin, a fatherless teen whom Steven has taken under his wing. But as Martin begins insinuating himself into the family’s life in increasingly unsettling ways, the full scope of his intent becomes menacingly clear when he confronts Steven with a long-forgotten transgression that will shatter the family’s domestic bliss. It’s no surprise that Lanthimos has crafted a dark, powerful film bristling with unsettling humor and creeping dread, and steeped in Greek tragedy.

SWING AWAY starring Shannon Elizabeth and Manos Gavras follows professional golfer, Zoe Papadopoulos (Elizabeth) as she travels to her grandparents’ village in Greece in an attempt to escape the harsh spotlight of the international sports world following a world-televised  meltdown that led to her suspension from the LPGA. Between baking bread with her grandparents and attempting to re-learn Greek, she meets and mentors a ten-year-old girl who is determined to become the next golf sensation. Along the way Zoe discovers her Greek heritage, her love of golf and the hidden strength within herself as she inspires the townspeople in an epic showdown against a greedy American developer.


The Kypseli Dance Group has scheduled a tribute to the tsamiko! It will be led by George Papangellin, who traces his family roots to Arkadia and Achaia in the Peloponnese, a region which is the heart and soul of the tsamiko dance. George began dancing in 1974 with the Ionian Dancers, St. Nicolas parish in San Jose, and helped start the Parnassos Dancers for Holy Cross parish, Belmont. Since then he has directed dance groups in Northern California, the Epirus Dancers at St. Nicholas in San Jose and the Kefi Dancers at St. George. Among many other dance projects and festivals, he has served as a dance judge for the California Folk Dance Festival, the Hellenic Dance Festival in Atlanta and the American Greek Dance Competition in Chicago. Five Los Angeles musicians have combined their talents to help him recreate the traditional village music of Greece on Friday, November 10th from 8.30 – 11.30 pm.

The Tango Room, 4346 Woodman Avenue, Sherman Oaks, CA. Admission is $15. No reservations; pay at the door.

 I did the math the other day and realized I’ve been writing this column for 37 years! It’s been a continually delightful experience and I’ve had the honor and pleasure of meeting and writing about an extraordinary range of people in the Greek community. Next month will be my last column.  It will be devoted to memorable Christmas experiences in Greece, so if you have a story please contact me at



Email the author: Mavis Manus

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