ATLANTA, Ga. – More than 1,500 participants gathered Jan. 18-21 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis to celebrate the 19th annual Hellenic Dance Festival (HDF). The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta sponsored the weekend and welcomed performing groups from across the country. It was the largest festival in the event’s history.
Father Sampson Kasapakis, Co-Chair of the Festival Implementation Team, remarks, “We want to thank and congratulate the youth and young adults for their passion towards their tradition and faith, and especially their parents and grandparents for nurturing and prioritizing culture and faith in their lives, which has made this a true family event. The vision of HDF created by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, continued by the HDF Executive committee, the Festival Implementation Team, and participants from all over the country year after year has become such a success, and we now look forward to celebrating our 20th Anniversary in 2020.”
The weekend kicked off with a lively opening ceremony featuring an Agiasmos and roll call of participating communities. Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, assistant Bishop of the Metropolis of Atlanta, gave the opening remarks. Forty participating groups presented traditional Greek folk songs and dances in two rounds of competition over Saturday and Sunday. A prestigious, international panel of 10 dance judges and two costume judges was on hand to score and critique the performances. Over half of the presentations featured live music provided by musicians from the U.S. and Greece.
In addition to competition, groups attended spiritual workshops centered around the weekend’s theme of “JOY” and celebrated Divine Liturgy together on Sunday morning. The event culminated on Sunday evening with participants walking the red carpet into a black tie, Oscar-themed awards ceremony. Both Saturday and Sunday evenings capped off with live music and dancing into the night. Live music for the glendia was provided by Endasi, Methorios, and Petros Saridakis.
Platinum (first place) medals were awarded to the following groups in each of six competitive categories: Primary: Glentzedes (Knoxville, Tenn.), Junior: Oi Dopyoi (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Advanced Junior: Ellinopoula (Hampton Roads, Va.), Intermediate: Armonia (Charlotte, N.C.), Senior: Orpheus Nea Genia (Metropolis of Chicago), Advanced Senior: Enosis (Hampton Roads, Va.).
For a full list of award recipients and for more information about the weekend and the mission of HDF, visit www.hellenicdancefestival.com. The HDF Executive Committee and Festival Implementation Team are preparing for their 20th Anniversary event, to be held Jan. 17-20 in Orlando, Fla.
Our Hellenic Dance Festival, based on the vision and dream of His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, began in 2000. Traveling from city to city throughout our Metropolis, the Hellenic Dance Festival has grown into a true family event. Held on the MLK Jr. weekend, it allows for participants to travel and join together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our religion, our Greek language, and our culture help us maintain our identity as Hellenes. The need for our communities to perpetuate our culture, along with the philosophy of ancient Greece and the Olympic spirit of “a healthy mind in a healthy body” were instrumental in the vision by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios to establish this Hellenic Dance Festival for the youth and families of our Metropolis.