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CommunityThe Greek Orthodox Folk Dance and Choral Festival Celebrates Forty Years in...

The Greek Orthodox Folk Dance and Choral Festival Celebrates Forty Years in Anaheim, CA

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By: Eirene Glyptis, West Coast Senior Correspondent

Special to the Hellenic News of America

The annual Greek Orthodox Folk Dance and Choral Festival, known as FDF, celebrated its 40th Anniversary in Anaheim, California on February 11-14th. Over the span of four days, Greek dance and choral groups from across the United States proudly performed routines modeled after traditional dances and songs from various regions in Greece. The event was a huge success, with well over 2,500 registrants, and special guests from the cast of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”, as well as performances by singers Dimitris Basis, Master Tempo, Eleftheria Eleftheriou, and DJ Krazy Kon. The dancing participants vary in age, some starting at just three-years-old, and others over 50. Dancers dedicate countless months preparing to compete for medals in their age division, however, FDF embodies more than pure competition. It is a coming together to celebrate the Greek heritage and Orthodox faith that binds all Greek-Americans.

Sotiria and Eirene Glyptis

FDF is unlike any other event because it fosters an environment where people become one giant Greek family. The love and support for one another can be felt all weekend long. Lifelong friendships are formed among youth and adults from different parishes across the country, which unifies Greek-American people. It is inspiring to witness young children cultivate a deep and genuine passion for Greek dancing. These children make their entire community proud, and they appreciate the same dances their grandparents grew up enjoying. By learning difficult dances from all over Greece, the Greek-Americans at FDF perpetuate and celebrate dances that symbolize the core of Hellenism, which could have been lost throughout the ages. From a historical standpoint, each dancer, no matter how old, is a custodian of Greek history. The dance directors extensively research all aspects of the villages, and teach their students about the people, clothing, trademarks, songs, and dances of those villages. Thus, even if these villages modernize, or the people in the village slowly stop passing down their dances, there are many Greek-American children and adults keeping the spirit of those villages alive forever.

Master Tempo with Christina Karatzas, Eirene Glyptis and Aphrodite Kotrotsios

As a dancer myself in the Panegiri Dance Group from St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Church in Pasadena, California, I am proud to have been a part of FDF throughout the years. Attending dance practices in preparation for the competition is a pleasure because the long hours of working closely with friends for a common goal brings everyone together. The friendships I have made along the way mean more than any medal. It is special to see the excitement on everyone’s faces as they are about to perform, and watching as the FDF glendia last until 5:30 A.M because everyone is having too much fun dancing to go to sleep. The spontaneous group hugs and bouts of laughter signify the love the participants all share for their heritage. Tears run down parents’ faces as they watch their children dance, and hearing a “Yiayia,” just like your own, ask her grandchildren if they have eaten enough that day reminds you just how similar we all are. That is what FDF is- an entire weekend of being with people you love, and people that are just like you. It is the one weekend of the year where we are surrounded solely by thousands of Greek-Americans that share the same Christian faith and morals as ourselves. I hope future generations are able to have this experience because FDF has been one of the highlights of my youth and adulthood.

Panegiri Dance Group in Thessalia Costumes
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Pyrkagia Dance Group on Stage

 

Panegiri and Spitha Dance Groups

 

Master Tempo Concert

 

Panegiri Dance Group

 

Christina Karatzas, Eirene Glyptis, and John Rigas

 

Pyrkagia Dancers in Thessalia Costumes

 

Photos are courtesy of:  Kathy Tsigounis, Sotiria Glyptis, and John Rigas

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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