Anaheim, Calif. – by Stavros H. Papagermanos/GOA
The 40th Anniversary of the Folk Dance and Choral Festival (FDF 2016) of the Metropolis of San Francisco concluded Sunday night, Feb. 14, 2016, with the completion of the Finals of the Advance Senior Division and the Awards Ceremony and Banquet, which took place at the Anaheim Convention Center.
The 2016 FDF, held Feb. 11-14, at the Marriott Hotel in Anaheim, Calif., celebrated forty years of faith, dance and fellowship with a record number of groups and participants in attendance. More than 2,500 participants and 1,000 more family members, friends and spectators came from nine states. Participating groups reached 108 of which 98 were dance groups. Thirty-four parishes were represented. It is the largest gathering of Greek-Orthodox young people in the United States and arguably the largest youth festival of traditional Greek dancing in the world.
“FDF is a revelation, it is a phenomenon simply as a dance event but it is more than a dance event and a competition; it has evolved into something much more,” said Archbishop Demetrios of America who attended diligently all FDF events from Friday to Sunday.
“We all know by now what FDF stands for. We know it as the Folk Dance and Choral Festival, but FDF, also means Faith, Dance and Fellowship, and this last letter “F” in FDF stands for fellowship and family. We are trying to impart on the kids who participate, the importance of the family, their family and our Church family, and this is something we have to put all our efforts into,” said Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco speaking about this ministry. “The young people have to know that when they turn their heads towards their parents, those parents will be nurturing, strong and united. So we hope that, through dance and faith, FDF creates this atmosphere of fellowship and a strong family.”
The semi-final competitions in the two divisions and the various category levels were held on Friday and most final performances took place on Saturday. The event is organized and run in an exemplary manner under the guidance of Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco and realized through the tireless efforts of its Board chairman Fr. Gary Kyriacou and his management team.
The enthusiasm is evident and permeates every moment and every hour of FDF. The smiles, the laughter, and the devotion of all the groups, of all involved, young kids, teenagers and young adults, musicians and directors are apparent and undoubtedly genuine. Greek dancing is at its best here because it has been molded together with the Greek Orthodox Faith and has produced an ethos unparalleled in other youth activities.
In the last day of the event, Sunday, Feb. 14, Archbishop Demetrios celebrated the Divine Liturgy, with about 20 priests of the Metropolis of San Francisco concelebrating. Metropolitan Gerasimos and Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, the chancellor of the Metropolis, were prayerfully attending in the altar. The Archbishop elevated Fr. Gary Kyriacou and bestowed upon him the offikion of Economos. Following the Divine Liturgy a memorial service was chanted for Meropolitan Anthony of blessed memory, Bishop Anthimos of blessed memory, departed priests of the Metropolis and founders of FDF.
Soon after the completion of church services, the Advanced Senior Competition began and run through to 6:00 p.m. It featured moving moments of dancing by a “Reunion goup” of individuals who competed in the first three years of FDF as children, and now have children of their own participating in in the same festival 40 years later. In this final competition, ten groups participated performing suites of dances around a theme, or a particular geographic region or village of Greece. The performances are judged on execution, authenticity, costumes, choral and musical standards. All the groups and dancers are also singing as they dance.
The day concluded with the much-anticipated formal Awards Ceremony at which the winners in the various categories in dance, music and choral singing were announced. At the beginning of the gala The Metropolis of San Francisco bestowed the Metropolitan Anthony Humanitarian Award 2016 to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America. The winners in the Advanced Senior Category as announced are: first place to Palio Skolio of Ascention/Holy Trinity, Oakland/San Francisco, Calif.; second place to Thrylos of Holy Trinity, Charlotte, NC; third place to Panegiri of St. Anthony’s, Pasadena, Calif.; fourth place to Oi Antartes of St. John the Baptist, Las Vegas, Nev.; Founders Special Achievement Award to Akrites of St. Demetrios, Seattle, Wash., for their performance of the Makrinitsa dance of Naoussa; the choral award in this category was awarded to Yefira of Sts. Constantine and Helen, Cardiff-by-the Sea, Calif.; and the Costume Award to Akrites of St. Demetrios, Seattle, Wash.
The Sweepstakes awards (best overall) for Division I dance was awarded to Olympian Dancers of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Long Beach, Calif.; for Division II dance was awarded to Atromiti (advanced junior category) of St. John the Baptist, Anaheim, Calif.; and finally for the Choral competition, the Sweepstakes award went to Fotisi of St. George, Fresno, Calif. A complete listing of the winners is posted on the FDF website: www.yourfdf.org