UPLIFT was the theme of the 2018 Folk Dance and Choral Festival (FDF) and the meaning of that word was evident throughout the event which was held from January 11 – 14, 2018 at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, California. Hands were uplifted in dance, old and new friends uplifted each other’s’ spirits, and hearts and voices were uplifted in prayer.
With 108 dance and choral groups participating, the 42nd Annual FDF welcomed over 3,000 registrants plus additional spectators who enthusiastically watched the dancing and singing over the weekend. This year’s FDF was one of the largest ever and demonstrates the dynamism of this ministry, also known as a weekend of Faith, Dance and Fellowship.
“The experience of FDF is hard to encapsulate into words. This year’s event was bigger and better, thanks to the hard work of the FDF Board and Management Team, but also to the parents, directors, clergy and everyone who made this gathering possible,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. “When I look out at the thousands of youth and their families attending FDF, it gives me great hope for the future of our Church to see such dedication and love for our faith and heritage.”
On Thursday afternoon, FDF continued its partnership with the Metropolis Philoptochos in a group Diakonia project, assembling 500 personal hygiene bags which were donated to Compass Family Services, an agency that has been serving the homeless population in San Francisco for over 100 years. This was an excellent opportunity to invest in the local community and this annual tradition will continue for many years to come.
A special video message to welcome the FDF participants from His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, was shown on Thursday evening at Opening Ceremonies. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew offered a congratulatory message at the beginning of the Awards Ceremony on Sunday evening.
Two full days of competition on Friday and Saturday did not fatigue the participants or the judges. The excitement – the kefi – in the hallways, on the escalators and throughout the hotel was evident by the smiles, laughter, embraces and endless cheering of each group as they competed during the weekend.
Sunday afternoon’s coveted competition in the Advanced Senior category did not disappoint as the ballroom was filled with eager spectators watching these top nine groups perform their final suites. Stunning performances were presented by parishes from California, Hawaii, Arizona and Washington.
Even though the days were full of competition, the participants still had energy to dance into the night. Friday evening’s Glendi featured regional musicians and turned the ballroom into one big dance floor where the youth and young adults joined hands and made new friends as people who just love Greek folk dance and enjoy being together to celebrate their faith and culture.
Saturday evening featured an energetic performance by popular Greek singer, Giorgos Tsalikis. FDF participants were clamoring at the stage, singing along with Tsalikis, taking selfies, and dancing to his rhythmic music.
A variety of workshops were held throughout the day on Friday and Saturday, led by Metropolis clergy, ministry leaders, seminarians and youth workers. The topics addressed contemporary issues facing our youth and provided encouragement for their spiritual development. Other workshops were offered by the Metropolis Family Wellness Ministry and the Metropolis Missions and Evangelism Ministry. Rounding out the topics were workshops on Byzantine Chant, and the benefits of learning Greek as a second language.
The Divine Liturgy on Sunday was celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas of the Dardanelles, with over 25 clergy participating. Special guest to FDF, Rev. Dr. Christopher Metropulos, President of Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, addressed the congregation at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, and through the generosity of the faithful, a donation of $10,000 was offered to our beloved school and seminary.
The Awards Ceremony on Sunday evening included a special presentation to His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas of the Dardanelles as the 2018 recipient of the Metropolitan Anthony Humanitarian Award. Metropolitan Nikitas is a distinguished hierarch of the Ecumenical Throne whose work for the church both in the United States and abroad is marked with notable accomplishment. He also currently serves as the Coordinator of the Patriarchal Committee on Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery, and is the Chairman of the Committee on Youth for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Elios Charitable Foundation has been a longtime supporter of FDF and honored Archon Byron Scordelis with the 2018 Elios Award of Excellence. Scordelis has a most noteworthy career as President and CEO of the Greater Bay Bancorp and former President of the San Francisco Bay Area Region with Wells Fargo Bank. Scordelis is also active at his parish of Saint Nicholas in San Jose, CA and serves the Metropolis as a member of the All Saints Foundation Board of Directors.
Dance awards were given out in eight divisions, as well as Choral awards in two divisions. The Sweepstakes winners with the overall highest scores in their respective categories were: Choral Competition: Aloha Youth Choir from Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Honolulu, HI; Division II Dance: Minoan Dancers 2 from the Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, Novato, CA; Division I Dance: Olympian Dancers from the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Long Beach, CA.
Congratulations to the FDF Executive team of Rev. Father Gary Kyriacou – Chairman, Spiro Beckas – Vice Chairman, and Michael Syrengelas – Finance Director, for their outstanding leadership during the planning process. Special thanks also to the 2018 Managing Director Paul Mantas who led a group of more than 40 young adults who coordinated all aspects of FDF including registration, logistics, stage management, workshops, security, events, marketing and many other aspects that made FDF 2018 an uplifting experience for all who participated! Visit the FDF You Tube channel to watch the competition and witness the vibrancy of this ministry. A complete list of winners can be found below. For more information, visit yourfdf.org.
— By Kristen Bruskas
Email the author: The Hellenic Journal