By Peter E. Preovolos
SAN DIEGO, CA – The 2017 Fold Dance and Choral Festival (FDF) has come and gone. Has much changed in its 41-year history? The answer is both yes and no.
Let me start by saying that it warms my heart to know that FDF remains alive and well. After spending the first 35 years at its helm and the last six as a proud observer, I still get emotional watching the dancers. The dancers at every age, from four years to 50 and older, dance with such enthusiasm and excitement. From my perspective the quality of the performances has significantly improved over the years.
Watching my granddaughters Litsa, Ellie, NS Penny, and their teammates dance gave me a special thrill. Knowing the hours of hard work they have devoted to the program makesme proud. I recall the years when my three sons Thanasi, Nick, and Spiro danced at FDF. Now the children and grandchildren of those that danced at FDF 41 years ago are carrying on the tradition today, and their parents and grandparents are watching, dancing and directing. What an amazing legacy!
Stunning Senior Performances
This year,each team in the Advanced Senior category performed at a world-class level. The amount of research and training that each of the Advanced Senior teams put into their performances was amazing.
The teams from Las Vegas, NV and Novato in Marin County, CA truly moved me. Las Vegas performed an incredible Pontian suite, including the Ancient Greek ritual dance, Momogeri, which has seldom been seen in all of FDF’s 41-year history. Their execution, style, costuming, and staging were magnificent. The Minoan Dancers from Marin County’s Cretan suite was one of the finest I have seen the group perform.
What has changed about FDF over the years?
In my opinion, the Grand Banquet was far from grand. There were way too many speeches! Certainly, we need to recognize the people who contribute to the church and the program. But the speeches were too many and too long, and detracted from the energy of the event.
While we had a lovely video message from His All Holiness Bartholomew, the noise level made it difficult to appreciate his message. I would suggest playing a message like this between rounds of the dance competition, when many groups need 15 to 20 minutes to get set up. It would catch a lot more people’s attention and fill the wait time between groups.
Judging is an area that has caused concern over the years. I am glad to see some new judges. The judging process has become quite sophisticated in terms of the use of technology. However, scoring is not a science and judges have their own biases. The best way to minimize biases in judging is to reach out to qualified people in Greece, Canada and Europe to participate as judges. I recognize thatit can be expensive to find new recruits and bring them to FDF. However, with technology it could bepossible for them to cast their votes remotely in real time. With FDF live streaming the performances, the biggest challenge might come from the time-zone differences.
Thanks to All
I am pleased that the inspiration of Metropolitan Anthony still comes across strongly at FDF. I continue to refer to him as my dearest friend, and the “St. Paul of FDF.” Without him, I am certain it would not have grown to its current magnificence.
I close by asking God to bless the parents, the directors and the dancers for this great gift we have been given. God bless those dedicated members of the management team that work so hard each year to make this event go smoothly. Thank you to the Orthodox Church and its clergy that have embraced this ministry and recognized its significant value.
Lastly, I would like to invite the directors and dancers to share their stories. One place to do so is on our website, A Web of Culture. Express your opinions about what it means to be in a Greek dance group and why FDF is important to you. When expressing your thoughts, please remember: Is it kind? Is it truthful? Is it necessary? If you use those three phrases as your guide, your thoughts and comments will truly resonate with feeling and power.
Peter Preovolos is the founder of the Greek Orthodox Folk Dance & Choral Festival (FDF) and Chairman Emeritus of its Board of Trustees.