The annual Stafilia (Grape) Festival took place over the weekend at Panagia Kamariani Greek Orthodox Church in Red Hill.

Taking part in the day’s festivities was the MANASIS School of Greek Dance and Culture, which presented close to 100 senior professional dancers.

Those in attendance were taken on a journey through most of mainland Greece, with a 30-minute, non-stop routine. It started with the haunting sounds of Zournades and Daoulia through the regions of Serres and Drama, then moving into klarina and the traditional demotic dances of Epirus and Thessalia, concluding with gaida bagpipes and the famous brass of Florina and Edessa.

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To conclude, all the dancers stretched out and crossed arms to create a large human chain around the church forecourt plateia and danced the Zonaradikos of Thrace. Then in came a makeshift camel and camel-master, known as the Kamlies kai Divitzides, a New Year custom unique to Thrace (specifically Anatoliki Romilia, which is in modern day Bulgaria and Turkey).

“The custom of Kamiles & Divitzides is one of the most popular dodekaimero and New Year’s customs of Thrace / Anatoliki Romilia. It originates, like almost all of these customs, in antiquity and refers to the feasts in honour of the God Dionysus. After the prevalence of Christianity, the custom was adapted in order to ensure its preservation,” said Director/Instructor Dimosthenis Manasis.

The kefi was set by the dance group and DJ Chris Tsiantoulas, with attendees joining in the fun to kick-start the party.

Father Lefteris Tatsis taking part in the festivities.
The Kamlies kai Divitzides, a New Year custom unique to Thrace, being re-enacted at the festival.

The MANASIS dancers.