Members of Akrites tou Pontou and friends gathered at Normanby House in Thornbury to celebrate Melbourne’s newest Pontian association’s 10th anniversary on Saturday, 12 November.
Established in 2012 the club aims to unite people with a passion for Pontian culture here in Australia through traditional dancing, viewed and performed from the perspectives of 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Greek-Pontian immigrants.
Over 220 guests attended the celebration, including Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta, President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne, Bill Papastergiadis; President of the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia, Peter Stefanidis; representatives of the Consul General of Greece, President of the Justice for Cyprus Committee (SEKA), Tony Kyriakou; representatives from fellow Pontian associations of Sydney and Adelaide, as well members of the Assyrian and Armenian cultural associations.
Former footballer and media personality, Andrew Paschalidis facilitated the event, often reflecting on his own links to the Pontian community in Sydney as well as his personal connection to the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia.
Akrites’ president, Harry Tsairis, reflected on the successes of his club and his rise from traditional Pontian dancer to president of Akrites Tou Pontou. His sentiment was echoed by Bill Papastergiadis who remarked on the special collaborations and performances of the Akrites dance group at the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival over the years.
Mr Papastergiadis stressed the importance of the collaborations the group has forged with Australia’s First Nations people, Armenians, Assyrians and Maoris.
The group has appeared at the Antipodes Festivals for several times, with a standout performance alongside First Nations dancers in 2016, Phoenix of Dreamtime.
That show kicked off a series of cross-cultural collaborations with various groups, most notably the Melbourne Georgian Choir in 2017 and the Maori community in 2018, a performance named Argonauts of the Pacific. Connections were made in shared tragic histories of genocide and uprooting as well as shared experiences of diaspora.
Akrites Tou Pontou received praise for being active across commemorative events of the Greek-Pontian, Assyrian and Armenian Genocides and with their attendance at lectures, ceremonies, conventions interstate and various commemorations every year.
Guests were entertained by the Akrites tou Pontou senior and junior dance group and musos Vasilios Topalidis (vocals) and Rafail Alexandridis (Lyra) from Greece who kept the large crowd entertained. Melbourne’s George Bletas (keyboards) and Theodoros Kostidis (daouli) joined the stage.
To join Acrites tou Pontou visit @Akrites_aus on Instagram or email email@example.com