Peter Stefanidis is proud to be Pontian and feels an excitement about the upcoming Synapantema Pontion 2010 which is taking place in Wollongong for three days this coming weekend.
Pontians from across Australia will gather in ‘the Gong,’ one hour south of Sydney, to take part in a 3-day program of educational, cultural and social activities which will celebrate all things Pontian.
Peter Stefanidis is clear about the significance of Synapantema; “Synapantema literally means a gathering of people. Making new friends or re-acquainting with old ones is the prime focus of the Synapantema” he said.
“Knowing there are many more young people like you, just as passionate, throughout Australia, gives a young person the comfort that he or she is not alone; that they belong to a bigger family” he added.
The special guest at the Synapantema will be Nikos Zournatzidis who was for many years the leader of the Pontian dance at the renowned Dora Stratou Dance Theatre in Athens.
Zournatzidis will lead two workshops in Pontian dancing on the Saturday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The presence of Zournatzidis is “crucial to the success of the event”, according to Stefanidis.
“We are under no illusion that a young person’s first introduction to Pontian Culture is dance. Young people are fascinated by it and for good reason; it is unique, it promotes team spirit, it has a beauty and passion that is steeped in antiquity and above all, it’s a lot of fun.”
Nikos Zournatzidis is the pre-eminent authority Pontian Dancing. He has released written books, produced DVD’s, delivered seminars on the dance and culture and has conducted extensive research into its history.
Zournatzidis will use the dance as a spring board into developing a greater understanding of Pontian culture for Greek Australians.
“Those who attend will gain a further insight into our culture through insights into dance, food, traditions, language – the Pontian dialect, one of the few Ancient Greek dialects that is active to this day.
Zournatzidis, the awe inspiring teacher, will take us on this journey,” Stefanidis highlighted enthusiastically.
The event has a strong focus on food as well with a picnic, a traditional Pontian glendi and a dinner dance scheduled over the three days.
The young members of the Pontian community in Wollongong have sat down with their grandparents, organising menus for a variety of Pontian food, learning and practicing how to cook, in preparation for the Synapantema.
This has been going on for the last couple of months.
“In order to immerse yourself into the Pontian world, one cannot neglect the food. On a hot day, one finds tun – yogurt, water & ice – very refreshing. A personal favourite is stipa or pickled cabbage, followed by some hot tanomenon tsiorvan or wheat stew, “ Stefanidis said.
“Mavra laxana or Black Cabbage is another favourite; light and very tasty especially with some lemon. And of course, the more zimarika type foods including pittes, pishia, perishkia, otia etc. Naturally, tsipouro is also as important.”
However the performance component of the three day event will also be an extricable part of the Synapantema.
The parakath or glendi that will take place after the “official” proceedings, will be lead by second, third and fourth generation Australians of Pontian heritage, who will sing, play the lyra, the daoul, the touloum, they will dance, they will follow what our ancestors have been doing for centuries: collectively entertain and be entertained; collectively as one, united.
“They will converge from across Australia, renewing old friendships, forging new ones, socialising, exchanging views, ideas and knowledge and continuing the Pontian culture, here in the Antipodes.”
For further information on Synapantema Pontion 2010 contact Matthew Papadopoulos on 0404 493 094 or log on to www.pontos.org.au/events.html