Upper Darby, PA – One of the biggest dances of the year happened on Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Pontian Akritai community organized a dinner dance event at St. Demetrios church hall to celebrate the 75th anniversary as a syllogo. It is North America’s oldest Black Sea organization.
The annual event featured dancing, singing and traditional folk music of Pontian culture and attracts people from all over the tri-state area. Many come from as far away as Canada, Chicago, New York and Boston.
The evening kicked off with a musical performance by Seizmos and an amazing buffet. President Effie Pavlidou-Economou of the Akritai awarded plaques of recognition to key members of the community. Following the awards, the Akritai youth dance group captured the attention of the guests with their passionate performance of original folk dances from Pontos. Watching this performance made us feel proud and secure that the Pontian Akritai have a bright future and are in capable hands.
The sound of the daouli accompanied by the lyra then took center stage for the rest of the night. Pontian musicians shared the stage while the dance floor filled. Seven hundred people joined hands and danced to the folkloric tunes by Giannis Kourtidis’ making it an unforgettable evening.
The Pontian Akritai Society was established on May 11, 1939 by Mrs. Elpis Halkedis, who was loved and revered by her family, relatives friends and community. Additionally , she was well recognized and respected by Pontians throughout North America.
Initially, their purpose was to provide a forum for immigrant Pontians to socialize and become acclimated with the greater community at large. Their efforts to preserve and pass on tradition to the next generation, always followed a path according to the principles of Pontian culture.
Throughout the years, the Pontian association achieved and survived many challenges. One of those was the shortage of members.Three waves of immigration through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s helped the Akritai survive and grow again. This strengthened their organization which in turn produced their first dance troupe in 1978. The new members also promoted the creation of new unions in Canada and USA. In 1980 the Pontian Federation in U.S.A. and Canada was founded.
Written by Eleni-Lorena Sako