Antipodes Festival: Zorba Your Way to Greece

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Celebrating the 36th annual Antipodes Greek Festival in Melbourne, welcomed another year of success as crowds reached an impressive 100,000 people across the weekend. For the first time, The City of Melbourne has established Antipodes as a Tier 1 event, amongst the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the Australian Tennis Open.

To put into perspective amongst other recent events in Melbourne:

  • Matildas vs. Uzbekistan (10 – 0): 54,000 people.
  • Taylor Swift Concert: 288,000 people (across 3 shows).
  • Pink Concert: 120,000 people (across 2 shows).
  • Chinese New Year: 150,000 people.
  • Melbourne Art Fair: 20,000 people.

Historically situated at the core of Melbourne’s Greek precinct on Lonsdale Street, Antipodes has commendably become the largest Hellenic festival in global diaspora. A sea of blue and white furbished the strip as those from all backgrounds and ages were united into the dynamic blend of Greek tradition, artistry, and community.

Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, made an unexpected appearance while remarking that,

“The largest Greek population outside Greece right here in Melbourne. Thank you for sharing with us your culture, your food, your language, your dance, and your music. There is no community stronger in Australia than the Melbourne Greek community.”

Amongst the 90 indulgent market stalls, delectable culinary delights, and 700 captivating performers, was the iconic ‘Zorba Til You Drop competition’. Continuing the legacy of the Zorba, ultimately the most famous Greek dance in history. Imagine it being torn apart at the seams, given new raw rhythms, frenzied footwork, and excessive energy. Otherwise known as a heart stopping, stamina testing, entertaining hour and 45 minute dance marathon. Without a frill or mandili in sight, the competition delivered a truly dramatic and demanding performance, which was modern, fast, and furious, accompanied by the classic musical score by Mikis Theodorakis. Sponsored by airline company, Scoot, the prize declared an all-round plane ticket to Greece in which the 28 year old male, Nikos Vokolos, secured the champion title for the second time (formerly winning in 2020). Dean Kotsianis, the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) board member, expressed that, "The Zorba dance is a timeless tradition. Its movements, sounds, and energy have the power to transport you mentally to Greece. Now, with our incredible partners at Scoot, we can 'teleport' there physically too!" Additionally, Antonia Tsamis, the GCM events manager and co-ordinator of the Antipodes festival, stated, “I am thrilled to see the festival continue to grow and flourish. We are grateful for Scoot’s continued support, which allows us to create unforgettable experiences for our festival attendees, and the ability to offer such an incredible prize.”

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The competition was categorised down into various levels of difficulty, beginning with the conventional Zorba steps, into featuring complex choreography which aimed to eliminate contestants progressively. There were 10 aspiring competitors, both male and female, with ages ranging from 16 – 52. Nikos Vokolos is also involved in the GCM Dance Group, having performed 3 times across the weekend besides the competition, further proving his well-deserved crown.

Bill Papastergiadis, president of the GCM, encapsulated Antipodes with a sincere speech, “This festival to me symbolises the simple pleasures that are brought to life, celebration with friends, coming together, the smiles associated with reuniting with sounds, smells, and taste of lands afar.” He also highlighted words ‘kefi and glendi’ to be the integral meaning for all those embarking. Antipodes certainly achieved this by fostering the inherent sense of cultural connection and identity, something that Greeks unequivocally know best.


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