Melbourne’s Manasis dancers bring the spirit of Greek carnival to Oakleigh

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By Mary Sinanidis

Manasis Dance Group in Melbourne held a vibrant Apokries celebration at Vanila Café in Oakleigh, showcasing the spirit of the Greek Carnival. 

Dimosthenis Manasis told The Greek Herald that Apokries have the opportunity to engage students of all levels “by introducing them to dances that don’t require complex choreography.”

manasis apokries
Apokries in Melbourne. All photos: The Greek Herald / Mary Sinanidis.
manasis apokries
manasis apokries
manasis apokries

It isn’t just the students that were engaged by the festivities, but also the diners around Eaton Mall who were treated to some shenanigans from Greek villages like Ampelia and Kleidonia, as well as Shahino, north of Thessaloniki.

Manasis believes that understanding the origins and symbolism of these customs fosters a deeper connection to Greek culture. 

manasis apokries
manasis apokries
manasis apokries
manasis apokries

“Many of these customs adapted to Christianity and that is how they survived,” he said.

He hopes the same rings true through dances like Apokries, where the focus is less on learning the choreography and more about fun. 

manasis apokries
manasis apokries
The event catered to people of all ages.
manasis apokries
manasis apokries
manasis apokries

“The celebratory atmosphere and educational component create a sense of belonging and cultural connection for young participants,” he said, admiring the enthusiasm of his attendees and joking they were like his “personal rent-a-crowd.” 

“Going to Greece to see Apokries from up close, especially in Naoussa, is a dream for me… But I don’t want to leave them. And the dances have become a tradition for our school.” 

He may never have had the opportunity to visit Greece during carnival time but the vibrancy of his Apokries party transported those present to the birthplace of these traditions.  

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