Dora Stratou Greek dances : A living museum

Dora Stratou performance

There are many different museums across the world. Athens has a special museum, a museum dedicated to the Greek dance. What makes it special is that it is not just housed in a building. It is a living museum with dancers, lots of spectacle and a school providing courses, workshops and lectures. Here below more information about this museum and dancing group, founded by Dora Stratou.

Dora Stratou was the museum’s founder. Her idea was to create a dancing group which would be able to perform in Greece and abroad. The initial goal was the preservation of dances as a proof of the continuity of the Greek race. She managed to mobilize state and private interest, and with their financial support to make her vision to come true.
Dancing is not just steps; it is also music, songs, costumes, jewelry, and customs. On the occasion of the Greek dances Dora Stratou started a folklore research throughout Greece and she managed to gather a wide variety of dances and songs and to organize a wardrobe with stunning costumes and jewelry of special folkloric value. At the same time she picked the best dancers and musicians. It should be noted that Dora Stratou was benefitted from the advice and assistance of great Greek artists and intellectuals such as Hadjidakis (composer), John Tsarouhis (artist – painter, who created the first costumes and painted embroidery designs on them by hand), Odysseas Elytis (poet), Dimitris Horn (actor), Nestor Matsas (journalist and writer with a particular interest in folklore and ethnographic documentaries) and others.

So, the organisation “Greek Dances – Dora Stratou” was created in 1953. The dancing group began performing in Greece and abroad. They toured in 21 countries with great success.
The audience at each show enjoys a tour in Greece through the various dances and music of each place and at the same time admires the special costumes of every part of Greece. It’s a fascinating spectacle. An important element of the show is the area where the performances take place: it is a garden theater of 860 seats on the far side of Philopappou hill, a green hill in the city center opposite the Acropolis ( the ancients called it “Hill of the Muses”).

You can find uncountable video’s on Youtube , here some examples taken in the Dora Stratou Theatre in Athens:

Dances from Crete:

Dances from the Cycladic islands:

Pontic Dances : “pontiaka” (Greeks from the Black Sea)

Dora Stratou left us a valuable property. Her work was recognized and rewarded. In 1963 she received the Theatre World Award, the most prestigious international distinction. She was also awarded by the Academy of Athens and got a grant from the Ford Foundation.

Today the Greek dances theater has expanded its activities. It disposes of:

-A company of 75 dancers, musicians and folk singers.
-School providing courses, lectures and workshops on Greek dance.
– A collection of over 2,000 village-made costumes, with jewels and other works of folk art worn on stage.
-Courses of folk embroidery and traditional culture.
-Field research programs in Dance Ethnography, Dance History, or Sociology.
-Archives of dance books, articles, field recordings, photographs, videos and films.
-Publications: over 40 LP records, 15 CDs, 15 cassettes, 7 videocassettes, 30 books on dance in Greek, English and other languages, 8 CD-ROMs, 5 DVDs.
-Organizer of the annual events: World Congress on Dance Research, Anapali Festival, Emmelia Festival.

Τhe audience can watch the performances from 28 May to 21 September, from Wednesday to Friday at 21:30, Saturday and Sunday at 20:15.

The show has duration of 90 minutes and includes dances from many regions of Greece. Each part of Greece is presented with its own authentic costumes, musical instruments, songs and dances.
During the course in Athens, the Omilo students will visit this theatre and can enjoy a dance performance. If you are in Athens that week, you are welcome to join!

Watching others dancing, is not enough for you? Do you want to learn the steps and enter the rhythm of Greek traditional music? Omilo organizes Greek dancing courses during the cultural week . Everybody is welcome!