The Greek Dance Pandect

1. Introduction

The Greek Dance Pandect is a data bank containing digitalized documents and information concerning Greek dance. The data bank is located in the server of the Dora Stratou Theatre in Athens. The project comprised the acquisition of computer hardware, the development of software, the digitalization and documentation, the issue of a DVD and the creation of a portal. It was financed by the European Union, under the program "Information Society, measure1.3".

The database maintains the information in the language in which it was originally written and is, thus, multi-lingual, while the portal is bi-lingual in Greek and English. Digitalization and documentation, being the major sub-project, started in 2006, was finished in 2008 and will be continuously updated in the coming years. A staff of 27 and dozens of volunteers worked on it. The budget was 600,000 € of which 75% was covered by the European Fund for Regional Development and 25% by the Greek Ministry of Culture. The Theatre contributed beyond the granted budget from its own resources and continues to finance after completion.

The digitalized and filed material comprises:

a) Texts: articles, excerpts from books, scientific papers presented in congresses, poems, song lyrics

b) Static pictures: photographs, prints, works of art, postage stamps, objects, folk costumes, views, musical scores

c) Moving pictures (video): dance scenes from performances and other events, workshops, congresses, lectures

d) Music: recordings from LPs, CDs or tapes, as well as field recordings.

e) Metadata of all the above

2. Sources and volume of material

The digitalized material in the Pandect stems from documents found in the archives of the Dora Stratou Theatre. The greater part of the material has not been filed yet. The material comprises:

a) Texts, articles and books published by the Dora Stratou Theatre. The full texts of excerpts from articles and books had been shortened for reasons of limited space in the original edition.

b) Historical photographs (before 1950), prints, postage stamps and works of art on Greek dance from the collection of Alkis Raftis.

c) Photographs from performances of the Theatre, as well as parts of films from research in the field by Dora Stratou.

d) Photographs and videos from performances by other ensembles, mainly at the 21 World Congresses on Dance Research held up to now.

e) Music, mainly from LP records of the collection of Alkis Raftis, but also from older material of the Theatre.

f) Material offered by other institutions and individuals.

g) The guide for the verification and documentation of the filed digitalized material was the 800-page book by Alkis Raftis, Encyclopedia of Greek Dance, published by the Dora Stratou Theatre in 1995.

The quantities contained in the present form of the Pandect are:

11,000 pages of text

23,000 static pictures

4,000 moving pictures (video)

7,000 recordings

3. Access

Information can be retrieved in the following ways:

a) A small part of the information is contained in the DVD "Encyclopedia of Greek dance", which is an easy-to-use tool for those who have no Internet access. It contains a first sample of the material, with the basic information.

b) In the portal, "The world of Greek dance", one can find a greater sample of material (approximately 10%) with a variety of information, freely accessible with multiple search criteria.

c) At the premises of the Dora Stratou Theatre, advanced researchers, recognized by the computer system, have limited access and prescribed rights, directly from terminals of the server.

d) Authorized personnel of the Theatre, with special rights of access, may retrieve, add, delete or modify information.

4. Search

Search and retrieval of information in the Pandect is done with simple or composite ad hoc criteria, in a flexible way, with a minimum of limitations on navigation through the data base schema.

The attributes contributing to the formation of search criteria are: object, category / specie of item / article / creation, theme, location, actor, synergy, title, ethnologic characteristics.

As search support, one of the subsystems functions as a thesaurus of equivalent expressions independent of language or spelling.

5. Technical characteristics

Following the policy of the Theatre, open source technology and tools such as PΗP, MySql, and Apache, were used throughout the project. Custom-made software was developed to fill the needs of the Theatre and the particular nature of Greek dance.

The computer system is installed in a cluster of HP Proliant servers on racks in a computer room. The equipment is supported by wired or wireless high-speed networking with 23 terminals (work stations). The system is protected by APC. This provides maximum speed and security, while offering optimal service quality.

6. Working assumptions

Particular criteria were employed for the needs of the Pandect. They are neither absolute nor binding but were necessary in order to make possible the classification of material so disparate, since:

a) It is immense in volume, with many tens of thousands of documents, varying greatly in nature.

b) It covers a time span of more than two centuries. During that period, important changes have occurred in notions pertaining to dance, in the geographical settlement of Greek populations, in the sovereign state in each province, in the names of locations.

We wish to emphasize that these criteria are working assumptions for the needs of this specific project only and should not be taken as given for use in another project, for a study or for a general consideration.

Additionally, a great part of the photographs, especially from the distant past, came into our hands without an indication of date, location or other data. This is true to a lesser extent for recordings or texts. In these cases, we proceeded to approximate a classification, in the hope that, with time, additional data will be found for a more accurate characterization.

7. Perspectives

For the Dora Stratou Theatre, the present form of the Pandect is not an end but only a beginning. Many historical documents have been collected and a part of them has been filed, while we continue searching for more.

Since we have established the infrastructure, we aim to complement our data bank in the future with:

a) Data on Greek dance to be offered by individuals, dance ensembles and other agents in Greece and abroad.

b) Material on every type of dance in Greece, executed or created by Greeks. This involves mainly theatrical and ballroom dance.

c) Material on dance in other countries, texts in various languages, audio and video material. The data bank has been designed for this extension.

There are many texts and old photographs from every country of the globe in the collection of Alkis Raftis. We have secured the cooperation of members of the International Dance Council CID, the world-wide organization of UNESCO for all forms of dance.

We deposit today a part of the material concerning Greek traditional dance, with the satisfaction that it constitutes a genuine pandect, since it covers the majority of data on the subject and is ready for additions. It is certain that no comparable work exists in any other country. We will continue to work until it becomes the pandect of dance in the world.