The Pandect project

The Dora Stratou Theatre in the course of its 55 year history has created and collected an invaluable wealth of cultural exhibits, mostly concerning dance.

They include:

  • Moving pictures, that is films, video (amateur or professional), with or without sound recording, from:
    o Dora Stratou Theatre performances
    o Local events and festivities taking place in Greece or abroad
    o Events contiguous to dance (i.e. congresses on dance)
  • Reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, optical discs (CD-ROM, DVD) containing live or processed sound recordings of:
    o Dora Stratou Theatre performanceso Local events and festivities in Greece or abroad
    o Events associated with dance (e.g. congresses on dance)
  • Phonographic discs, cassettes, optical discs (CD-ROM, DVD)
    o Produced by the Theatre
    o Produced by other entities
  • Static pictures, such as:
    o photos printed on photosensitive paper or pictures compiled from various press publications
    o prints (engravings)
    o postcards
    o paintings
    o sketches, drawings
  • Documents
    o manuscripts
    o books
    o magazines
    o articles
    o studies
    o press clippings
  • Music scores
  • Local costumes and related garment accessories
    o entire costumes or parts of them
    o objects associated with local dance customs (e.g. a banner)

A wide range of cultural exhibits is collected in the continuously enriched archives of the Theatre. Their variety does not rest simply in their thematic categories or in their respective modes of artistic expression. The range is broadened by such parameters as original vs. copy, inclusion in a publication (e.g. excerpts from a book), theatrical performance by group A or B of exactly the same work, model vs. prototype, or commentary, namely, metadata related to an intellectual or artistic creation.

This variety and its ongoing expansion together are seminal virtues, desirable but leading to chaos in the absence of adequate organizational and administrative intervention.

So, the development of an information system to support the management, expansion, utilization and promotion of this cultural reserve demands the sorting out of concepts, objects and their correlations, of actions, actors, and the stimuli that set them in motion.

The Greek Dance Pandect Information System, from here on simply Pandect, records anything pertaining to Greek dance and its potential cross-correlations with world dance across time periods, locales and cultures.

Namely, it records “direct” dance creations (filmed dance, photographs from dance events, music and songs that accompany dance), as well as “indirect” dance creations (costumes, objects, texts, illustrations, etc.).

In Pandect, the recorded entities, that is the vehicles of information, are organised by necessity according to multiple approaches to intellectual and artistic creations.

Such approaches include:

  • Material (physical): object (physical, digital, hybrid), identity, essence, form, size, location in the archive, etc.)
  • Integration in units (collections, sub-collections)
  • Creation (creation, article, synergy, actor, role, means)
  • Specification of intellectual–artistic creation (elaboration of another creation (i.e. translation, improvisation and so on),
  • Dance (kind, type of dance)
  • Spatial setting (geographic, cultural, historical, administrative)
  • Linguistic-national (languages, countries, nationalities, titles of works, thesaurus of equivalent expressions)
  • Thematic organisation of entities
  • Historical-biographical description of actors
  • Historical management of the development of Pandect and its utilisation

The above-mentioned approaches also dictate a corresponding organization, structure and cross-correlation of its files, as well as its endowment with certain functions. On the one hand, it must record and update the stored information precisely, correctly and completely, and on the other hand it must retrieve information in any way interconnected information may be requested by users, using multiple search criteria.

The database was created to permit the authorized user to navigate the system in a flexible way, with minimal use of hierarchical steps.

Beyond the flexibility and effectiveness of information retrieval, Pandect had to meet the requirements of historicity and linguistic flexibility (nomenclature) of the user-researcher. This requirement led to the configuration of powerful sub-systems:

(a) a thesaurus of terms with synonyms, translations, equivalent writings, and

(b) the correspondence of regions under historically distinguishable administrative systems.

These requirements weighed down, even more, the system’s design and implementation.

The Information system is sufficiently secure as the following safeguards have been created:

  • Seven levels of user authorisation are provided, with graduated rights of access, insertion, deletion and modification of information.
  • For each digital object, thumbnail images or excerpts of sound-recordings and videos are displayed.
  • For each digital object, the user is presented with images in low analysis, stamped with a watermark.
  • All digital objects in the collection are also backed-up for security.
  • At regular time intervals, a back up of the entire data base is made.

To this date, Pandect has received:

Texts (symbol strings) 11,500

Static pictures 23,000

Videos 4,000

Sound recordings 7,000

These cultural exhibits have been digitized and documented in the framework of the project “Pandect of Greek Dance”, under Measure 1.3 of the Operational Program “Information Society” of the Community Framework Support III. The optimal result of this effort was realised through careful evaluation and application of strict procedures of oversight and monitoring of the artistic and scientific work for this activity.

Work on the Pandect has not finished. It will never finish - it will be enriched and improved continuously. It constitutes a tool for recording and retrieving information of any kind related to dance, Pandect aspires to be a point of reference on dance and, more particularly, an authentic source and instrument for the study of Greek dance. This ambitious goal dictates its

continuous updating. Aiming, therefore, at the ongoing enrichment of Pandect, contact with the Theatre by those interested in contributing to Pandect is strongly encouraged. This contact can be made via the Internet portal that has been set up, as well as by conventional methods. Any cultural material relevant to the dance, digitized or not, is welcome. After established procedures of evaluation, digitization and documentation, it will be uploaded to the database with full respect of authors’ or contributors’ rights.

Dimitrios Nissidis

Greek Dance Pandect is the result of a rare concurrence. Thanks to modern technology, the European Union and the Ministry of Culture, Dora Stratou Theatre showcases part of its archival material, thus expanding its 55-year contribution to culture by making dance available to a much wider public.

We have endeavoured to present all views, maintaining diversity in aesthetic, historical, social, technical approaches to dance. We have listed and presented all information considered valid in the sense that it has appeared in noteworthy publications.

Dance being alive, research and views on it evolve. It is not our desire to enclose dance in a museum or to project a unique opinion as valid. Listing as many different aspects as possible will lead to further research with established methodologies, although it risks confusion and misunderstandings. Furthermore it deprives poor work of the alibi of lack of information.

It would be a pity if the Pandect were used as a source of ready-made information to be relayed without conscious participation or critique. On the contrary, our ambition is to offer a tool and a starting point for cautious study.

Stergios Theocharidis