(November 5, 1903 - January 15, 1988)
Within the group of women who played an important role in the preservation of intangible cultural heritage (music and dance) in Greece (Dora Stratou, Domna Samiou and Melpo Merlier), Dora Stratou is the least known outside Greece. Given the quality of the music and dance she deserves more attention for the work she did during the nearly thirty years she led the group.
Biography of Dora Stratou and the start of the group
Taken from the site of the Dora Stratou Group.
Dora Stratou was born in 1903 in Athens. Her mother, Maria Koromila, was the daughter of the playwright (“The Lover of the Shepherdess” and “Maroula’s Fate”) and journalist Dimitrios Koromilas, from an old Athenian family. Her father was Nikolaos Stratos, a lawyer from the village Loutro in the Etoloakarnania region. She grew up in the upper class urban environment of Athens at the beginning of the century.
She went Palace balls, studied foreign languages and singing, and befriended the offsprings of powerful families. Her piano teacher was Dimitri Mitropoulos, later famous conductor of the New York Philharmonic. She followed theatrical performances and concerts, a passion she maintained throughout her life.
Nikolaos Stratos, as member of Parliament, was Minister of the Interior in the cabinet of Dimitrios Rallis and subsequently joined the Liberal Party of Eleftherios Venizelos, becoming Minister of the Navy. In 1913, he crossed over to the royalist party and served as Prime Minister for a few days after the Asia Minor Disaster of 1922. For this he was sentenced for high treason and executed.
Her mother, together with Dora and her younger brother Andreas, left Greece. After a life of wealth, they found themselves suddenly on the threshold of poverty when their property was confiscated. Young Dora was traumatized by the execution of her father and the subsequent public humiliation. She spent the next ten years abroad – Berlin, Paris, New York – with her mother.
They returned to Greece in 1932. Her brother Andreas had studied law and was elected as a member of Parliament. Dora began to mix with the new crop of intellectuals of the inter-war period. She was twice married and divorced. During the Occupation (of World War II) she took an active part in the philanthropic works of the archbishopric. She assisted the later famous director Karolos Kuhn in the administration of his “Arts Theater”. In 1952 she saw by chance the 100-member national folk ensemble of Yugoslavia *) which was touring Europe featuring folk dances, music and costumes of its country. It was something of a revelation for the Athenian public. At that time in Greece there were very few performing groups, among them the pioneering one of the Lyceum of Greek Women, performing only two or three times a year, dressed in the urban Amalia costume. Their primary aim was to satisfy their own dancers, young Athenian girls of good families.
George Megas, university professor of folklore, suggested the establishment of a national ensemble in Greece. Dora Stratou then asked Sophocles Venizelos, vice-president of the government, to approve financial assistance. The idea was to establish permanent professional ensemble capable of daily performances and tours abroad. It would have a large repertoire, a rich wardrobe from many Greek regions, a program designed to attract audiences. And so, the “Greek Dances – Dora Stratou” society was created.
She was befriended and had helped many upcoming artists and intellectuals – now she could benefit from their advice and assistance. To mention but a few: painter Spiros Vasileiou, composer Manos Hatzidakis, painter Yannis Tsarouhis, musicologist Foivos Anorgheianakis, musicologist Simon Karas, painter Giannis Moralis, poet Odisseas Elitis, folklorist Nestoras Matsas, writer Alekos Lidorikis, actor Dimitris Horn, folklrist Dimitris Loukatos, costume folklorist Angeliki Hatzimihali, pianist Gina Bachauer.
At the age of 50, she began this exhausting task with a passion. The first costumes were made by painter Yannis Tsarouhis, who also painted embroidery designs on them by hand. She toured villages to collect dances, songs, costumes, and folk jewelry, thus amassing the biggest collection in Greece. She selected the best dancers and instrumentalists to staff the ensemble. They gave successful performances in 21 countries. In 1963, Constantine Karamanlis, ordered the construction of a special theater for the ensemble on the hillside of Filopappou. In 1967, during the military regime, Dora Stratou was arrested for hiding the fugitive newspaper publisher Christos Lambrakis in her home. Melina Mercouri created an uproar abroad and succeeded in having Dora Stratou released. In the same year Dora Stratou was awarded the most prestigious international distinction, the World Theater Award, as well as the Academy of Athens Award and a Ford Foundation grant.
Besides all the work she did for the group, she also advised on projects in the field of Greek traditional music (e.g. the Unesco series of Odeon and Auvidis).
In 1983 she retired due to ill health. She passed away in January 1988.
*) The folk ensemble which she saw was Tanec from Skopje, which made its first tour outside Macedonia.
Biography of Prof. Dr. Alkis Raftis, the successsor of Dora Stratou
Taken from the site of Alkis Raftis.
Alkis Raftis was born in Athens. His family lives there since 1860, his grandfather and great grandfather were bakers in Plaka, the old town under the Acropolis. Both his parents and other members of his family played leading roles in the Resistance during the Nazi occupation.
He speaks 6 languages and holds degrees from 4 universities (engineering, sociology, political sociology and management) in Athens and in Paris.
After being a senior executive in American multinational corporations, he served as professor at universities: Patras School of Engineeting, Patras School of Education, Paris-Dauphine and Paris-Sorbonne. He has given lectures in another 16 universities. He served as vice-governor of the ETBA national investment bank, and finally decided to concentrate on dance.
He has carried out ethnographic research on traditional dancing in villages, historical research on Greek dance since Antiquity, as well as research on dance in world art and poetry. Prof. Raftis is considered the leading authority on dance in Greece since the Antiquity, as well as on dancers around 1900 such as Isadora Duncan and La Belle Otero. His Dance History Gallery series is considered the most valuable tool for dance historians. He is currently working on the history of dance in the Eastern Mediterranean before 1900.
He has authored more than 20 books on dance, culture and management, and more than 100 articles. He has edited other 30 books, 11 CD-ROM volumes, 6 CDs, 2 DVDs and a bi-monthly review with over 110 issues.
Dr. Raftis is currently president of the International Dance Council CID at UNESCO, Paris. Since 1987 he is president of the national Dora Stratou Dance Theatre and Company in Athens.
The American recordings by Esoteric Records and licensed reissues
Jerry Newman was the owner and recording engineer of Esoteric Records. The recordings took place in the first months of 1954 during the America tour of the group. The quality of the recordings are very good. Newman used an Ampex tape recorder and two Telefunken U 47 microphones (these microphones are still produced these days). He published two records in 1954. Later on he changed the name of the company in Counterpoint Records. It is unclear if the contacts with Vogue/Counterpoint played a role in his decision. It is a fact that he was in Europe (France) for a longer time and he had contact with Vogue, that also ran the label Counterpoint. In 1963 Esoteric/Counterpoint was sold to Everest Records. These two essential records were reissued by other companies, in most cases after the company was acquired by Everest. Most reissues were officially licensed, but sometimes simply "stolen". More details can be found below. There were different names used: "Royal Greek Festival Company", "Dora Stratou Greek Dance Company", "Panegyris". The latter was not the name of the group, but the name of the program.
The notes on the back side of the record sleeves were written by the renowned Greek ethnomusicologist Fivos Anoyanakis. Sometimes these notes were used on reissues.
|This is the first Esoteric record ES 527. The original, with title Volume I "Greek Folk Songs and Dances". Issued in 1954. There was also a French version of Volume I, Counterpoint.||This is the second Esoteric record ES 531. The original, with title Volume II "Island and Mountain Songs". Issued in 1954. There was also a French version of Volume II, Counterpoint MC 20.092.|
This is the first reissue of Esoteric record ES 527 after Newman changed the name from Esoteric in Counterpoint in 1957. The label name and catalogue number became Counterpoint CPT 527. A stereo version was also issued as Counterpoint CPST-5527; the date of this reissue is unknown.
This is the first reissue of Esoteric record ES 531 after Newman changed the name from Esoteric to Counterpoint in 1957. The label name and catalogue number became Counterpoint CPT 531. As far as known a stereo version was not issued.
Reissue by Concert Hall/Musical Masterpiece Society in 1961. This was not issued in the United States, but only in Germany, France and Israel. From each medley one item was removed, perhaps for commercial reasons.
Reissue of the first volume, this time licensed from Everest Records in the sixties, by Mode Disques,a sub label of Vogue as Mode Disques MDEVR 9326.
Reissue of the second volume, this time licensed from Everest Records in the sixties, by Mode Disques, a sub label of Vogue as Mode Disques MDEVR 9329.
This is a 7 inch 45 rpm record with six tracks from Volume 1, issued in 1958, by Vogue. It was issued when there existed a Vogue Counterpoint label.
This is a 7 inch 45 rpm record with six tracks from Volume II, Date of issue unknown (somewhere in the sixties) by Disques Pop – SPO 17074, a sub label of Vogue.
A reissue by Everest Records (SDBR 3368/3) in a three record box set. Volume I, Volume II and a third volume with tracks played by Greek immigrants from the US. The last record does not contain very interesting tracks.
Reissue by Olympic (not to be confused with the US label Olympic) CPTG 50000. Issued after 1967 when the business of RCA Victor Greece was taken over by Philips.
A reissue by Vedette Records (VRMS 350) of Volume I in Italy. Date is unknown.
Reissue of Volume I by Olympic Records (USA) OL-6106 in 1974. Olympic Records was distributed by Everest Records.
Reissue of Volume II by Olympic Records (USA) OL-6140 in 1974.
Reissue by Legacy International CD 318 in 1994. Contains the B-side of Volume I and the complete Volume II. This was the first reissue on CD. The issue date is unknown.
Reissue of Volume II on a CD of the Tradition label, which Rykodisc acquired from Everest Records. The liner notes are from the original Esoteric record, without mentioning the author of the notes.
Reissue by Priceless Collections COL-CD-0866 in 2007. They licensed the content from Everest Records. The content is the same as the Legacy International CD, the B-side of Volume I and the complete Volume II.
Bootlegs are circulating OF the Esoteric Records with fancy labels like this one. Amazon used this label picture in the past to sell mp3 tracks from the Dora Stratou Dance Company.
Other recordings of Dora Stratou from the sixties and seventies
During this period more companies issued records with new recordings.
|10 inch record, recorded by Philips (N 00745 R). Later licensed to Columbia (see next item) which was issued as a 12 inch LP record, it must have been issued before 1958.||Issued by Columbia Records (CBS) (WL 123) in 1958. Licensed from Philips, see previous item.||RCA Victor issued two volumes in 1966 with recordings of the Dora Stratou Dance Company in two versions. A Greek and an international version. This is the Greek version with catalogue number LPMG 9 (see sleeve picture). The international version has number FPM 133. There was also an Olympic Greece version with number SBL 1038. When RCA Victor left the Greek market in 1967, Philips Greece took over the portfolio and reissued the record in 1996 on CD on their sub label Fidelity 532 834.|
|RCA Victor issued two volumes in 1966 with recordings of the Dora Stratou Dance Company in two versions. A Greek and an international version. This is the international version with catalogue number FSP 161 (this sleeve picture). It is unknown if there was a Greek version. There was an Olympic Greece version with number BL 1057. When RCA Victor left the Greek market in 1967, Philips Greece took over the portfolio and reissued the record in 1996 on CD on their sub label Fidelity 532 835.||Volume 1 of a set of four Philips LP's (catalogue number 6460407) issued in 1975 with music from the Peloponessos and Roumeli. Reissued as CD in 1994.||Volume 2 of a set of four Philips LP's (catalogue number 6460408) issued in 1975 with music from Macedonia and Epirus. Reissued as CD in 1994.|
|Volume 3 from a set of four Philips LP's (catalogue number 6460409) issued in 1975 with music from Thrace and Pontus. Reissued as CD in 1994.||Volume 4 from a set of four Philips LP's (catalogue number 6460410) issued in 1975 with music from Crete, Kithnos and Naxos. Reissued as CD in 1994.|
Selection from the four previous Philips LP's by Polygram Greece (catalog number 257) for the Greek newspaper Adesmeftos Typos in 1995.
Records on which Dora Stratou Dance Company participated
A number of tracks are published on a number of records or cd's that are not dedicated to the group.
|Seven tracks on a Japanese LP record Seven Seas (catalogue number GT-5024) issued in 1974.|
Reissue of the previous record by King, a subdivision of Seven Seas, (catalogue number King K30Y 5114) in 1987.
|Four tracks on a LP record Melophone (catalogue number SMEL 46) in 1975.|
|Four tracks on a CD Fidelity (catalogue number 526534) in 1994.|
Records and CD's issued by the Dora Stratou Dance Company
Dora Stratou Dance Company issued from 1976 to 1983 36 LP records with catalogue numbers DS 101 till DS 136. This set of records coveres the whole of Greece.
|The record sleeves have identical covers and on the back side the description of a couple LP's from the series. Each LP is identified with a sticker with the number on the front cover.|
In the nineties the company issued four CD's, and a double CD with a selection from these thirty-six LP's. There were also issued four CD's by other record companies, containing tracks from the series.
|CD DS 152 with a selection of dances.||CD DS 154 with a selection of dances from Macedonia||CD DS 155 with a selection of Pontic dances.|
Double CD DS 158 with songs from Macedonia, sung by Vangelis Daskaloudis.
CD DS 159 with songs and dances from Crete.
CD DS 160, sungs by Gyota Pantazi, tracks that were not earlier published.
CD issued by the Japanese King label (catalogue number KICC 5176) in 1994. The tracks on this CD are a selection from the 36 records.