E.P.M. - Dancing Group

The cultivation of the arts in ancient Greece was the highest evidence of the "Human being" and unique approach of the divine. The deification of the arts and the genesis of deities - Muses, have been cornerstones in building the ancient Greek cultural greatness. Dealing with the arts is a mean of expression for all people in every period of human history. Especially for the Greeks, singing and dancing were the first and foremost ways of having fun, of externalizing the pain, the sorrow and joy in times of Slavery and fighting or in times of national pride.

This precise type of expression, the abundance of dancing movements of the Greek man and woman, the uniqueness and importance of Greek dance tradition, came to protect like a new Terpsichore (one of the ancient Muses) the Estia Pieridon Musson in Katerini with its Dance Department.

In the following brief history some evidence are indicated for the importance of dance over the centuries and the course of the Dance Department of Estia Pieridon Musson in Katerini from its foundation until today and the cultural and national value of this effort.

Dancing is a universal phenomenon and possibly the oldest of the human arts, since historical and ethnographic studies have shown that it responds to nearly all cultures and people of the earth.

The traditional (folklore) dance refers mainly to dance expression that took place in rural community in the process of a more or less "closed" life. However, in the wide variety of dance types and options that the Greek folk tradition contains, are also those dancing types formed on the outskirts of urban centres at the beginning of the century in the transition from predominantly rural to gradually urban Greek society. Dance in Greece is tied to national history and cultural tradition and was particularly in bad times, as in the Ottoman period one of the principal means of social empowerment and patriotic unity. In modern times dancing functionally intervenes with every day’s life.

By leaving the closed traditional life and the beginning of the folklore, the traditional dance came to “second” stage of existence. Efforts began early to conservate those dance - folk enactments. Several were the researchers, who traveled across the Greek regions in order to record the local dances. Slowly the first "tuitions of traditional dances" were founded in order to convey the new generations with the dance tradition.

Thus, in 1968, was established in Katerini, by a group of young urban people who loved the traditional dances, the Dance group of Estia Pieridon Musson in Katerini. Headmaster to this effort was the Professor of Physical Education Dimitrios
Paraskevopoulos. These young people began to gather material and learn dances from all over Greece. At the same time the first traditional costumes were purchased.

Over the first few years, the number of people who dealt with traditional dances in the Dance Department of Estia Pieridon Musson in Katerini increased rapidly. The love for tradition that the young people of Katerini had, find denature through the activities of the Estia Pieridon Musson in Katerini. So the effort of the 1968 pioneers began to bear fruit and was embraced by a touching manner by all the residents of Katerini.

The dance group became known to the outer boundaries of the county, throughout the Greek territory. In addition to its participating in events all over Greece (Agios Mamas, Halkidiki, Athens, Alexandroupolis, Axioupoli Aridaia, Gastouni Ilia, Edessa, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Karditsa, Kastoria, Naoussa, New Malgara, Nigrita, Xanthi, Palamas Karditsas, Patra, Chania, Aigio, Samos, Ikaria, New Karvali, etc.), since 1975 it began touring annually in Europe, Asia and America.

In all events that participated, the Dance Department of Estia Pieridon Musson in Katerini won praise and positive reviews from the public, organizational committees and experts, for the faithful representation of popular traditional events, the excellent stage presence, the well-appearing costumes and the reliability in the performance of traditional music.

The so far missions abroad are as follows:

1975: Germany
1978: Austria
1979: France, Netherlands
1980: Italy
1981: Switzerland, Italy
1982: Netherlands
1983: France, Spain, Portugal
1984: Romania, Poland
1985: France
1986: France
1987: Italy, Netherlands
1988: Canada
1989: France
1990: Italy, France
1991: Luxembourg
1992: Germany, Spain
1993: Italy
1994: Portugal
1995: Romania, France, Yugoslavia
1996: Romania, Belgium
1997: Cyprus
1998: Austria
1999: Italy
2000: Spain, Portugal
2001: Estonia, Hungary
2002: Czech Republic, Italy
2003: Cyprus
2004: Hungary
2005: China, France
2006: Italy
2007: Poland
2009: Canada

In the Dance Department at this moment are registere about 300 dancers. The children start learning dances from the age of ten. Parallel with the practical lessons of the steps, children learn the history of the dances, the role and the importance in people's lives and society. They also come in contact with the traditional costumes of each region, learn the pieces of each costume, their importance and their functionality. Finally the dancers get to know the traditional musical instruments, their construction methods and operation and learn to recognize the music and instruments of every region.

In recent years investigation has started and also recording of the dances of Pieria and the wider Northern Greece. The data collected and recorded in audio and video cassettes, CDs and DVDs. Alongside every recording is accompanied by the corresponding scientific, historical - folklore material in order the approaching effort to be integrated with accuracy and faithful reproduction of folk events. These cartridges are used during the lessons so that children can have as much visual picture of the dances as possible. So, after years of research, there are recorded and presented at various events dances of Pieria: Sirtos, Koukovitikos, Isos, Tsamikos Lazaion, Diplotos, Thileikotos, Roka, Zaharoula etc.

The Room of the Dance Department is continuously enriched with books and magazines that refer to the science of folklore and history, while there is a set of videotapes and DVDs with material of researches, performances of the dance group and performances of other dance groups. This material is also used during lessons for children, so they can have a better view of the stage presence of dance groups.

In the Cloakroom of the Dance Department of Pierides Mouses Center in Katerini there are around 220 traditional costumes covering the whole Greek territory, but also areas that were Greek, but not in the present Greek state. Some of the costumes are authentic and their value is incalculable. The responsibility of maintenance of those uniforms has a group of parents of children.

The Dance Department of Estia Pieridon Musson in Katerini offers services valuable both to the local community and Greece. It is a leisure resort for young people, especially in an era like today, where the temptations are proliferated and the risks have increased. It brings into contact the young people with the Greek tradition and contributes to the continuing centuries of cultural values.
It is also makes well known the name of Katerini across the country with its participation in events in all cities in Greece. Finally it is an ambassador of our country aboard teaching to the foreigners the Greek tradition and is an incentive to visit Greece and to admire closely the Greek culture.