CULTURE

Tribute to a nation’s revolution

The virtue and daring of the Greek War of Independence of 1821 is the focus of a performance of Greek folk songs by the Lyceum of Greek Women at the Herod Atticus Theater tonight. The performance, a celebration of the 180th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence, is a joint production by the Lyceum of Greek Women and the Greek Parliament, following the latter’s decision to honor the occasion during the sixth meeting of the Youth Parliament. The idea is to underline the role of traditional songs and dances as symbols of the identity and unity of the Greek people. The paths to freedom and expression go through channels not always easy to control by those who try to… The klepht songs revived the nation’s poetry and music, noted Alexis Politis in the preface to the compilation of klepht songs he published in 1973, adding that the anonymous folk poet drew freedom from the soul and brought it to. .. the ears of his society. Time has not altered the significance of such songs, whether the work of unknown poets or well-known figures such as Rigas Feraios. From the Balkan Wars to World War II and then to the seven-year military junta, the people have often united under such symbols. The Lykeion ton Hellenidon (the Lyceum of Greek Women) was founded in 1911 by Calliroe Parren, a pioneer of the Greek feminist movement. Today it has become a national institution known for voluntary work which above all safeguards Greek folk tradition. The lyceum offers 2,500 children living in cities, aged between six and 18, a rare chance to get to know Greek dance traditions, which remain a vital source of life for rural Greece. This is an essential function, as it ensures that certain aspects of this tradition are passed on from one generation to the next. The Lyceum’s various activities are undertaken by 48 local branches, while there are also 17 branches abroad, the latter reinforcing the ties between Greece and its expatriates. Furthermore, the Lyceum has a valuable collection of authentic Greek costumes, documents and other texts. Since 1991, with the aid of the European Union, the organization has hosted training programs in dance instruction as well as traditional costume conservation, while it has also produced records, tapes and CDs – important tools when teaching Greek dance. Members of the Lyceum’s dance troupe have performed at key international venues. Their first appearance at the Herod Atticus Theater was in 1964. Performing tonight are the Athens Lyceum of Greek Women Dance Group as well as a number of folk singers, musicians and dancers from all over the country. The production’s research, artistic and stage direction were undertaken by Lambros Liavas, while the dance direction was provided by Lefteris Drandakis. Production direction is by Nana Stassinou and Ilias Markou, sound by Yiannis Smyrneos and lighting by Adonis Panayiotopoulos.