Koula Pratsika: A Pioneer
A leading figure, dance and rhythmic instructor Koula Pratsika, was a pioneer in establishing a broader scope of studies in the art of dance in Greece. She was born in Patras on November 24, 1899, and as a young girl she expressed great passion for dance and for Ancient Greece. After graduating from the Arsakeio School in Athens, she was entrusted the lead of chorus by Eva Palmer Sikelianou, in Prometheus Bound, during the first Delphic Festivities in 1927. This moving experience was the springboard from which sprung a career of immense creativity, but also one counting many struggles in the name of art and of Greece. She studied music and kinesiology with Emile Jacques-Dalcroze and Christine Baer-Frisell in the Hellerau-Laxenburg Scholl of Dance and Rhythmic in Vienna. In 1930, she returns to Greece and immediately starts teaching dance and rhythmic at the National Theatre. Concurrently, she founds her own school of Dance and Rhythmic; in 1934, it was housed at her privately owned historical building, located on 55 Omirou st. in Athens; In 1937, with strong belief that Greece was in need of knowledgeable and well-trained dance instructors, she starts a professional-level department in her school, with a full curriculum including courses of both theory and practice.
However, her passion for the art of dance was not limited to only instruction. As a true high priestess of Greek culture (she lit the Olympic flame for the first time at the Ancient Olympia stadium in1936) she inspired and organized art festivals in both indoor and open-air ancient Greek theatres.
Some of her most memorable choreographies, such as Pagana (Pagan rituals), Midnight summer’s dream, Beauty and the rose and Archaic dances bring her to the top in the world of dance in Greece, giving her the opportunity to make the Greek national tradition in dance known to international audiences. For her valuable contribution to the art of dance and to Greece itself, she was awarded medals by the Greek armed forces (1940-41), the Greek Red Cross and the Athens Archdiocese; she was honoured with the “Commander of Beneficence medal” (1960), the “Vermeil” diploma and medal by the city of Paris (1973) and the award by the Athens Academy (1974). In 1972, she licensed her school to the Greek State, while still remaining as director until 1980 when, at the age of 81, she retired. Koula Pratsika died in 1984, leaving behind her legacy of a great teacher, a creative artist and a magnificent human being.