Publications / Books authored /
Dances of the whole world
on postage stamps. A complete catalogue
Author: Prof. Dr. Alkis Raftis
Preface: Prof. Dr. Roderyk Lange
Publisher: Dora Stratou Dance Theater
Scholiou 8, Plaka, GR-10558 Athens, Greece
tel. (30)210 324 4395;
fax 210 324 6921
Under the auspices of the International Dance Council CID, UNESCO
Publication date: 1998
Pages 77+16 colour
Price: 14 euros
- A complete catalogue of the 3,000 postage stamps on dance
- 93 pages, format A4 (30.5 x 22.5 cm), 16 pages illustrated in color
- Catalogue numbers: Scott, Stanley Gibbons, Michel, Yvert et Tellier
- Stamps arranged by country, year of issue, denomination
- Short description of the dance scene, plus philatelic information
- All the 267 countries, past and present, on the globe
- All genders of dance, from prehistoric to ancient to ballet, to traditional to modern to disco
- Indispensable for collectors and dance historians
- Authored and prefaced by two of the world's most respected dance scholars.
Bronze medal, Kifissia Philatelic Exhibition, Athens, Greece,1999
Bronze medal, World Philatelic Exhibition, Nürnberg, Germany, 1999
Bronze medal, Brno 2000 National Stamp Exhibition, CzechRepublic, 2000
Silver bronze medal, 5th National Philatelic Literature Exhibition, Ottawa, 2000
Silver bronze medal, Chicagopex 2000 Exhibition, Rosemont, Illinois, 2000
Silver bronze medal, Cyprus-Europhilex 2002, Cyprus, 2002
It is well known that iconography plays a vital role in tracing dance activities in the past. When there are no descriptions of the dance progression available, when no music survives the pictorial representations of dance scenes supply us at least with a visual record, proving, that certain dance activities existed. Even if a picture on its own does not convey the movement, one may deduce from it some information on the type and style of dancing during a certain period. For this reason iconography is a much respected source material in dance research.
Alkis Raftis has collected postal stamps with dance representations for a long time. This domain was until now quite neglected. It represents, though, an important document of the appreciation of dance in our time, and is an indication of the recognition of its growing status.
The author has drawn together extensive material in this publication, and catalogued it. For this labor of love future generations of dance researchers will certainly be grateful.
The present catalogue represents the first attempt to approach dance in a truly global perspective. In issuing postage stamps, every country strives to project its image inland and abroad. Accordingly, for every single country one can see now the vision it has of its own dance.
No book exists dealing with dance in all the countries of the world. "History of dance" books number by the thousands, but they mostly deal with ballet and modern dance. Their focus is always on theatrical dance of the European tradition, with a couple of odd chapters on other dance forms. When treating non-theatrical or non-European dances, they cannot help to see them in a superficial or ethnocentric perspective. On the other hand, there are many books dealing with dance in one country or one small region, and so many more could be written before local dance idioms disappear under the pressure of television-diffused culture.
Dance teachers and dance group leaders know very well that, among the persons who take up dance in their teens, in infinite fraction remains when in their twenties. From then on, they very rarely practice dance, if at all. Some become occasional spectators of dance performances, even less keep in touch by reading dance magazines or books.
Collecting dance stamps can keep a great number of young - and less young - people abreast with the art, bring them in contact with other enthusiasts around the world, while offering an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject. This catalogue is addressed primarily to dance teachers who, if not ready to adopt the hobby themselves, should drop the idea to their students.
Thematic stamp collecting is a hobby for dozens of millions of persons around the globe but, among the hundreds of themes selected, dance is a rarity. One wonders why, especially since so many young persons attend dance schools or take part in folk dance groups, not to mention those frequenting dance halls or discothèques. Collecting dance stamps, besides the general benefits of stamp collecting, broadens one’s understanding of dance and enhances the pleasure of practicing or watching dance.
In compiling this catalogue, several questions have arisen, involving a number of choices as to which stamps should be included.
- Is it dance? In a great number of scenes it is not clear whether the persons depicted are dancing or simply adopting a dance-like posture. We have included these stamps, guided by the context of the scene, and noted our doubt by a question mark.
- What is dance? Scholars have struggled for ages with definitions of dance. It is still not clear how to classify borderline cases, like ice-dancing (more correctly called figure-skating), rhythmic gymnastics or water-dancing. Some people even claim animals dance. Definitely, not every rhythmical movement is dance, even when it is accompanied by music. Otherwise, a military parade would be dance. The definition we propose is Dance is organized expressive movement. When the esthetic expression through body movement as such is dominant, then it is not dance. We believe that when the primary object is physical exercise, it should be classified under "sports", even when it involves graceful movement with music. Not to disappoint some collectors, we have included a number of such stamps.
- What about dance-related objects? The most common case is dance masks, but also ballet shoes, tambourines, castanets and other objets used by dancers and clearly implying dance. When they are depicted outside a dance scene, we have included them only when the context makes it clear that they are used to point specifically to dance (for example as symbols of a dance festival).
- Should dance-music be included? The answer was easily negative - dance music is not dance. Stamps with composers, musical instruments, opera houses, scores etc. belong to the sphere of music stamp collecting, enjoying a great number of collectors and abundant literature.
Fortunately, most of the stamps compiled here denote dance clearly. To make things even simpler for dance stamp collectors, we have used this rule of thumb: When in doubt, we include a stamp if at least one of the four catalogues consulted mentions dance in its description.
This catalogue is updated constantly to include new issues of stamps and revise or add catalogue numbers. An edition in CD-ROM form is under preparation. It will include the contents of this catalogue, plus color illustrations of more than 1,000 stamps, plus extensive notes of the dances and dancers mentioned.
The data has been arranged in fields:
COUNTRY - The country issuing the stamp
YEAR - Year of issue
DENOMINATION - Face value of the stamp
DESCRIPTION - Short description of the dance scene
SCOTT - Scott catalogue number
GIBBONS - Stanley Gibbons catalogue number
MICHEL - Michel catalogue number
YVERT - Yvert et Tellier catalogue number
NOTES - Additional information, mainly philatelic. This field is used to give distinctive signs of the stamp, such as color, air mail, overprinting, souvenir sheets etc., to facilitate recognition, especially in case of similar issues.