Dance Ensemble Performs Extensively in 2006
all seen images of pages flying off a calendar, one
day after another, one month after another. That's what
2006 seemed like for the members of the AGBU Antranig
Dance Ensemble. Between high-profile shows and church
and community group performances, there’s rarely
time to reflect on events before another one pops up
on the schedule. But if you’ve been wondering,
here’s what our year was like.
asked what the highlight of their year was, the Antranig
dancers would probably tell you it was their performance
in Providence, Rhode Island at the 50th anniversary
celebration of the Armenian Chorale of Rhode Island.
As the featured performers in the second half of a program
arranged by Maestro Konstantin Petrosian, the Antranig
Dance Ensemble brought down the house in a display of
energy and artistry unique to their brand of performance.
The Chorale described it as "the pinnacle of our
concert program, which left the audience in awe."
Providence show followed by a few months a mini-performance
by a handful of Antranig dancers at the 40th Anniversary
of the Erevan Choral Society & Orchestra in the
Greater Boston area. Fr. Oshagan Minassian of Holy Trinity
Armenian Church of Cambridge, Mass. specifically invited
the Antranig members to be a part of his program. He
then increased the challenge to Antranig Artistic Director
Joyce Tamesian-Shenloogian to choreograph dances to
several new music pieces which he provided within weeks
of the performance. She did her part with a healthy
dose of imagination, and the dancers did theirs with
daily rehearsals after work, between school sessions,
and in addition to their regular full-group rehearsals.
And the audience was left with the memories of a graceful
and polished dance presentation to complement the Choral
Society and Orchestra show.
of the easier and fun-loving performances the Antranig
Ensemble has enjoyed for the past several years is marching
in the Persian Parade down Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
Sponsored annually by a number of New York-area Persian
organizations, they have hooked onto Antranig as one
of their premier performers. The dancers stretch across
the avenue performing in their rich costumes, as Armenian
music blares from the Persian-Armenian float in front
of them. It's a true spectacle for the eyes, and each
year's parade is no sooner over, than the Antranig dancers
are booked for next year's parade. These appearances
have also led to the group being booked for an occasional
smaller show within the Persian community, which can't
seem to get enough of their ethnic Armenian culture.
outdoor performance this year, which turned out to be
bigger and better than anyone planned, was an Armenian
Day event sponsored by the Armenian Club of Columbia
University. On the sprawling plaza of the school's Manhattan
campus, the Antranig Dance Ensemble performed one group
dance after another. Under a warm, sunny sky in early
spring, the weather seemed to bring out a tremendous
audience of Armenian and non-Armenian alike. Sitting
on the steps of the campus buildings, strolling across
116th Street, and creating an on-the-spot theater-in-the-round,
the spectators stopped where they were when the Antranig
dancers began their show and seemed to multiply with
college event followed by only a few months the Armenian
Club of Rutgers University annual cultural day at their
New Brunswick, NJ campus. Captivating the attendees
for nearly an hour, the Antranig Dance Ensemble once
again played to their audience, first drawing them in,
and then having the additional pleasure of mingling
with them at a full dinner prepared and served by the
Armenian Club members after the show.
was an appearance at the 75th Anniversary of the Ladies
Guild of Holy Cross Church of Armenia in New York. Chairman
and former Antranig dancer Sam Chapootian took time
out from the church's celebrations to also present a
gift to Antranig Artistic Director Joyce Tamesian-Shenloogian
on the occasion of her 20th anniversary as Director.
it's the shorter events that get the most attention.
For example, the Antranig Dance Ensemble performed just
two dances at the Tekeyan Cultural Association banquet
celebrating 15 years of Armenian independence in October.
With just minutes to get on the Kavookjian Auditorium
stage due to a last minute schedule change, the Antranig
dancers got the attention of the full house with their
rousing brand of nationalistic dance and opened the
door for presentations by other dance groups from the
New York area. The dancers loved the off-the-record
email from one of the organizers that told them "You
guys rocked the house, really wowed the crowd and made
us all proud."
few years ago Antranig's directors and alumni were instrumental
in starting the Hye Bar Dance Group at the Armenian
Church of the Holy Martyrs in Bayside. Designed to teach
Armenian performance dance to youngsters, attendance
grew to weekly rehearsals of thirty, forty, even fifty
boys and girls under the leadership of former Antranig
dancers Rita and Ginny Arakelyan. In the past few years
the members of Hye Bar have performed a couple of dances
within Antranig's "Journey Through Dance"
production, including on the stage of Lincoln Center,
Alice Tully Hall. Last year, the younger group put on
their first full-length performance, "Carrying
the Torch." In a reversal of roles, the Antranig
Dance Ensemble supported that show with a few dances
of their own.
a good feeling for Antranig to know that there is a
ready-made 'pipeline' of new dancers being trained behind
the current group. That philosophy took hold this year
as a number of Hye Bar performers have now stepped up
to the parent group, with plans to include them in future
all this activity, it would be easy to overlook the
community service events that the Antranig Dance Ensemble
has made a routine part of their calendar. In 2006 that
included volunteering their time and talents to the
Armenian Home for the Aged in New York, the Knights
and Daughters of Vartan in New Jersey, and church events
in Queens and New Jersey.
review of 2006 looks like any other year of the group's
colorful past. Whether performing in its native New
York environment or traveling to other communities,
as it has done nationwide and worldwide for 37 years,
the Antranig Ensemble remains true to its role of presenting
the most original, contemporary and traditional Armenian
dance available today.