Dance Ensemble Takes New York
was a night for Armenians to feel great about being
Armenian. With every seat filled in Alice Tully Hall
at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts,
the AGBU Antranig Dance Ensemble
presented a true cultural tour de force with their latest
stage creation, "Journey Through Dance."
air was electric with anticipation before the show,
both in the theater and lobby, as well as among the
dancers and aides backstage. The Antranig Ensemble had
presented so many memorable performances on this stage
in the past thirty-five years that long- time devotees
knew they were in for something special. And even the
newer followers of the dance group and a sizeable non-Armenian
audience had heard enough to expect a big event.
all got what they wanted. From the opening number, "Hayastan,"
with the full ensemble filling the stage with bright
costumes and flowing choreography, plus the excitement
of sword dueling among the men, the Antranig Dance Ensemble
had a thousand people in the palm of its hand. Applause
shook the hall, comments of amazement passed from one
spectator to another, and so it
continued through more than two dozen dance creations.
exceptional variety of dance presented in the program
was especially striking. Ethnographic dances from historic
regions of Armenia have always been a staple of the
Antranig repertoire, but
where did they ever find such a unique dance as that
from the "Hamshen" area? Traditional Armenian
dances have become routine, but who could have guessed
that a simple "Tamzara" could look like this?
dances showcase the skills of some of the better dancers
of the ensemble, but was that really an investment banker,
a cancer researcher and a high school student in "Garnanayeen?"
Many dance shows might include one or two joke or skit
dances, but who would have expected four in this program,
with audience reaction confirming that the jokes and
skits really were funny?
no review of "Journey Through Dance" could
be complete without mention of the "Der Vorghormya/Avarayr"
finale. Creating movement and displaying meaning to
a song of prayer is hard enough, but bringing half the
audience to tears showed the message was both delivered
and received. After being enraptured for over two hours
this audience was still strongly moved and motivated
by a dance that told more about the Armenian people
than a history text ever could.
it was this exceptional range of dancing that made this
such a remarkable show. The music produced in Armenia
specifically for this program, the outstanding but not
overdone costumes also designed and produced in Armenia,
the subtle but effective lighting treatments and absence
of stage props, all allowed the audience to focus on
the artform that had been created.
different types of dance and the exceptional choreography
allowed for constant motion without distraction. It
was a dance program that featured dance, advanced enough
to impress the
discerning eye, simple enough to entertain a novice.
how about those children? Over sixty young ones from
the Hye Bar Dance Group of the Armenian Church of the
Holy Martyrs, under the direction of Rita Kizakian,
and the Hamazkayin Society of New Jersey brought their
own dance surprises to stage as they showed the fruits
of many weeks of their own hard work in "Lorgeh"
Antranig Dance Ensemble is a combination of young Armenian
men and women who have been members from less than one
year to over twenty years. The time and dedication that
goes into the making of such a dance production is given
freely because it's something the members have chosen
to do. The skills and energy that are presented on stage
are the results of nearly two years of preparation.
many hands went into the making of "Journey Through
Dance," it was the unequaled creativity and tireless
training provided by Gagik Karapetian, Antranig's choreographer
Yerevan, Armenia, and Joyce Tamesian-Shenloogian, the
Ensemble's long-time dedicated Artistic Director, that
made the show what it is. Their teamwork is unmatched
in the world of Armenian dance, with bigger and better
productions each time the Ensemble takes the stage.
those who couldn't get tickets to Antranig's Lincoln
Center performance and for those out of the New York
area, there is more good news. Plans are currently in
progress for encore presentations of "Journey Through
Dance" as early as the Fall of 2004 in New York
as well as in other Armenian communities, with details
to be announced shortly. This is one show you don't
want to hear about...you want to see it for yourself.