Born and raised in Canada, I was a dancer for Hamazkayin Toronto's Erepuni dance ensemble for many years. Through the Birthright program, I have been in Armenia for four months and am now assisting in teaching Armenian folk dance with my Toronto dance teacher, who happens to be my repatriated cousin!
At the "Hai Art Production" Armenian-Canadian Production Center in the Ararat region's city of Masis, we teach groups aged 5-7, 8-12, and 12+. For the last few weeks, we were preparing to participate in the "Sketches of Shirak" state dance festival that took place in the lovely city of Gyumri at the beautiful Black Fortress. There were 45 different dance groups participating from all over Armenia!
Our 8-11 aged group danced to "Hey Jan, Ghapama!" and "Azkakragan," and the 12-18 aged girls group danced to "Kilikia" and "Yes Im Anoush Hayastani." It was nostalgic to see these students dance some of the choreography that I had learned and danced many years ago.
Out of 18 groups that participated in the 8-11 age range, our group took 2nd place! I am very thankful to have been a part of this experience, although not as a dancer, but through a supporting role which has felt very rewarding. Now, we're preparing for our next performance.
Here’s a little bit of advice I’ll share... "If you stumble, make it part of the dance!"