Raffi Afarian: “It is a joy and pride for us to perform in the homeland”

In an interview with Hayern Aysor, Raffi Afarian, correspondent and regional committee member of Knar Dance Group of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of Beirut, which participated in the 3rd “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival organized by the RA Ministry of Diaspora, presented the dance group’s activities and its impressions of the festival.

“It is always a joy and pride to be in Armenia and perform in the homeland. We feel as proud as the soldiers on the border. There were some members who were ill, but they performed because they were aware of their responsibility and mission to dance in Armenia,” Raffi said.

Raffi Afarian says the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival is important for Armenian cultural groups abroad, adding that it helps young Diaspora Armenians come together in Armenia, meet each other, receive positive vibes, return to their countries of residence and continue their activities to help empower the cultural ties between Armenia and the Diaspora.

“A nation can’t exist without culture. We Armenians have a rich, centuries-old cultural heritage to present to the world, and national dance forms a part of that culture.

We Armenians need to fight for the preservation of our culture in Armenia and abroad day and night. I can proudly say that Knar Dance Group has been contributing to the preservation and dissemination of Armenian culture through its activities for years,” Raffi Afarian said.

Knar Dance Group of Hamazkayin was established in 1956 in the Eshrefieh district of Lebanon through the combined efforts of Vartkes and Eklantin Abrahamians. Since 2011, Merited Cultural Figure of the Republic of Armenia Hovhannes Khachikian is the artistic director and dance instructor of the group.

The group has participated in several festivals and has performed in various countries around the world. In 1975, the group presented Armenian dances at the international festival in the Confolan district of France, performed during a consecration at the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Sharjah) in 1998, participated in the opening ceremony of the Arab Games in Beirut in 1999, performed during the Lebanon-2000 Armenian Day celebration in 2000, at the 2001 Brummana and 2002 Zahle festivals in Lebanon and during the Woman and Man of the Year ceremony organized by Future TV of Lebanon in 2004. That same year, the dance group participated in the “One Nation, One Culture” Pan-Armenian Festival in Armenia.

In 2005, Knar Dance Group and Gaiane Dance School performed at the United We Run Festival in Beirut. In 2007, the group presented the “Lil ula lil alam” dance performance, which was entirely devoted to Lebanon.

The group has presented the cultural heritage of the Armenian people at a high level in Armenia, France, Kuwait, Iran, Cyprus, Syria, Artsakh and other countries.

Recently, Knar Dance Group was awarded with the Gold Medal of the RA Ministry of Diaspora for making contributions to the strengthening of relations between Armenian communities, achieving successes in providing young Armenian children and youth with an Armenian education and upbringing, helping increase the reputation of Armenia and contributing to its recognition through dance, as well as making great contributions to preservation of the Armenian identity and providing notable services for the partnership between Armenia and the Diaspora.

Gevorg Chichyan

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