Hrach Gevorgyan: “The “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival is a celebration for all of us”

The Arpi Armenian Dance Group of Rostov-na-Don participated in the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival organized by the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia. The dance group’s artistic director and dance instructor Hrach Gevorgyan attaches importance to the festival, stating that it serves as one of the best ways of building a cultural bridge and instilling in young Diaspora Armenians the feeling of patriotism.

Hrach Gevorgyan talked about his impressions and the dance group’s achievements in an interview with Hayern Aysor.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Gevorgyan, when was the Arpi Armenian Dance Group established?

Hrach Gevorgyan: This year marks the fifth anniversary of the dance group, and we plan on celebrating it with a concert.

Before its establishment, there was no dance group in Rostov-na-Don. It is safe to say that we were the “pioneers” in this field. As you guessed, we teach Armenian folk dances, but we also teach the origin and history of the given dance so that the dancers know what they will be performing. This helps them perform well.

Hayern Aysor: How many dancers are there?

H. G.: Currently, we have 20 dancers divided into two groups-children’s and adult. Unfortunately, there is a lack of male dancers. The dancers are friendly to each other, and this is something that I had always dreamed about. They wait impatiently for the dance rehearsals and have a hard time saying good-bye after the rehearsals.

Throughout the years, I have noticed that young Diasporan Armenians learn Armenian dances with pleasure. They come to the rehearsals with the awareness that they must learn about Armenian culture abroad.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Gevorgyan, what achievements has the dance group made throughout the past five years of its existence?

H. G.: In a short amount of time, we have become recognized and gained reputation among not only the Armenians, but also the Russians in Rostov-na-Don. We regularly receive invitations from organizations of Rostov to participate in different events and festivals. For instance, before the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival, we performed at the event dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Justice University of Rostov-na-Don along with the dance groups of other nationalities that performed their national dances. We have already established ties with them since we meet during concerts on a regular basis. We also participated in the “Донская Волна” competition where our adults’ group received the first prize, while the children’s group received the second prize. Basically, we are active.

Hayern Aysor: Why did you name the dance group “Arpi”?

H. G.: The members of the dance group selected the name. After proposing several options, we finally chose the name Arpi. I love that name. It conveys the symbol of novelty and light. Since we as a dance group were the first in Rostov-na-Don, we decided to name the group “Arpi”.

Hayern Aysor: Now let’s talk about the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival organized by the RA Ministry of Diaspora. Was this the first time the dance group was participating in the festival?

H. G.: No, this was the second time. The first time we participated was in 2014. Participating in the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival is a great achievement for us. A nine-member group performed during the festival.

The members of the dance group participate in the festival with excitement and with feelings for the nation. They especially get excited about visiting Armenia. They receive energy and strength when they are in the Mother Homeland. When they return to Rostov-na-Don, they start working harder and get ready for the next festival.

During those two years, they determine the dance numbers that they will be performing. They also select their costumes and organize discussions.

I always say that the festival doesn’t last only ten days, but two years.

Hayern Aysor: What do Armenian dance groups of the Diaspora get out of the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival?

H. G.: First of all, participating in the festival provides an opportunity to meet and establish friendly ties with the members of Armenian dance groups and ensembles from different countries around the world. Based on my example, I can state that I have already established close ties with ten directors of dance groups during this festival.

The festival is truly a celebration for everyone. We shouldn’t pay attention to the quality of the dances too much. Participation is already an achievement for all of us. The directors of the dance groups also gain great experience and gain knowledge of new methods and approaches.

I would like to thank the RA Ministry of Diaspora for organizing the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival. I know the tremendous amount of work that they do for us.

Hayern Aysor: Does Arpi Armenian Dance Group do anything else besides participating in community events, concerts and tours?

H. G.: Of course, the dance group has organized the “Dance with Us” Program, which is aimed at teaching Diaspora Armenians Armenian dances. Through this program, we will also contribute to the development of Armenian culture. The dancers will visit Armenian schools of Rostov and hold courses with the children. We were aware that artistic director of the Karin Ethnographic Song and Dance Group, great Armenian dancer Gagik Ginosyan carries out a similar project in Armenia. Although I have close ties with him, to not violate copyright laws, I asked him to let us carry out a similar project. Gagik Ginosyan gave his consent and came up with some ideas for cooperation. Currently, we are discussing all the issues. After solving the problems with funding, we will be able to carry out this project.

Through the project, all dance groups can also perform. We plan on inviting the dance groups of other nationalities as a sign of friendship in the future. Through this project, we will try to establish inter-ethnic relations and teach people national dances.

The dance group also responded to the four-day Artsakh war. We were saddened by the news about the tragic situation in Artsakh.

In May, we organized the “I am Artsakh” charity concert that featured performances by four dance groups in Rostov-na-Don.

During the concert, we organized a fundraiser and will soon send all the proceeds to the family of Gagik Melkonyan, who was born in the Zolakar village of Gegharkunik Province and was killed during Azerbaijan’s military attacks.

The active participation of the Armenians of Rostov  in the concert was unprecedented. They did whatever they could to help the people of Artsakh. We will also help other families later.

Interview by Gevorg Chichyan

Scroll Up