An Evening of Memories. An evening in honour of Mme Eva Airapetian and her 25 years of service to the Ani Dance Ensemble

On March 25, Hamazkayin Educational & Cultural Society’s “Sanahin” chapter of Quebec organized an evening in honour of Mme Eva Airapetian and her 25 years of service to the Hamazkayin Ani Dance Ensemble. More than 170 invitees, almost all previous dancers with Mme Airapetian, showed up for this event.

Culture, any culture is a living entity. It does not stop. It cannot stop. For it to be worthy of respect and be relevant, it needs to live, change, add, modify, incorporate and yes, sometimes even let go.

This does not mean that we should forget the past. Never. It does mean that culture needs to be in constant motion to reflect the thoughts, the feelings, the raison d’être of the generation of the day which it represents, keeping its heritage and adding to it the new. Each generation needs to, has to contribute to the chain that makes up culture and feel themselves as part of that culture. Otherwise, it will be just nostalgia from previous generations and no more.

All this is easy to say but very hard to realize. In these turbulent times, when people are busy with hundreds of other things they have to deal with, any culture has a fight not only to survive but to grow.

In our case, Hamazkayin has the responsibility to coordinate between culture and community. It is up to Hamazkayin to protect the past but present the here and now as well as the future to our community. Change is part of life. Striving to the next stage is part of life. Continuing to grow and expand is part of life. Culture must reflect our entity and contribute to the well being of a person.

This work can only be done by people who are dedicated to the cause and are willing to put in whatever effort is required to achieve the goal. And here enters Mme Eva Airapetian.

25 years ago, in 1995, Mme Airapetian became the artistic director and choreographer of the Hamazkayin Ani Dance Ensemble of the Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Society of Quebec. Mme Airapetian was the next step to a number of talented people who were in charge of the dance group prior to Mme Airapetian. They did their part and successfully brought the dance ensemble to a high level when Mme Airapetian took over.

Mme Eva Airapetian is born in Yerevan, Armenia. She was first dancer of the Armenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. Graduate of the Academy of the Bolshoi Ballet Company, the internationally renowned classical ballet company, with a masters in choreography and ballet, she was the star dancer of more than 15 major productions with international presentations in the (previous) Soviet Union, United States, Canada, France and Germany.

Through 25 years of hard work, Mme Airapetian brought Ani Dance Ensemble to the forefront of modern Armenian dance. Through more than 15 major productions, Mme Airapetian married the traditional with the modern, presenting to the public various aspects of Armenian history through the medium of dance.  Through her presentations we learned of our history and culture as well as enjoy some amazing dancing where the marriage of traditional, classical and modern choreography, well trained dancers, lighting, décor, costumes and music brought us to a very high level of artistic achievement.

It must be noted that apart from Ani Dance Ensemble, Mme Airapetian also prepared and motivated many generations of new dancers by teaching dance to hundreds and hundreds of children from the age of 4 to 18. Armenian dance is one of the fundamental activities in the Armenian community of Quebec and is the first point of entry for most children of Armenian descent into Armenian culture. It is not uncommon to see 3 generations of families in Quebec all gone through Ani Dance Ensemble sometimes even being on stage at the same time. The dream of these children is to join the “medzerou khoump” once they turned 18. Mme Airapetian played an instrumental roll in preparing and achieving their goal. And finally, Mme Airapetian also brought her talents in training and forming the older generations in fitness and well being.

Mme Airapetian was honoured four times during the evening. First by the Hamazkayin Quebec “Sanahin” chapter represented by Mr. Hratch Seyraydarian, Secondly by Hamazkayin Canada represented by Tamar Shahinian, Thirdly by M. Guy Landry representing Folklore Canada and finally by Hokeshnorh Der Hagop Vartabed Yacoubian representing the Prelate of the Armenian Prelacy of Canada His Grace Kerashnorh Papken Archbishop Tcharian, who bestowed upon Mme Airapetian the award of “Anania Shiragatzi”.

The committee made up of Marie Hovannessian, Sevan Apanian, Lorie Kodikian, Khatchig Balian, Anna Boulgarian, Gacia Lakhoyan, Sirusho Papikian and Alik Boulgarian had prepared an excellent event. Between video presentations of the various productions to the speeches presented by Miss Lorie Kodikian, MC of the evening and Mr. Sevan Apanian who presented the biography of Eva Airapetian, the attendees went through 25 years of Eva Airapetian and Ani Dance Ensemble.

Thank you to the committee who organized an amazing and memorable evening.

Congratulations Mme Eva Airapetian. Thank you for all you did for Ani Dance Group and the Armenian community at large. Best of luck in your future adventures. “Vartzkt gadar”.

Ani Dance Ensemble is one of the treasures of the Armenian community not only of Quebec but of the international Armenian community. We wish the next generation of choreographers and dancers the best of luck. We are always there to cheer you on.

Adom Malkhassian

Ani Dance Ensemble member since 1967 photography


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