By Jennifer Keledjian
and Shayla Srabian
The Armenian Students Organization of
California State University, Fresno wanted a way to share their Armenian culture with
non-Armenians within the community. With this in mind they came up with the idea of
presenting an Armenian International Dance and Music Festival, which took place on Friday,
March 19, 1999 in the Satellite Student Union on campus.
The event was sponsored by the University Student Union Diversity Awareness Program, a Program which was initiated in 1989 to afford students the opportunity to promote the celebration of diversity of all people everywhere. The evenings ceremonies began with a warm welcome from Arakel Arisian, President of Armenian Students Organization.
The program continued with David Emerzian, ASI President, who spoke about the importance of having an Armenian dance festival. "It is good for us to learn about other cultures and ethnicities, and events like this one do exactly that." Emerzian continued by extending Arisian's welcome to all non-Armenians and those not affiliated with Fresno State. Matthew Maroot, ASO Vice-President, then briefly introduced the dancing exhibition and the agenda for the evening.
The first performance of the evening was by the Anoush Armenian Dance Group. The aim of this group is to instill in children the love of traditional dance and music. The dance group performs a variety of different types of international dances. At the festival, the group, under the direction of Lorik Alexanderian, performed four dances; Bar te Khagh, Zhoghovrtagan Shourch Bar, Kemancha, and Picture Dance. The dancers of the Anoush Armenian Dance group included Maria Altebarmakian, Christine Boyajian, Kelsey Chavoor, Ani and Alene Istanbulian, Caroline Karakashian, Armine Khushigian, Tanya Moazamitour, Agine Nartirosian, and Lindsay Tatarian.
Following this performance were the Arax Armenian Dancers, a group of dedicated Armenian men and women who perform Armenian line and choreographed works, teach Armenian dancing, and strive to preserve the art of Armenian dancing. The group, under the direction of Zar Der Mugrdechian, gracefully danced to Sevanee, Loree Aghcheeg, Lyrikagan, and Goranee. Tom Bozigian is the dance choreographer. The dancers included Lena Abrahamian, Zar Der Mugrdechian, Vera Gabriel, Melain Garabet, Maral Garabet-McDowell, and Raffi Hagopian-Johnson.
The Richard Hagopian Ensemble demonstrated the many instruments that make Armenian music come alive. The group performed a variety of Armenian traditional songs, all of which helped to celebrate the spirit of Armenian music. The four members of the Ensemble are Richard Hagopian, Kay Hagopian, Armen Hagopian, and Jim Karagozian. The performance of the Ensemble definitely added excitement to the evening, encouraging everyone to dance.
The night ended with Armenian contemporary dancing, featuring Hye Oozh D.J.'s, Susie Saghdejian and Nishan Tanossian. The number of young people on the dance floor served as proof that Armenian culture is still awake and flourishing in the younger generation.
Aside from the wonderful dancing, music, and demonstration of musical instruments, an abundant display of traditional Armenian hors d'oeuvres, graciously prepared by the Tomassian family, added to the cultural theme of the evening.
The Armenian Students Organization would like to extend their appreciation to the following for their time, effort, and contribution; Valley Lahvosh Baking Company, University Student Union Student Activities Staff, University Student Union Reservations Desk Staff, Kelly Stevens-Diversity Awareness Program Advisor, Nazik Arisian, Marie Mekhitarian, and the Tomassian Family.