The following article was originally published in Zartonk Armenian Newspaper of Beirut (June 18, 2009, p. 8) and written by Lucy Deokmejian:
On May 23 and 24, 2009, Lebanese Armenians enjoyed two performances of the Armenian General Benevolent Union-Armenian Youth Association’s Antranik Youth Dance Ensemble, which took place in the Hagop Der Melkonian Theater of Bourdj Hammoud.
One of the main elements of the unique national identity of the Armenian people is Armenian culture, and the Armenian people in the homeland and especially the Diaspora are untiringly engaged in efforts to strengthen it and survive by means of it. In this regard, a large role belongs to the Armenian General Benevolent Union, which has been one of the pioneers and main protectors of Armenian culture in the Diaspora, and particularly in Lebanon, for over a century by means of the various undertakings organized by it.
The AYA Dance Ensemble, having gotten around Lebanon’s difficult economic conditions, put on a high-quality, distinctly ethnic performance with Gayane Matsunian as artistic director. For the past two years now, Miss Matsunian has assumed the directorship of the AYA Antranik Dance Ensemble, which is comprised of over 60 boys and girls, ranging in age from childhood to adolescence, who are divided into five groups.
The program began with the national anthems of Lebanon and Armenia, as well as the marches of AGBU and AYA. Subsequently, in a program made up of two parts, the boys and girls divided into five groups performed dances to the accompaniment of Armenian, American, Spanish and Arabic music.
The members of the dance ensemble presented “Yerginkn Ambel A,” “Keler Tsoler,” “Groong,” “Garoun A,” “Erzrumi Shoror,” “Shalakho,” “Anourchner,” “Tamzara,” and “Dzaghgadz Baleni” to the music of A. Mardirosian, Khachatur Avetisian, Komitas and other folk melodies.
The little boys and girls, in turn, presented the dance “Ob La Di.” The “Flamenco” dance was unique, in that Miss Gayane Matsunian, the dance ensemble’s artistic director, gave a solo performance, accompanied by the guitar playing and singing of Koko Gedelekian.
Also participating in the program was Miss Nanor Majarian, one of the promising youths of the Lebanese Armenian community, who garnered the attention of the audience with her rendition of the song “Oruh yev Nergan.”
Summarized & translated by Aris Sevag