Posts Tagged ‘Hamazkayin Sardarabad’

Sardarabad and Arax Dancers Enact Armenia’s Rebirth

Wisconsin concert draws Armenians and non-Armenians

By David Luhrssen

(South Milwaukee, WI) On Oct. 8, Wisconsin was treated to a rare opportunity to witness Armenian dance traditions presented with contemporary flair. Over eighty five dancers from the Sardarabad Dance Ensemble of Hamazkayin Chicago and the Arax Dance Group of Hamazkayin Detroit took the stage at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center in a performance whose focus was the resilience of Armenia’s people and culture.

The dance concert began with a multi-media presentation incorporating visual projections depicting the Armenian Genocide and a recitation in English and Armenian of Siamanto’s poem “Strangled.” Immediately afterward, an ensemble of performers filled the stage with “Rebirth,” a dance work portraying the commitment to life after the carnage of genocide.

The repertoire in the fast-paced, two-hour program represented many historically Armenian districts, including Sasoon, Artashat, Shirak, Van, Javakhk and Zangezur. Several dances commemorated historical events such as the battles of Avarayr and Sardarabad along with recent struggles in Nagorno-Karabakh. Other dances depicted the grace and beauty of Armenian women and the vibrancy of contemporary Armenian life.

Not unlike such popular Irish shows as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, the Sardarabad Dance Ensemble packaged tradition in a multi-media production that told the story of a particular people and their civilization. The performers ranged in age from children through adults and balanced heel-kicking athleticism with interpretive grace.

The location of the performance was significant. South Milwaukee, an industrial suburb of Milwaukee, was a magnet for refugees fleeing the Turkish massacres of the 1890s and became one of the first Armenian communities in the U.S. The dance concert was sponsored by St. John the Baptist Armenian Church in the nearby suburb of Greenfield in celebration of Armenian Cultural Month. The event was publicized in the local media as part of the Milwaukee area Armenian community’s commitment to raising awareness.

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Modern Impressions, Ancient Dances

Sardarabad Dance Ensemble

October 8, South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center

The Hamazkayin Sardarabad Dance Ensemble transforms the ancient traditions of Armenia into a 21st century multi-media spectacle of music, motion and light. Not unlike Lord of the Dance’s contemporary reinvention of Irish dance and culture, the Sardarabad Ensemble employs the timeless dance steps of an age-old folk culture to create an extraordinary experience for audiences.

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Hamazkayin Sardarabad Ensemble

An ancient nation from the borders of Asia and Europe, the rhythms of Armenia first came to worldwide attention nearly a century ago through Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance,” which remains a staple of classical concert music.

For their first performance in the Milwaukee area, the Chicago-based Sardarabad Ensemble will be joined by members of Detroit’s Hamazkayin Arax Dance Group, forming a colorfully costumed ensemble of 85 performers. The Armenian Community of Greater Milwaukee is sponsoring the dance concert as its contribution to Armenian Culture Month, observed every October to honor the achievements of a civilization older than Rome and as ancient as Greece and Persia.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. on October 8 at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, 901 15th Avenue, South Milwaukee. Tickets are $25. For tickets, call 414.766.5049 or visit http://tickets.stjohnarmenianchurch.org

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