DANCES

Arax Mission

The Arax Armenian Dance Ensemble of Greater Washington is an organization aimed at preserving Armenian traditional folk dances. Our mission is to bring together individuals who are interested in learning traditional Armenian dances as well as cultivating these dances within both the Armenian and non-Armenian communities within the Greater Washington, DC Metropolitan area.

The Arax Armenian Dance Ensemble of Greater Washington presents traditional Armenian folk dances for diverse audiences. Our dancers perform unique line and circle dances, graceful women’s improvisations featuring delicate arm and hand movements, and forceful and energetic male dances.

Traditionally, music and dance accompanied everything from family celebrations to fieldwork. Like much Eastern music, Armenian music is modal, based on un-tempered scales instead of octaves. Armenian dance music also features unusual rhythms such as 5/4 and 9/8.

Under the supervision of its artistic director, Ms. Carolyn Rapkievian who has more than 20 years of professional experience in teaching and performing Armenian dances, as well as International folk dancing, ballroom dancing and ballet, the dance ensemble has had many successes in the past year.


Our Repertiore


The Arax Armenian Dance Ensemble is named after the Arax River in Armenia and we perform Armenian folk dances - some in their traditional form and some choreographed for the stage from traditional dances.

Abarani Bar, choreographed by Carolyn Rapkievian is about cutting the wheat and gathering the wheat for the harvest. The Shoghaken Ensemble of Yerevan Armenia is playing traditional Armenian instruments in the musical recording we use. The 5/4 rhythm of this dance is like our heartbeat.

Daronee is a suite of two women’s dances from the Daron region of ancient Western Armenia. This province was devastated during the genocide but in the 1960’s, Azat Gharibian, director of the Armenian State Song and Dance Ensemble, pieced together this dance from fragments. The first song is about loss of one’s beloved and one’s homeland. The second tune is more lively, celebrating survival.

Kotchari, was choreographed by David Rapkievian from traditional kotchari steps. Kotchari dances are usually danced by men and are said to represent the movements of goats, jumping, butting, and leaping. Kotchari dances from Eastern Armenia are related to the dance called the Haleh from ancient Western Armenia.

"Moom" means Candle in the Armenian language. Candles are utilized in our religious traditions as well as in our folk traditions. Danced to the song, "I'd die for the wind of the Mountains", the singer laments the loss of her love wishing for a whiff of his breath in the mountain air. The dance, choreographed by Carolyn Rapkievian, is symbolically about the loss of our sacred homeland and the ending pose represents the outline of Mount Ararat where Noah, the grandfather of the Armenian people, landed his ark after the great flood.

In May of 2005, a quarter of a million people danced in an unbroken circle around Mount Arakadz, the highest mountain in Armenia, in a Round Dance of Unity. The dance we perform was choreographed by Gagik Karapetian for that special event.

Ezerum Bar, is a graceful women's dance from Ezerum in ancient Western Armenia. Gagik Karapetian, Director of the state dance ensemble in Yerevan Armenia who taught this dance to the director of the Arax ensemble, considers this dance to be a jewel because it is perhaps thousands of years old.

The Tamzara was danced throughout Eastern and Western Armenia. Each village had its own variation of this dance in 9/8 rhythm. Our Tamzara was choreographed by Carolyn Rapkievian based on village Tamzaras. The Tamzara is still popular today in Armenian diaspora communities throughout the world.

Sari Siroon Yar was choreographed by Carolyn Rapkievian to the music of the Armenian contemporary a cappella group, Zulal. In the song, a young woman is looking for her beloved but alas, can not find him.

Loorke is a contemporary rendition of the dance originally from the region of Van. Choreographed by Carolyn Rapkievian, it is based on dance steps learned from Gagik Karapetian.

Ilig Bar is staged as a solo woman’s dance. The movements represent winding the yarn, spinning the thread with a drop spindle, and spinning the thread with a spinning wheel - which were used to make our cloth and our beautiful carpets.

Oormetzeener was choreographed by Gagik Karapetian from traditional dance steps from the region of Oormetz, a historic settlement of Armenians near Lake Oormia.

Armenians and Laz people from the shores of the Black Sea share a tradition of fishing and of course, dancing. Laz Bar, was choreographed by David Rapkievian from traditional Laz steps.

The dance Martinoo Kochari, is from Vaspurakan in ancient Western Armenia. This dance is also found on the southern shore of Lake Sevan in Armenia. In this dance you can almost imagine goats leaping in a field. This unusual lyrical Kochari, has mixed rhythms with measures of 6/8, 7/8, 8/8, and 9/8.

Beautiful Lake Sevan in Armenia is the largest alpine lake in the world. Sevanee, choregraphed by Gagik Karapetian, celebrates the serenity of Lake Sevan. Movements in the dance represent frolicking in its gentle waters.

Jojun, is a lively dance from Speetak, in the northern part of Eastern Armenia. It features fast footwork characteristic of stage dances from this region of Armenia.

Dickranagert Barer is a suite of four dances from Dickranagert, a province in ancient Western Armenia. This dance suite was choreographed by Gagik Karapetian from traditional dances from Dickranagert.

In Dzaner Bar, the dancers are at a picnic celebrating the harvest of the grapes. This folkdance in 9/8 rhythm is from the province of Harput in historic Armenia. The dance was staged by Carolyn Rapkievian whose grandfather was from Harput.

Ov Highyots Ashkar, choreographed by Gagik Karapetian, is a contemporary collection of traditional Armenian folkdances - representing our exuberant struggle to remember our traditions while embracing the modern world.

Kessabsi Barer is a suite of two dances from Kessab, a town on the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea.

Beejo was choreographed by Carolyn Rapkievian inspired by the original folk dance from Sepastia, a province in ancient western Armenia. The folk dance, carried to this country by survivors, was preserved by Arsen Anoushian of the Armenian Folkdance Society of New York in the 1970's.


© 2010 Arax Armenian Dance Ensemble