Interview with Anahit Saribeckyan
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B. Seed: Thanks for being on brightseedblog.com, Anah Sari, singer, dancer/dance historian, choreographer, teacher, Armenian culture, The internationally acclaimed Catharsis – Narekatsi – The Ensemble “NAIRI”. Is this the pride of your life? What does NAIRI stand for?
A. Sari: Hello. Thank you for your consideration on what I do. My real name is Anahit Saribeckyan. Anah Sari is a short nickname, easy to remember. Nairi is one of old names of Armenia, it comes from ancient times (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nairi). Giving this name to my ensemble I wanted to have the energy and the story of Nairi World – strong, peace, success and progress. Catharsis-Narekatsi is one of my choreographies. Pride of my life is the gift from the universe, luck and people who surround me and help me all the time.
B. Seed: For your achievements you earned membership to the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO. How important was this to NAIRI and you?
A. Sari: This is very important for every professional as CID is the only official global organization of dance.
B. Seed: Yerevan was named the 2012 World Book Capital by UNESCO. In the United States, World Book Day is a new celebration. Are you involved in the project in any way ?
A. Sari: This is another project. We all Armenians are very happy and proud for this event.
B. Seed: It is clear from your work that you intend to maintain the history and integrity of the Armenian people. Is this, in part, the reason why you “specialize in Armenian dances and songs”?
A. Sari: I was born to be a choreographer and dance teahcer. My parents are artists and I was on the stage from my childhood time. Started to dance from the day when I was created. Dance is my life and I live only when I dance. Specialize in dance and songs, not only in Armenian. I prefer go on and not stay on the same level.
B. Seed: It is also important to you and NAIRI, i believe, to be seen as absolutely unique in the performance/show, and self sufficient, financed completely by the Armenian nation and people, is that right?
A. Sari: You are right, our stage dance performances are more then unique, not repeated. They don’t repeat performances of other choreographers. At its core, it contains a sign language of the world in which Armenian national spirit dominates. We have some financial help from Armenian community of Nizhni Novgorod, my special thanks to Aghasi Alekyan (President of Armenian Community in Nizhni Novgorod, Russia). Completely all the concerts and trips to many festivals are covered by the parents of my dancers.
B. Seed: You started NAIRI in Russia, i think, not Armenia. Is this because you were living there or was Russia a better starting point?
A. Sari: I moved from Armenia to Russia in 2003 and Nairi was founded in 2007. I would found a dance ensemble in Armenia if I was there. Better starting point is people who surround us and the start energy and thoughts that lead us.
B. Seed: In your interview with Ashot Beglaryan, i believe, about the festival 2011_Primorsko, Bulgaria you say about the performances of the ensemble: “I am very pleased. In my opinion, “nairyata” were excellent. It is noted and the audience, and their opinion – the main reward for us. Our ensemble went to the European level”. Why is “European level” important to you?
A. Sari: People from other countries, most of them never knew about Armenian culture or have very poor information about it. They know our story, how my nation suffered, they know some very popular pieces of art. Such visits help to make acquaintance about whole colorful bouquet of our culture. After performances or workshops people always ask us a lot of questions about everything, we keep contacts and slowly give information, music, dance videos about national culture. We always worry whether audience will accept and like our performance. Also it is very educational for my dancers too. From each country we take with us a piece of information about their culture. We Learn songs and dances from them too.
B. Seed: A Gold medal at the 5th All-Russian Festival Competition of folk groups “Crystal Key” (summer 2008, village Sartakovo, Russia), Won the first place in the category of the choreography in the 1st International Festival-Competition at “The Source of Friendship” (December 2012,city Tver, Russia), The winner of the 2nd annual festival of Armenian song and dance groups “Wax gazelle – 2008” in St.Petersburg, in 2008 from the Governor of Ararat received a gold medal, “.. Artsakh, under the ‘One Nation – One Culture’. NKR we took the best of the group..” In your opinion do you think Nairi Armenian Folk and Ethnographic Dance Ensemble is the best folk ensemble in Armenian and all of Europe?
A. Sari: We never think or act like that. Ask other people in what level we are. I would like to know your own opinion when you will see our live performance. Hope in the nearest future.
B. Seed: Victor Kanaplyou: “Karabakh – it’s … it’s …”, “This is – a paradise.” Of all the places you have performed is Karabakh your favorite?
A. Sari: To perform for Karabagh people is a great honor for us. Till now the situation there is not easy. People every day except shooting which can begin at any time. Even the day before our arrival there for concert, fire was opened on the main stadium of Stepanakert. I will not go on, my heart aches from those childhood memories of the Karabakh war. Nature there really is paradise! Each of place where we perform has it’s unique mark on our soul. You have read the interview about our trip in Armenia in 2010.
B. Seed: “.. The motivations for creating an ensemble became melancholy, uniting us all. We are guided by the motto: “What is being done contrary, dies. Everything should be in the name – in the name of the ideas in the name of the history ..”, These words you spoke, is the melancholy perhaps related to the fact that so many nations played a hand in Armenian suffering, The ethnic cleansing of Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, the constant invasions of the homeland dating back to ancient Mitanni (South-Western historical Armenia), and Hayasa-Azzi (1600-1200 BC) and the Nairi (1400-1000 BC) and the Kingdom of Urartu (1000-600 BC). Does the the pain of it play a big part in Armenian life? your life’s work? or is it only the past?
A. Sari: It is the past which we remember very well. The history of Armenia you can see in our performances. All that is against – dies. Lives forever only that is done in the name of ! This is my life motto. Only positive start, positive emotions and positive energy directed to undertaking can be continued.
B. Seed: Has you Ensemble Traveled to Turkey? if not will they?
A. Sari: We haven’t yet. We plan to and recently we received an invitation from my colleges from Turkey to take part in a festival and to show there Armenian culture. We have already accepted the invitation with our great pleasure.
B. Seed: You were invited by the National Dora Stratou Dance Theatre in Athens to carry out a comparative study between Armenian and Greek folk dances. How is that going so far?
A. Sari: This is a project for future. The results will be shown to everyone very soon.
B. Seed: Folk dances is not the only comparative study going on between Greece and Armenia. Danish linguist Holger Pedersen (April 1867 – 25 October 1953), who made significant contributions to language science and wrote about 30 authoritative works concerning several languages noted that the number of Greek-Armenian lexical cognates(the condition of sharing a common ancestor term in another language), is greater than that of agreements between Armenian and any other Indo-European language and concludes that considering both the lexicon and morphology(the scientific study of forms and structure of words in a language), Greek is clearly the dialect most closely related to Armenian,(giving rise to the possibility of a common ancestor). Have you studied or are you interested in the Greek language? does/should Greece hold a special place in your mind?
A. Sari: Nai. Katalaveno ligo ellinika(I speak and understand Greek a little). Greece holds a special place not only in my mind also in my soul. People in Greece are very alike to Armenian people. When I walk in Athens streets people think that I am Greek and started to ask me questions and start conversations in shops and coffee in Greek, they think I am Greek . Greek people gave to civilization, to the whole world a lot, almost everything was founded there: democracy, philosophy, mathematics, geometry, etc. and nowdays people are educated and progressive thanks to Greece.
B. Seed: So what’s next for Anahit Saribekyan in 2014 and beyond?
A. Sari: Live, create and rise inside!!!
B. Seed: Thanks for being her. Anything you would like to say to our viewers?
A. Sari: Thank you too again. I wish everyone only positive in new coming year and want to say that we must act and not only dream.
It’s always a pleasure to view a performance done with skill, creativity, and incredible amounts of heart, mind and soul. The Nairi Ensemble is every bit those qualities. Thanks to Anahit and all the players of Catharsis – Narekatsi – The Ensemble “NAIRI”.