First steps in the field of Armenian stage dance and ballet were made in the XIX century in Western Armenian cultural centers under the influence of classical French dance. The formation of the classical school of Armenian dance art continued in the XX century this time under the influence of the Russian imperial ballet.
The Development of the Armenian Ballet
The Armenian ballet was founded in the Ottoman Empire among the Armenians of Istanbul. The first stable ballet group operated at “Aramyan Theater”. Among the dancers were Gevorg Chilinkiryan (Zene Gevorg), dancers Taguhi, Antique, Marie, Italian and French dancers. The formation of the Armenian Opera Theatre greatly contributed to the development of the Armenian stage dance. The opera performances were staged by Eranos Ghaprast, who initiated an 1868 dance-ball school in Constantinople, then in Smyrna and Adana.
In the XIX century (the 60s and 70s), public figure G. Kostandyan, actors G. Rshtuni and A ․ Penklyan, T․ Chukhajyan, who created many household dances, dance scenes in “Arif”, “Kyose Kehya”, “Leblebiji Hor-Hayr Agha” operettas, ballet interludes in “Arshak B” and “Zemire”, operas started creating dances. From the ’70s, on the stage of the Eastern Armenian Theater Armenian-Asian dances were performed both in the plays and concerts of the Armenian playwrights. As early as 1900, V. Khachikyan (Constantinople) participated in the Paris World Festival with oriental dances.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a rapid development of stage dance in Eastern Armenia, which was connected with the further rise of the musical theater. Armenian dancers performed in famous operetta groups. Albert (G․ Shahinov), a performer of Asian dances, performed at the Tbilissi (Tbilisi) Opera and Ballet Theater in the 1920s.
Dancer Korgananov was a soloist in Baku in the 1910s at the Mayilian Theater, the Amirago Operetta, and in the 1920s, a soloist at the Baku Opera and Ballet Theater. In Baku, was composing dance director S Kevorkov, who contributed to the development of the Azerbaijani national ballet. In 1910, he founded the first drama group in Tehran. In the 1910s, dancer Armen Ohanyan was particularly well-known, he performed at Eastern dance and Isadora Duncan’s freestyle”.
In 1917, S. S. Lisitsian founded a studio named “Pronunciation Rhythm and Plasticity” in Tiflis (renamed “the Institute of Rhythm and Plasticity” in 1924). In the 1920s, several Armenian ballet actors were studying in Tbilisi (Georgia). Perini and S․ Mordkin, Baku’s St. In Korkov’s studios, they had become the soloists of famous opera and ballet theaters. I. Arbatov (Tsaghubyan), one of the founders of the Armenian National Ballet, has been working at the Batumi Theater since 1922, and from 1926 at the Ballet Opera and Ballet Theaters in Tbilisi (Georgia), Tashkent, Ashgabat, Baku, Ufa, Kazan, and Kharkov. From 1922, the Armenian Theater of Music Rostov-on-Don operated under the direction of M. Vanshir.
Ballet in Soviet Armenia
Dance schools were established in Soviet Armenia in the 1920s. In 1923 the Alexandropol (Gyumri) opera-operetta theater group (conductor Sh․ Talyan) was organized. In 1923-24, St. Mkhitaryan’s household dances and V․ Avetikyan’s rhythm and plastic schools were founded. In 1924, V. Aristakesyan established the State Dance Studio in Yerevan, where Armenian, Caucasian, classical, and characteristic dances were taught. In 1926, for the first time in Yerevan, the two-dimensional staging of “Bullies” and Delibi’s “Coppelia” ballet were presented. In 1927, the studio participated in the jubilee art review of the peoples of the USSR in Moscow.
In 1927 a rhythm and plastic studio was established in Yerevan. In 1930, a combination of two studios and schools formed the Yerevan School of Rhythm, Plastic, and Physical Education, which in 1931 became the Rhythmic Plastic and Dance School, and in 1937 – the Yerevan Dance School. In 1962, a dance studio was founded in Ijevan. In 1980, the Chamber Ballet Group of Radio and Television of Armenia was established (director and balletmaster Roland Kharatyan).
The troupe of the Opera and Ballet Theater opened in Yerevan in 1933 (since 1939 after A. Spendiaryan) and the ballet studio attached to the theater (1934) created by V. Presnyakov. The theater troupe performed at the opening of the theater for the first time in the scenes of Spendiaryan’s “Diamond” opera (1933, choreographers: V. Aristakesyan, V. Presnyakov). In 1938, the troupe was completed by graduates of the Leningrad Dance College. During that time Reinecke also worked in the theater. He staged his first performance at the theater was Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” (1935).
The principles of national professional dance art have been developed in national operas of the same period. A special event was Khachatryan’s “Happiness” ballet (1939), where the People’s Artist of the Armenian SSR I. Arbatov first synthesized the classical ballet and the Armenian folk dance.
Invited to Leningrad in 1947, L. Semanova, I. Ushakova, and V․ Borisov with their activities enriched the Armenian ballet with the performance traditions of the Leningradyan (St. Petersburg) school.
As early as the 1960s and 1970s, Armenian composers created several pieces that reflected the close connection between the sounds and expressions of symphonic music and musical theater.
In 1967-71, M. Martirosyan was the artistic director of the Spendiaryan Theater. With his performances, he enriched the national dance with new artistic means of expression, such as the unique ratio of classical, modern and Armenian folk dance elements, and related art (especially Armenian jewelry and miniatures). In the 1960s and 1980s, dancers from opera and ballet theaters of Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Tbilisi, Odessa staged ballets at the Spendiaryan Theater. Among them were S. Sergeyev, N. Dudinskaya, Yu Zhdanov, O. Vinogradov, T. Nikitina, G ․ Aleksidze, N ․ Rizhenko, and V․ Smirnov-Golovanov.
The principles of national professional dance art have been developed in national operas of the same period. A special event was Khachatryan’s “Happiness” (1939), where the People’s Artist of the Armenian SSR I. Arbatov first synthesized the classical ballet and the Armenian folk dance and language.
After Armenia’s independence, the Armenian ballet found itself in a difficult situation due to the socio-economic situation in the country. One of the most serious challenges facing the Armenian Ballet is the training of professionals and the issue of generational change in the absence of a dance school. The development of ballet is highly dependent on state support, as over the years it has lost its former publicity and broad public sympathy.
However, due to the activities of many famous composers, the Armenian ballet is replenished with new performances. Stepan Lusikyan’s “Dragonfly and the Ant”, Tigran Mansuryan’s “Snow Queen” (1990), Loris Tchgnavoryan’s “Othello” (1993), E. Hovhannisyan’s “Vardanank” (2008) and other ballets. Conductors Ohan Durian, Yuri Davtyan, Karen Durgaryan, Konstantin Orbelyan, and others contributed to the development of the ballet.
Forceful feeling․ Episode․
E. Hambardzumyan «Dream»