Carolyn Rapkievian & Kristine Antanesian
Master Armenian dancer Carolyn Rapkievian has been teaching Kristine Antanesian traditional Armenian dances from the Anatolia region. Many of these dances are in danger of dying out due to a long history of political and social repression that culminated in the 1915 expulsion and genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. This tragedy saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians. The Anatolian homeland is in Turkey; this region’s cultural traditions were dealt a nearly fatal blow. Today, even 100 years later, Armenians are still struggling to hold onto a cultural heritage that was nearly lost.
Carolyn grew up in an Armenian family and learned dances from her grandparents and other family elders who escaped the genocide in their youth. Traditionally, music and dance accompanied everything from family celebrations to work in the fields. Like much Eastern music, Armenian music is modal, based on untempered scales instead of octaves, with unusual rhythms such as 5/4 and 9/8 time.
Traditional Armenian dance from Anatolia includes unique line and circle dances, graceful improvisations featuring delicate arm and hand movements, and lively energetic dances. From Carolyn, Kristine is learning how to teach these dances as well as the history of each one. Carolyn is also instructing Kristine about how to work collaboratively with live musicians for performances and for public dance workshops. At the National, the two will be joined by the Hyetones, a trio—David Rapkievian on oud, Kylie Hilali on kanoun, and Cindy Connelly-Ryan on percussion—that performs traditional Armenian music.