Haygagan Bar: Embodying the Homeland through Armenian Dance (Part 1)

Written by Abbie Tarpinian Porto

02 June 2024

This piece is part of a research series that will be released in five parts, over a period of 5 weeks. Watch the Azad website and Instagram pages for the release of Part 2 next week. You can find additional information on the text, as well as scholarly citations, in the footnotes at the bottom of the page.

Photo from Lernazang Ensemble. This article was originally written as a thesis for the MA Program in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, and has been adapted for publication here.

Part 1: Armenian Dance and Diaspora

When Armenians still lived throughout Anatolia, a deep connection to the Armenian Highlands inspired folklore and religious belief. Mountains were the homes of dragons, the birthplaces of heroes, the earthly ancestors of the Armenian people, and even the resting place of Noah’s Ark, a belief still widely held today. Then, the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 took Armenians away from their mountains, securing this land as a part of the modern Republic of Turkey through forced deportation and systematic killing. Turkish authorities attempted to completely remove any trace of Armenians from the land on which they had lived for centuries. Mount Ararat, a prominent symbol of Armenian culture and identity, stands just outside of the Republic of Armenia’s borders. Immediately to the west is the mountain range called Haygagan Bar in Armenian, literally “Armenian Dance” in English.1 Though these mountains reside within current Turkish borders, Armenians still view them as part of the Armenian homeland.

Haygagan Bar represents an Armenia that is lost to Armenians, a piece of the earth that is materially inaccessible but retains its Armenianness in cultural memory. The name of this mountain range, “Armenian Dance,” points to a link between ideas of Armenian cultural identity and the physical land. The mountains themselves are dancing with Armenians. Dance is a strong cultural symbol for Armenians, serving as a “language for expressing national realities,”2 suggesting a connection between dance and the Armenian concept of homeland. Armenians also use dance as symbolic political resistance, as exemplified by the Armenians in Martuni who danced a shurjpar/shurchbar3on Christmas, January 6, 2023, during the nearly year-long blockade of Artsakh by the Azerbaijani military. Faced with asserting the contentious idea of belonging to the land, in many cases, the Armenian response is to dance.

For members of the Armenian diaspora, having a concept of homeland is intrinsic to the diasporic experience and informs diasporan identity. While living in dispersion, diasporans are shaped by both cultural memories from their homeland and daily realities in their home country. With these various, sometimes contradictory, influences, Armenians in diaspora often use music and dance to navigate their identities and form communities. Dance acts as a connection to homeland, a way to preserve cultural memory, as a means of community and identity formation, and as a strong emotional and physical experience of being Armenian.

Armenian dance can be split into three distinct types. First, staged dance, called bemakan/pemagan or bemadrvats/pematrvadz4, is the most visible form of Armenian dance. It is choreographed and presented typically as a narrative to an audience, often using elements of ballet, and the dancers wear pristine costumes inspired by traditional Armenian clothing. Second, the azgagrakan/azkakragan5 dance style, called ethnographic or vernacular dance, is based in the ethnographic study of traditional Armenian dances, and its practitioners emphasize the communal aspect of dancing and its cultural revival. Though an audience is not necessary, groups like the Karin Folk Dance Ensemble in Armenia and Lernazang Ensemble in Los Angeles teach and perform azgagrakan dance to a wide audience. Finally, shurchbar refers to the casual kind of dance seen at parties, picnics, and other events.

In this study, I specifically focus on the shurchbar context developed by Armenians in the United States. While shurchbar can refer to any Armenian circle dance, even in ethnographic and, to a lesser extent, staged dance, I primarily use the word to refer to dances that are not performed for an audience but danced for fun in the context of a social gathering. In this sense, ethnographic dance and shurchbar certainly overlap, but their tones slightly differ, since ethnographic dance, as a conscious act of cultural revival, often has a more serious approach. All three forms, staged, ethnographic, and shurchbar, are part of Armenian dance, as people dance each form to enact their Armenianness and connect to the homeland.

History and Study of Armenian Dance

Armenian ethnomusicology starts with the work of Komitas,6 the priest and scholar often credited with being one of the first ethnomusicologists, as he collected and studied music in Armenian villages beginning in the 1880s. Most discussions of Armenian music are almost obligated to mention Komitas because his work is a main reason there is still access to much Armenian folk knowledge after the Genocide. This collection of folk songs was in part a nationalist project for Komitas, as he intended his work to promote Armenian national unity. In the late 19th century, urban Armenians in the Ottoman Empire started taking more political action informed by an increasing Armenian national consciousness.7 This period of growing nationalism was not unique to Armenians, of course, as people throughout the Ottoman Empire and Europe started to attach ethnic and national identity to cultural expressions like music, creating the idea of folk culture.8 Komitas grew up during this period of national self-awareness, undoubtedly influenced by the popular sentiment that Armenians are their own unique group of people deserving of a distinct national identity. For Komitas, folk music was a valuable element of culture to include in the effort to uplift Armenia as a nation.9 Komitas sought Armenians who created music with little to no foreign (i.e., Arab, Turkish, Persian, or European) influence, and he claimed to find this in rural villages.10 It was important for him to note these distinctions because he wanted to show that Armenians have their own culture, and therefore deserve their own place in the world. In fact, Komitas purposely ignored some forms of Armenian music because they did not fit his idea of authentic Armenianness, such as the urban music more susceptible to diverse cultural influences.11 This desire for authenticity still affects the creation, reception, and scholarship of Armenian musical culture today.

Alongside the documentation of songs for which he is best-known, Komitas provides the earliest written accounts of Armenian dance that attempt to discuss the practice’s social functions.12 In particular, he details how people create folk songs while dancing a shurchbar, in this case a circle dance during a holiday, special occasion, or time of recreation. During a circle dance, a group of people stood in a circle while a song leader started the dance by singing a melody. The group then repeated the leader’s song while continuing the dance, and once this first melody ended, the group leader changed. The new leader sang their own version of the song, adding complexity and personal touches. This process continued as new people took over the leader position, and the group elaborated upon the song until the end of the dance. Komitas explained the circle dance as a collaborative endeavor that fostered community and reflected the importance of living and working together in village life.13 Since this early look at dance in rural Armenian villages, over a century has passed, and Armenians now also dance in places like US cities, bringing elements of the homeland with them in diaspora. As members of one of the oldest recognized diasporas, Armenians abroad still contend with unresolved questions of identity, belonging, and home. The concept of homeland among Armenians in diaspora is a contentious issue that can elicit emotionally charged and ambivalent responses, including various understandings of what the homeland actually is. While there is no single definition of an Armenian homeland, the idea remains important in the overall cultural imagination. For diaspora scholar Susan P. Pattie, Armenians in diaspora generally share a growing comfort in treating the diaspora as “home,” meaning they feel secure living outside of Armenia.14 According to Khachig Tölölyan, “The homeland is not home. It is a place to care about, but not a place in which and to which one can whole-heartedly belong” (emphasis in original).15 In this sense, there is a distinct difference between home and homeland, further complicating the desire of diasporans to “return” to the homeland.16 Diasporans feel a pull between these places, unable to strictly define the place they call home.

Likewise, Sossie Kasbarian explores this myth of return, examining how some Armenians conceive of what it might mean to return to the homeland. Kasbarian works from the common assumption that Western Armenia is inaccessible, gone forever to Armenians, and that it is completely out of the question to think about returning to Western Armenia.17 Nevertheless, many view the Republic of Armenia as what Kasbarian terms a “step” homeland, an actual state that serves as a kind of surrogate homeland. This is why some diasporans consider moving to the Republic of Armenia as a kind of return, even though neither they nor their ancestors have lived in that particular land. At the same time, having an idea of homeland, no matter how precarious, is important because diasporan identity is always oriented towards a homeland.18 Diasporans must be dispersed from somewhere. Because of this, many diasporans support the Republic of Armenia in various ways, such as donating money, visiting for vacation, or supporting different political efforts, but most ultimately do not make the decision to move their homes and families to the Republic.19

Each community of Armenians in diaspora is shaped differently by their respective home countries, contributing to various ways of being Armenian. Generally, Armenians in the US have adopted the kind of hyphenated identity that many ethnic groups claim while living in the US, effectively becoming Armenian-Americans. Anny Bakalian’s work with Armenian-Americans in the 1970s and ’80s is a foundational source for understanding the idea of Armenianness in the US and the social and cultural changes in the larger Armenian-American community. Bakalian lays important groundwork for discussions of Armenian identity in diaspora with her depiction of people moving from “being” to “feeling” Armenian the longer a family lives away from the homeland. In other words, an Armenian who moves to the US has specific lived experiences of “being” Armenian, while they raise their children to “feel” connected to these experiences that are not their own. The children then adopt what Bakalian calls “symbolic ethnicity,” an internal understanding of themselves rather than an outward behavior.20 This process continues as later generations move towards an emphasis of cultural memory further removed from the experiences of their Armenian ancestors, claiming their identities through ethnic signifiers. For example, symbolic expressions like cooking Armenian food only for special occasions are easy to integrate into daily life in the United States without appearing too far outside the American norm.21 In this way, Bakalian argues that Armenian-Americans do not actively practice Armenianness, at least not in the same way as their ancestors or relatives did in the homeland. According to her, Armenian-Americans feel Armenian without strictly enacting Armenian social practices, thus creating a specific identity informed by but not quite the same as being Armenian.

While my research interests stem from Bakalian’s assertion that Armenian identity is something that people “feel,” I maintain that many Armenian-Americans do in fact enact Armenianness. This may reflect a shift in Armenian-American identity since the 1980s and early ‘90s, especially as the world has now seen two wars in Artsakh, and Armenians continue to face threats from their political neighbors, intensifying the impulse to claim and enact Armenian identity. The Armenian-Americans that I interviewed emphasize their actions and participation in Armenian culture as important facets of their Armenian identities. This contemporary view of Armenianness aligns with Bakalian’s understanding that Armenian-American identity shifts between time and place, with constants being the collective memory of genocide and a perceived connection to a common homeland.22 Taking this idea of a felt connection to homeland, I consider how music and dance maintain this connection and how the act of dancing facilitates the ongoing creation of Armenian-American identity.

Music and dance are powerful signifiers and ways of enacting Armenian identity. Though her work questions the idea of a unified Armenian diaspora, Anahid Kassabian shows that music is a connective force between Armenians and their perceptions of their own cultural identities.23 In her own life, Kassabian mentions feeling disconnected from the Armenian community, but eventually finding other diasporan Armenians like herself through experimental music that combines elements of “post-Ottoman” musical styles with jazz. This combination of disparate musical elements into something new and unique resonates with Kassabian as an Armenian in diaspora, and she expresses the strong relief and comfort she felt upon forming a community around this blended diasporic music.24 This Armenian jazz fusion evokes such powerful emotion that Kassabian describes it as “a healing balm for the scars of fragmented identities…. When we can hear ourselves so beautifully sung, some of the strangeness of living diasporically becomes, itself, beauty.”25 Experiences with music such as these exemplify how music and Armenian diasporan identity inform each other.

Similarly, Sylvia Alajaji explores how Armenians have used and created music in the diaspora since the Genocide, claiming that Armenians in exile have found the idea of home in music itself. Through archival research and ethnographic interviews, Alajaji reconstructs the musical landscape of four different centers of the Armenian diaspora (pre-genocide Ottoman Empire, New York, Beirut, and California) during specific points in the twentieth century. Alajaji explains that for Armenians, music provides a way to control the narratives of Armenian history and identity.26 For example, Armenian choirs in Lebanon performed songs that spread nationalist ideas of a romanticized Armenian homeland that existed only in collective memory. Additionally, the near obsession with preserving folk music from Western Armenia, in the tradition of Komitas, served the desire to claim a presence in and a right to this lost homeland.27 Alajaji describes this impulse to use music as a means by which to create identity best when she writes, 

When the past and present are in question, the need to control the lens through which they are seen becomes urgent and palpable. Music’s flexibilities–its negotiable and permeable boundaries–allow it to traverse and prioritize the many layers that threaten and complicate a people’s semblance of meaning. For the Armenian diaspora, the layers and traumas are many, and, as these snapshots will reveal, so are the meanings.28

When dealing with the legacies of genocide, cultural adjustments during life in exile, and alienation from wider society, music seems to be the only thing that makes sense. Although several scholars of Armenian diasporan culture like Kassabian and Alajaji take an ethnomusicological approach to study this kind of emotional connection to the idea of Armenianness and homeland, I suggest there is something specific about the physical act of dance, or perhaps a combination of this particular type of listening and movement joined together, that facilitates a strong emotional link to a distant land.

To better understand the distinct role of dance in culture, I look to dance ethnographers Theresa Buckland and Adrienne L. Kaeppler to understand how anthropologists use dance as an ethnographic tool. According to Buckland, the human body contains and transmits culture through dance.29 In order to examine this, scholars use dance ethnography to study embodied cultural knowledge. Kaeppler proposes an understanding of dance as “a socially constructed system of knowledge” that “creates new meanings by combining old forms in new ways.”30 This conception of dance is similar to the ways Kassabian and Alajaji treat music, suggesting that the aural cultural production in music exists in tandem with the physical cultural knowledge in dance. In practice, Anthony Shay uses dance ethnography to examine state folk dance ensembles from the former Soviet Union. He views traditional dance as an embodied representation of unspoken social realities while emphasizing the limitations of state dance ensembles to be completely “authentic” in their representations of folk culture.31 He indicates that although state dance ensembles do not convey the same meanings as folk dance in its original context, they do offer a means of social analysis of their particular political situations. Much like Shay, I aim to treat both staged and social forms of dance as “related but separate genres,”32 using the three dance types of staged, ethnographic, and shurchbar to inform a more comprehensive understanding of Armenian dance in its entirety.

This leads me to ask, does dance lead to the formation of Armenian community? How might dancing connect one to the idea of “Armenianness?” How is dance used to educate and connect young people to their Armenian culture? How might dance connect diasporans to the idea of an Armenian homeland? Scholarship on Armenian dance in particular largely follows from the work of Soviet Armenian scholar Srbuhi Lisitsyan, who documented both staged and traditional Armenian dances starting in the 1930s, providing an extensive foundation of Armenian dance knowledge.33 In the foreword to the 2013 edition of one of Lisitsyan’s volumes, Ancient Armenian Dances, Tigran Hakobyan compares Lisitsyan to Komitas, claiming that she showed the “purely Armenian” character of the dances she documented.34 Indeed, much like Komitas, Lisitsyan focused on ethnographic material to preserve and record an Armenian dance heritage that might otherwise have been lost and is now deemed truly “authentic.”

One unique, socially-focused treatment of Armenian dance comes not from a dance scholar or even an ethnomusicologist, but from Armenian historian Levon Abrahamian in his essay detailing the 2005 circle dance around Mt. Aragats to celebrate the Republic of Armenia’s independence day that year. The goal of the national event was to “recreate the ethnographic mosaic of historical Armenia” by having Armenians representing the different regions, including diasporan Armenians, all join hands in a circle dance around the tallest mountain in the country.35 Participants in this dance expressed feeling a strong sense of unity, some even mentioning a physical sensation they likened to a spiritual experience. In discussing the cultural symbolism and significance of that particular political moment, Abrahamian writes, “Even the mountains were imagined as participants of the circle dance.”36 This explicit connection between Armenian dance and Armenian land leads me to think about how Armenians in diaspora experience this embodied relationship.

More recently, current PhD student at UCLA, Natalie Kamajian, who studies the differences between bemakan and azgagrakan Armenian dance and their respective socio-political implications, has found that the types of dance Armenians practice and watch inform their understandings of Armenianness itself.37 In her Master’s thesis, Kamajian examines the ways that azgagrakan dance, or “vernacular dance” as she calls it, is associated with a perceived revival of indigenous Armenian culture. By learning and participating in dance forms originating from historic Armenia, Armenians actively remember an idea of homeland while attempting to combat cultural erasure.38 Kamajian stresses the two defining features of Armenian vernacular dance, reciprocative movement and groundedness, as physical enactments of connection to community and to the land.39 Kamajian thus claims that “dance not only functions as a survival strategy but also affirms a particular corporeality rooted in the collective memory of a lost homeland.”40 The physicality of dance directly relates to Armenian understandings of homeland and community. As Kamajian’s work strongly informs my own research, I include an interview with her in the ethnographic section of this article series to provide the unique perspective of an Armenian-American dancer and researcher focused on ethnographic dance, as opposed to staged dance or shurchbar.

Finally, in looking at the experiences of Armenians specifically in the United States, I consider the particular context of Armenian-American shurchbars. In the 1970s, Gary and Susan Lind-Sinanian published a collection of dances they observed and learned at Armenian-American parties. They aimed to provide a teachable list of popular dances stemming from Western Armenian tradition, though they mention that the dances listed “might be Armenian, Greek, Turkish, Arabic, or simply made up [by Armenian-Americans].”41 Here the Lind-Sinanians describe the new dance form created by Armenians in America:

The dances done today at Armenian-American parties are often not the dances done back in Armenia, but are of American origin. These constitute a new dance form uniquely Armenian-American, the Contemporary Party Dance. Often several different dances will be done to the same music, so that at a party different groups will do their particular favorite dance simultaneously. The dances notated here are some of the popular dances done to this music today by the present generation at social functions. Several of the traditional village dances, now largely ignored by the young, are also included here for those like ourselves who are interested in preserving the old village dances, which can still be seen occasionally at picnics. 

They mainly include dances from the Armenian communities in the northeastern United States,42 but they also mention that some dances, such as some variations of the “Hop,” were originated by California Armenians (though the most popular version in New England is called the “Michigan Hop”). Nearly every dance in the collection has several variants based on regional differences and closeness to Western Armenian tradition. The Lind-Sinanians note the difficulty of tracking and recording these dances, mentioning that, “Many of the new dances have no ‘official’ names, and are called different, ambiguous ones. There are literally dozens of different contemporary party dances called ‘Shuffle,’ ‘Hop,’ ‘Two-Step,’ ‘The Greek Thing,’ and other similarly vague names.” Since the Lind-Sinanians’ writing in the 1970s, Armenian-Americans have continued dancing these contemporary shurchbars, keeping them largely in memory and practice rather than consistently documenting the steps in writing, thus allowing them to change over time.

From Komitas to Kamajian, people have wondered about the cultural significance of Armenian dance, some even bringing this curiosity with them in diaspora. I tie together these discussions of dance, diaspora, and Armenianness itself to look closely at what dancing does for Armenians in America. In navigating the complexities of diasporic identity and feeling the need to preserve and enact Armenianness while separated from Armenian land, diasporans dance to both feel and be Armenian.

Armenian Dance in Chicago and Beyond

My research includes interviews and conversations with members of Armenian dance groups in the United States and other Armenian-Americans, not in ensembles, who dance for fun in casual Armenian settings like parties or events. Thus, my interviews include perspectives from across the staged, ethnographic, and shurchbar contexts of Armenian dance. These dancers are young Armenians, ranging in age from early 20s to early 30s, and active in their communities. The Armenians represented here are: several dancers from each of the Armenian dance ensembles in Chicago, Jirair, Elen, Levon, Lilit, Lusineh, Chris, Alice, and Sevag; Natalie, the PhD researcher of Armenian dance at UCLA and co-founder of Lernazang Dance Ensemble; and Van and Gaïdz, college students from New Jersey and California respectively, both involved in their school’s Armenian Student Association (ASA).43 As a fellow Armenian student, I participated in ASA meetings this year and got to know the school’s small Armenian community. Additionally, I attended performances of both of Chicago’s Armenian dance groups: the Sardarabad Dance Ensemble of Hamazkayin Chicago in March 2023, and the Siragan Armenian Dance Company of Chicago in June 2023. I use observations from these events to supplement the conversations I had with their dancers. As an Armenian-American myself, though not previously involved in Armenian community events in Chicago, I am able to access these spaces both as a researcher and as a fellow Armenian. I use my own Armenianness as a lens to contextualize and understand how others experience being Armenian while still accepting some distance as a researcher, a person not already involved in these established communities, and a person with one non-Armenian parent.

In this research, I investigate how diasporan Armenians in the United States experience an embodied, emotional connection to Armenia and Armenians through dance. I start with a general discussion of what homeland means for Armenians and situate dance within these understandings. Then, focusing on the desire for cultural preservation, I examine how Armenians use dance to present particular narratives, sometimes stemming from romantic nationalism. This romanticized presentation can alienate those who do not fit within a narrow version of Armenianness, and I further explore how many Armenians shift away from this fixity by making dance more relevant to their own contexts. I show how these Armenians create community while incorporating dance into their everyday lives. Moreover, dance evokes strong emotions that reinforce these social connections and elicit embodied feelings of homeland. In this way, Armenians dance to establish community and experience a sense of homeland through feeling and being with other Armenian people.

Note: This piece is part of a series. Read part two here.

1Throughout this paper I use the transliteration of Armenian words from quotes and writing consistent with each speaker’s own pronunciation or usage, reflecting the linguistic diversity of Armenians in the US.
2Levon Abrahamian, “Dancing around the Mountain: Armenian Identity through Rites of Solidarity,” in Caucasus Paradigms: Anthropologies, Histories, and the Making of the World Area, ed. Bruce Grant and Lale Yalçin-Heckmann (Münster, Germany: LIT Verlag, 2008), 179.
3Շուրջպար (Eng: circle dance)
4 Բեմական (Eng: relating to the stage), բեմադրուած (Eng: staged)
5 Ազգագրական (Eng: ethnographic; also sometimes translated as “vernacular” in the context of dance)
6 Komitas is widely known simply as his ordained name, Komitas, sometimes followed by the title vardapet/vartabed (վարդապետ, a title in the Armenian Apostolic Church of highly educated priests and teachers, similar to a doctor of theology). The Western Armenian transliteration, Gomidas, is used much less frequently in academic literature. His birth name was Soghomon Soghomonian.
7 George Bournoutian, A Concise History of the Armenian People, 7th ed. (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 2018), 203-206.
8 The concept of folk culture as something to be claimed and preserved comes from ideas of romantic nationalism that prioritize a national or ethnic culture that is distinguishable and clearly defined. In this sense, folklore is intentionally created and sustained through an imagined continuity. For more on nationalism and folk music, see Martin Stokes, ed., Ethnicity, Identity, and Music: The Musical Construction of Place (Oxford: Berg, 1994); and Donna A. Buchanan, ed., Balkan Popular Culture and the Ottoman Ecumene: Music, Image, and Regional Political Discourse (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007).
9 Sirvart Poladian, “Komitas Vardapet and His Contribution to Ethnomusicology,” Ethnomusicology 16, no. 1 (1972): 87-88.
10 Komitas, Komitas Essays and Articles: The Musicological Treatises of Komitas Vardapet, trans. Vatsche Barsoumian (Pasadena, CA: Drazark Publishing, 2001), 26.
11 Poladian, “Komitas Vardapet,” 87.
12 Komitas, Komitas Essays, 32.
13 Komitas, Komitas Essays, 27-32.
14Susan P. Pattie, “Longing and Belonging: Issues of Homeland in Armenian Diaspora,” Political and Legal Anthropology Review 22, no. 2 (1999): 86.
15 Khachig Tölölyan, “Beyond the Homeland: From Exilic Nationalism to Diasporic Transnationalism,” in The Call of the Homeland: Diaspora Nationalisms, Past and Present, ed. Allon Gal, Athena S. Leoussi, and Anthony D. Smith (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2010), 36.
16 Pattie, “Longing and Belonging,” 89.
17 Sossie Kasbarian, “The Myth and Reality of ‘Return’—Diaspora in the ‘Homeland,'” Diaspora 18, no. 3 (2015): 359.
18 Tölölyan, “Beyond the Homeland,” 35.
19 For discussion of those diasporans who do actually move to the Republic, see Daniel Fittante, “Connection without Engagement: Paradoxes of North American Armenian Return Migration,” Diaspora 19, no. 2/3 (Spring 2017).
20 Anny Bakalian, Armenian-Americans: From Being to Feeling Armenian (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1994), 6.
21 Bakalian, Armenian-Americans, 44-46.
22 Bakalian, Armenian-Americans, 8.
23 Anahid Kassabian, Ubiquitous Listening: Affect, Attention, and Distributed Subjectivity (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2013), 21.
24 Kassabian, Ubiquitous Listening, 74-78.
25 Kassabian, Ubiquitous Listening, 82.
26 Sylvia Angelique Alajaji, Music and the Armenian Diaspora: Searching for Home in Exile (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2015), 2-3.
27 Alajaji, Music and the Armenian Diaspora, 15-17.
28 Alajaji, Music and the Armenian Diaspora, 22.
29 Theresa Jill Buckland, “Dance, History, and Ethnography: Frameworks, Sources, and Identities of Past and Present,” in Dancing from Past to Present: Nation, Culture, Identities (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), 16.
30 Adrienne L. Kaeppler, “The Mystique of Fieldwork,” in Dance in the Field: Theory, Methods, and Issues in Dance Ethnography, ed. Theresa J. Buckland (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 22-23.
31 Anthony Shay, “Parallel Traditions: State Folk Dance Ensembles and Folk Dance in ‘The Field,'” Dance Research Journal 31, no. 1 (1999): 35, 51.
32 Shay, “Parallel Traditions,” 31.
33 Natalie Kamajian, “Performing Paradox: Balleticized Bodies and the Construction of Modernity in Armenian Concert Dance” (master’s thesis, University of California Los Angeles, 2022), 16.
34 Srbuhi Lisitsyan, Հայկական Հինավուրց Պարեր [Ancient Armenian Dances], trans. Hakob Soghomonyan (Yerevan, Armenia: Hovhannes Sharambeyan Center of Folk Art, 2013), 4.
35 Abrahamian, “Dancing around the Mountain,” in Caucasus Paradigms, 169.
36 Abrahamian, “Dancing around the Mountain,” in Caucasus Paradigms, 179.
37 For more on Kamajian’s work, see Shushan Karapetian and Natalie Kamajian, “Language Therapy with Dr. K | Vernaculars of Armenian Dance,” June 10, 2021, in Unpacking Armenian Studies, podcast, audio, https://armenianstudies.libsyn.com/language-therapy-with-dr-k-0.
38 Kamajian, “Performing Paradox,” 39.
39 Kamajian, “Performing Paradox,” 6. It is interesting to note Kamajian’s use of the word “reciprocative,” not “reciprocated,” perhaps to describe the movement as active and ongoing, rather than as a reaction.
40 Kamajian, “Performing Paradox,” 93.
41 Gary Lind-Sinanian and Susan Lind-Sinanian, Dance Armenian: A Collection of Armenian Dances as Danced at Contemporary Armenian-American Parties, 2nd ed. (Lexington, MA: Folk Arts Center of New England, 1978).
42 For a brief look at the history of Armenian-American dance on the East Coast, see Carolyn Rapkievian, “‘One, Two, Three; Step, Swing’ Armenian Dance Across Generations,” Smithsonian Folklife Festival, May 2, 2018, https://festival.si.edu/blog/armenian-dance-across-generations.
43 All names used are pseudonyms, except for Natalie, who allowed me to use her name as she also works in this academic field.