Monday, August 28, 2006

joy of motion

Over the last week I've had the pleasure of visiting two arts schools- one in the outskirts of Yerevan (Hayortads Doon), and the other in Etchmiadzin (Hye Miyutyan Khatch) to see if there is a way we (AVC) can collaborate with them.

These schools offer classes in almost every Armenian art or craft (including painting, clay work, wood-work, weaving, carpet-making, painting, traditional dance, singing, theater...), and follow through with them for many years, molding their students to truly master their skill.

Walking through the hallways and observing classes in progress, seeing the children's faces, and observing humbly the small presentations they have arranged for me as their guest I can't help but smile, but at the same time feel a tug at my heart. Listening to their instructors speak about what they teach the students in a tone with such urgency moves me because I understand what they are not saying. The passing on of traditional art forms is so important to preserving the Armenian culture because it is the only thing which defines us. Beyond all the riffs in politics, and "Eastern" or "Western" dialects and traditions, in the end the traditional arts and crafts are one of the only remaining unifiers that define the culture: an Armenian carpet is an Armenian carpet for all of us. Furthermore, the nation is so sprawled across the globe and becomes difussed more and more by each generation. And so, those teachers who are passing on the trades, crafts, and skills realize that they are in fact preserving a nation with every student that learns how to use the loom, that learns a dance or a song.

Additionally if anyone has spent a lot of time with Armenians you'll notice a sort of stoicism or mysticism which surrounds the way they talk about Art. It is almost held in as high regard (perhaps higher for some people) as religion. The way Komitas composed Armenian church music to be so beautiful that it feels miles above the secular world, Armenians consider their art as something higher than mundane reality.

A very frequent preface I've heard from artists in Armenia is "if you are close to art, you'll understand..." and then they continue with whatever it is they were explaining- but meanwhile their eyes are searching your face to see if you are someone "close to art". To see if you do have that depth in your soul to truly see through the surface and understand what he or she is showing you.

I found myself beginning to tear when one of the dance groups performed for me. They danced a lovely modern choreography to one of Ara Gevorgian's arrangements, and the lights, the stage, the movements, the corrections made by their choreographer, the rehearsal attire, all took me back to so many years where I too shared that world of dance. I remember once writing in a journal about how I feel about dance after a particularly frustrating performance: "I know it's love because it makes me cry every time."

1 comment:

Ani A said...

Miss you lots Noushlan