Chew on This with Natalie Kamajian

  • Tuesday, April 13, 2021
    2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Performing Paradox: Balleticized Bodies and Soviet Cultural Hegemony in Armenian Stage Dance
Tuesday, April 13th 2:00 PM PST on ZOOM
Meeting ID: 972 2986 9410
Passcode: 1347927962
One tap mobile:
US: +12133388477,,97229869410# or +16692192599,,97229869410#

The official state-sanctioned dance form in Armenia, bemakan par (or “stage dance”), is undoubtedly derived from the movement principles and aesthetics of ballet. A Soviet-era form developed throughout the twentieth century, bemakan par was and continues to be a vital aspect of Armenian identity both in the Republic of Armenia and the greater diaspora. Though bemakan par alleges the preservation and presentation of “ancient Armenian traditions” in its “purest” form, it ironically stifles Armenian aesthetics, expurgating them in order to enact balletic and Eurocentric notions of choreography, professionalism, bodily discipline, and virtuosity. Using an interdisciplinary methodology combining over eight years of ethnographic research, archival research, discourse analysis, choreographic analysis, and my own dance practice, I apprehend the legacy of bemakan par and how it allegorizes and enacts in the body the very phenomenon of Western and Soviet Russian dominance over Armenian indigenous heritage.

Natalie Kamajian is a third year Culture and Performance PhD student. Her dissertation will constitute the first critical investigation and multilingual study of Armenian dance and its competing aesthetic expressions and socio-political framings. Her research inquiries stem from an in-depth Armenian vernacular dance and teaching practice, including leading a performance ensemble in LA.

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