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Stage is set for Orange County’s Yeraz (Armenian Dance) performance

June 2, 2013
6:00 pmto8:00 pm
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Contact: houshig Arslanian, (714) 403-0875,

Stage is Set for Orange County’s Yeraz Performance

SANTA ANA – Forty young Armenian dancers ranging in age from four to 19 are holding their final rehearsals this month ahead of their Sunday, June 2nd performance at the Forty Martyrs Church hall.

Community organizer and head of the “Hamazkayin” Armenian Educational and Cultural Society Siamanto chapter Shoushig Arslanian says the upcoming Yeraz Armenian School of Dance show weaves the tale of a boy who falls asleep after a long day at school and dreams of traveling to Armenia.

“We are calling the show the Story of a Dream Come True,” says Shoushig. “The kids are excited, their parents are excited, and our entire community is excited. All of us together are going to see the students’ long hours of practice and commitment to our culture displayed in a beautiful show.”

Professional dancer Artur Aleksanyan has been at the helm of the Yeraz Armenian School of Dance since last fall, when he and his fellow dancers from the world renowned Hamazkayin Ani Dance Company performed in Orange County. The 20-year-old says seeing the kids give it their all is inspirational.

“The main character in our show is trying to find his way to Armenia,” explains Artur. “He gets lost along the way, encounters several foreign cultures, and heeds the advice of friendly gypsy boys, who point him in the right direction.”

Artur says the boy spends the remainder of his dream marveling in awe of the stories told through music, movements and the mosaic of interwoven cultures.

“Our Armenian dance school began ten years ago with Pearlene Varjabedian,” says Shoushig. “When she left for Boston to be with her family, we asked Ani dance group directors Suzy Barseghian-Tarpinian and Yeghia Hasholian for help, and they sent us Artur, one of their many talented dancers.”

Since November, Artur has been driving an hour down to Orange County from North Hollywood every Monday night to teach dance. In between the two-hour roundtrip commute are four hours spent giving the kids a great workout and educating them about Armenian dances.

“We separated the dancers by age and gender,” says Shoushig. “Each group gets an hour with Artur, who has so much patience and love. He’s truly an inspiration to his students and our community. We expect great things from him in the future.”

Artur may just be 20-years-old, but he’s danced since he learned to walk, performing with not only the Ani Dance Company but in dozens of mainstream American productions like “The Nutcracker,” “Snow White” and “Peter Pan” across the US and abroad over the past 15 years.

Among Artur’s students are the likes of 13-year-old Sofia Sakzlyan and 8-year-old twins Alina and Armen Andekian, whose parents drive them to Santa Ana from all over the widespread but tight-knit Orange County Armenian community.

“The best part of the experience is seeing the progress,” says Artur. “I do it because it’s a new challenge. I try to not only teach dance but to also teach our culture to our students through the one thing I’m able to communicate best with – dance.”

Artur doesn’t expect the students who gather at Ghazarian Hall every Monday to follow in his footsteps as a professional dancer, but he still pushes them to reach their maximum potential week-after-week.

“Seeing the development of mental and physical strength, seeing the smiles after class,” are what Artur says motivate him. “I love to see them push through struggle. ”

Yeraz’s School of Armenian Dance performance will take place on Sunday, June 2nd at 6:00 PM at Gugasian Hall, 5301 W. McFadden Avenue, Santa Ana. Tickets are $10 for students and $12 for adults. For more information, call (714) 403-0875 or


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