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Texts / Articles / Mr. Manvel Alevoryan / Ethnographic dance group of elderly dancers Lernapat
Mr. Manvel Alevoryan
Ethnographic dance group of elderly dancers Lernapat
The Armenian dance heritage has always been considered one of the ancient and most varied in its respective area. Komitas states ,that one of the most striking phenomena of the human life is dance art as well.It expresses the most characteristic features of any nation – especially the nation's moral and civilization degree in particular.It's so ,because though a human being dances volunteerily , all the movements of his own body express his inside as a whole.

From the 5th to the 3rd millennia BC., in the higher lands of Armenia, that is lands of Ararat, there are rock paintings of different scenes of country dancing. All these dances were probably accompanied by certain kinds of songs or musical instruments. Later Moses of Khoren himself had heard of how the old descendants of Aram (that is Armenians) make mention of these epic tales in the ballads for the lyre and their songs and dances.

Traditional dancing is still popular among expatriate Armenians and has also been very successfully "exported" to international folk dance groups and circle dance groups all over the world. All dancers wear the traditional costume to embody the history of their culture and tell their ancestors stories. The design elements of the costumes are influenced by many factors, such as religion, traditions, family methods and exquisite beading of the costumes ties the dance and the tradition together. The impressive movements of the Armenian dance are really adored by all audience around the world. In the course of time all the forms, nature and structure of national and ethnographical dances conveyed from generation to generation as a conspicuous way of ethnic mentality and psychological expression really needs professional revelation of the field as well as its coordination and thorough investigation.Everyone should be concerned about ethnic dance preservation, its development and dissemination. That is really of great importance for each nation's self-determination in the process of globalization. Ethnographic and national dances had played a great role since ancient times and they always been in harmony with environmental ceremonies and ritual beliefs. Nowadays, we descendants of the cultural heritage of our ancestors, appear in the mighty flood of information, therefore it's too hard to distinguish or differentiate anything in the field. At the same time due to the latest scientific achievements of today, people around the world have a great chance to contact freely with one another . It's mainly due to the free access to the Internet. Very often getting acquainted with different people , cultures and dance art in particular, people become able to orient themselves among them, but still they can't have any clear idea of the performance and style peculiarities of this or that specific piece of art.Consequently, as professionals, eager to evaluate ethnographic dance art, we really appear in desperate conditions, even at a loss.

It should be mentioned that any national and ethnographic dance art has always been preserved in this very cradle, so in order to reveal and investigate them we sometimes have to make great efforts to reach remote places, mainly rural areas to see, feel and study professionally the dance performance details, as well as the art style peculiarities. In search of that I reached a very cosy nook in the Lori Region, called Lernapat, where there existed a very nice dance group of elderly performers named "Lernapar" for almost 80 years. The activities of the group is mainly characteristic of the fact that all the members have cautiously preserved specific dance elements and ritual ceremonies quite typical of the very area or region. The young generation of the village being well aware of those dances later become worthy successor-performers of their senior countrymen- dancers, due to whom all those dancers have really preserved dance stable structure and way of performance. Now, I'd like you to have some information about the amateur dance group "Lernapar". It was established in the Lori Region village Lernapat in the 1930-s, which later became famous. The group once consisted of 3 musicians -zurna, damkash (assistant of zurna player ), dram and 7 dancers (all were men). The group acted till 1941.

In 1955, under the supervision of the village club head the group assembled again, at that time it contained 3 musicians and 12 dancers (6 men and 6 women).

In the 1960-70 –s the group involved different dancers. There were 8 male and female dancers. In 1980 the group of elderly dancers was named "Lernapar" (dance of mountain). The activity of the group was stopped for the second time because of the disastrous earthquake of Spitak in 1988. The village club building was also ruined.

The dancers of "Lernapar" have re-established their activity since 2000 involving new dancers in the group. At present there are 2 male and 5 female dancers in the group.

Many efforts are being made to involve some middle-aged people in the group who are supposed to learn and preserve all the dances of the past in the main repertoire.
The Group Repertoire

The group repertoire includes dances typical of the Lori Region way of life, as well as different ethnographic dances called "Hoy Nar", Kochari" (round dance) with the scene of Kokh (explanation...), "Ververi", "Lori Wedding" dance, "Baselo", "Bululi", "Tello"/song-dance/, "Zulo-Zulo"/song-dance/ , "Hoy Nazan"/song-dance/.

Komitas states that during peasant's dance performance there weren't any musical /folk/ instruments accompanying those dances / instruments were mainly used in major cities and towns/. The Armenian people used to dance especially in accompaniment of songs./ We can see this in Lernapar dance group/.In rural territories the elderly people used to dance in wedding ceremonies only/especially in the beginning/.

All the dances , song-dances included in the repertoire are really in harmony with their environment and life style. All those dances have been sacredly preserved and transferred to the next generation, so it stands to reason that in order to understand their essence deeply, the dancers must have had venerable age and experience.

The 80-year existence of the group "Lernapar" is of exceptional value for the preservation of the national and ethnographic dance propaganda besides the young generation and dance art professionals may have a great chance to get acquainted with other performers as well as the origin of all those dances. Together with all this, such groups are to present ethnographic dance samples and elements which enable the people to disseminate the whole national culture. This is just a sample.There are a great member of groups of the same kind in different parts of Armenia.I think for sure that the best way to preserve a national culture is propaganda and encouragement of such elderly dancers groups. . I'm pretty sure that activities of such groups should be in the focus of professionals' attention, as far as they are supposed to be the best preservers of national and ethnic songs and dance.
/Ancient Armenina wrestling/

The national Armenian wrestling style "Kokh" is really considered to be one of the oldest forms of wrestling .A great amount of illustrations of "Kokh" scenes can still be observed on the walls of the Medieval Armenian Cathedral of Akhtamar . This wrestling style has always been practiced mainly in the rural areas of Armenia . Kokh is a type of Armenian national single combat , that is martial art . It has always been an indivisible part of the national festive performances , pilgrimages , wedding ceremonies , etc. The Kokh competitors / called "pahlevans"/ begin the fight dancing national dances accompanied by traditional folk music , after wich they begin the match. In the Lori Region Kokh fighters wear special traditional robes and have to grab the opponents robe to throw or push them out .
Concert Activities

The "Lernapar" dance group had some guest concerts not only in different parts of Armenia, but also in the Russian Federation. In 1967 the group participated in the All-Union Festival of non-professional art held in the Moscow Congress Hall and was awarded the 1st prize. The group presented "The Lori Wedding" dance.

In 1969 "The Lernapar" participated in the republican arrangements dedicated to the 100th anniversary of great Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan (held in Kirovakan, now Vanadzor).

In 1975 the group was shot in the film "Seasons of the Year", performed by world-known film director Artavazd Peleshyan.
In 2001 "The Lernapar" participated in the National Dance Festival organized by the National Dance Art Association and Dance Professionals' Union of Armenia and was awarded a diploma.

In 2003 the group took part in the official arrangements dedicated to the special day of Vanadzor City.

In 2005 "The Lernapar" participated in the Pan-Armenian Games Grand Opening Concert, which was held at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

In 2006 it participated in the concert dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the local self-governmental bodies held at the National Opera House. The "Lernapar" has always participated in various TV and Broadcasting programmes.

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Алеворян Манвел Мартинович
Alevoryan Manvel Martin
Республика Армения ,Ванадзорский Государственный
Колледж Искусств имени Микаела Тавризяна / преподаватель/
Republic of Armenia , Vanadzor state Art College after Mikhayel Tavrizyan /lecturer /
,,Этнографическая танцевальная группа старцев Лернапар''
"Ethnographic dance group of elderly dancers Lernapat"
Литература и ссылки/Literature and links
1.Србуи Лисициан ,,Старинные Пляски и Театральные Представления Армянского Народа''/Акдемия Наук Армянской ССР 1958 Ереван/
Srbuhi Lisicyan'' Ancient Dancings and Theatrical
Performances of the Armenian People" /Academy of Sciences of Armenian SSR 1958 Yerevan/
2.Мовсес Хоренаци ,,История Армении''
/Ереванский Госвударственный Университет 1981/
Moses of Khoren "History of Armenia" /The Yerevan State University 1981/
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