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06 04 03 - Monument to Armenian Genocide Victims Inaugurated in French Town of Gap

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ April 2 Armenian Ambassador to France Edward Nalbandian in Gap took part in the opening ceremony of a khachkar erected in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide victims. In Nalbandian’s words, it’s essential to remember and condemn this crime against humanity. “A human being has no future, people have no history and the humanity will lose face without memory,” he said. During the unveiling ceremony Edward Nalbandian was decorated with the order of Gap’s Honorary Citizen. Parliamentarians, representatives of the Armenian Diaspora also attended the event, reported the RA MFA press office.

Rhythm Sister: Dutch devotee of Armenian dance spreads the word in steps
By Gayane Abrahamyan
ArmeniaNow reporter
A Dutch woman’s devotion to the art of Armenian dance has led her to teach it to people all over the world.
{ai143601.jpg|left}With gentle movements of her arms, Tineke van Geel dances the Shorora and it seems that Charents’ famous words “I love the graceful dance of the maids from Nairi” are written especially for her.

“I used to be a student at a professional dance academy and became interested in the folk dances of various peoples. I learnt that two American choreographers of Armenian descent had arrived in Holland and were going to hold classes, so I registered and discovered a new world,” says van Geel.

That introduction to Armenian dance was 28 years ago; her simple curiosity has grown since then into a deep love for the form. Her interest grew so intense that, despite the evident difficulties, she appealed to the Ministry of Culture of Soviet Armenia to be allowed to visit Armenia.

“After much red tape I was allowed to come to Armenia in 1985, but for only three weeks,” recalls van Geel.

To the question “what do you want to do here?” van Geel replied: “I want to learn Armenian dances, to see how the people live who have this kind of dance.”

Van Geel attended dance classes with the Kanaz, Akunk, Hayastan and Malatia ensembles and had personal master classes with choreographers Suren Gyanjumyan, Azat Gharibyan and others.

That first visit was followed by a second, and then a third… until the government permitted her to stay in Yerevan for five months.

“It was the worst year, 1988, and I saw the consequences of the earthquake, and later of the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was really terrible, and when I returned in 1992 many of the ensembles had already ceased to exist,” says van Geel.

{ai143602.jpg|right}This Dutch expert of Armenian dance has gone on to hold classes of Armenian Kochari, Shorora and other dances in the Netherlands, Italy, England, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Hungary, Canada, Finland, Japan and Taiwan. (see her website

“In Japan, for instance, there was a program of classes that included other peoples’ dances as well, but the greater part of the applicants, almost 800 people, applied especially for Armenian dance classes and showed great interest in them,” says van Geel.

Besides teaching, van Geel talks to her classes about Armenia and Armenians with great enthusiasm, showing picture books and albums about her subject.

“You can’t feel the dance without having learnt the history of the country. I always talk about the Genocide, the reason Armenians have a Diaspora today and what the differences between their dances are,” she says.

“I often play duduk recordings during the breaks and that just shocks them. Many say this instrument and the music reflect the history of the Armenian people.”

Besides Armenian dances, van Geel also loves Armenian dance music and she has made her own significant contribution to popularizing it. In the difficult years for Armenia from 1988 to 1996, van Geel would invite Armenian musicians to Holland for recordings of Armenian dance music.

“As a result we already have seven discs which, by the way, are sold illegally in Armenia,” says van Geel.

{ai143603.jpg|left}The devoted promoter of Armenian dance, music and history discovered this fact during her last visit to Armenia to meet her friends and see new dance groups. At Vernisage (the open-air bazaar and art show in the center of Yerevan) she asked a disc seller to show her any collections of folk song. It turned out that her discs were among the more widely available.

Expecting to induce a sense of shame in the vendor, she announced that she was Mrs Van Geel Records in person. She got a different and unexpected response, however.

The salesman shook her hand in wild enthusiasm and declared that the music on her CDs was just fantastic.

“He said keep up the good work and so I have no choice, I keep it up,” she says.


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