It could be said that Armenians are known for being creative and talented in the arts. From weavers and artisans to musicians and composers, there are several Armenian names that come to mind. Dance has been an essential and culturally binding art form for Armenians for centuries, and Anna Pipoyan, a belly dancer based in New York, has given that tradition an update.
Originally from Yerevan, Pipoyan began dancing at a young age. Her parents were the initial influence on her, enrolling her in ballet classes at the age of six because she was an extremely active youngster. “My father was an artist and singer,” she told the Weekly. “I guess I’ve inherited it from my family.”
Pipoyan continued her study of classical ballet at the Russian School of Ballet in Yerevan until she was 17. Among her favorite styles was Armenian folk dance, which would play an important role in her future success.
After studying at the school for 11 years, Pipoyan made the transition to New York City. “My number one priority was to just dance,” she said, which she did in several Broadway shows. She admits that it was a slightly difficult transition from the methods she had studied for so long in Armenia. “I didn’t want to continue ballet because I wanted a different experience. I discovered belly dancing by accident,” she said. After taking a class with a friend, she was hooked. “It’s energetic, feminine, classical—everything that I wanted to experience at that time.” Her passion for this newfound style took over, and she slowly began devoting herself to the alternative style of dance.
As she began getting hired for her talents more often, Pipoyan made belly dancing her full-time profession. “When you love what you do it becomes infectious,” she said. “It becomes something meant to be when you have true love and passion for it.” This passion led Pipoyan to dance at several exciting venues, including her favorite, America’s Got Talent, a televised talent show hosted by celebrity judges. Pipoyan was contacted by the program and invited to participate. She traveled to Las Vegas and performed on stage in front of thousands of audience members.
“Sharon [Osbourne] said I was the best belly dancer she had ever seen in her life,” Pipoyan said. “I will never forget that experience.” Pipoyan has also had the pleasure of working with celebrities like Beyonce and Don Omar. “It’s exciting to work with that type of clientele, but my range is really big. From family functions to music videos.”
Aside from her whirlwind experiences as a belly dancer, Pipoyan also enjoys other types of dance and has started on some new personal ventures. “I dance flamenco and Russian gypsy dancing. Authentic dances like this interest me.” Pipoyan is currently working on an instructional DVD, which will be released at the end of August. She also teaches children’s dance classes and hopes to one day own her own international dance school.
“I’m very fortunate for what my talent has become,” she said.
We can certainly use a few good ethnic dancers at our Armenian picnics.
Hope to see you some creative moves at Holy Martyr;s big festival in September…
What does belly dancing have to do with Armenians ?
It is a dance form completely alien to our culture.
While belly dancing isn’t traditionally Armenian, the article focuses on an successful Armenian woman who has roots dancing Armenian cultural dances. Also, since Armenians have been living throughout the Middle East (where belly dancing is popular) for a long period of time, it’s not totally alien to our people.
I do not quite agree with you. I also think that belly dancing is very foreign to us. Just look at Armenian dances and belly dance-they are apart day and night. For the same reason I do not like all those Armenian songs that if you replace the Armenian lyrics with Turkish or Arabic they will become Turkish or Arabic songs. I just do not have appreciation for that kind of art.
Lori is not arguing that belly dancing is an Armenian tradition, but she is highlighting the applications of Armenian tradition on other artforms. As she says, Anna Pipoyan has “given that tradition an update” in starting to belly dance as an “alternative style of dance” to the traditional Armenian dance in which she was trained. We should be proud to see the hand that Armenians have in a diverse set of fields, not critical of a successful, modern Armenian woman for not being Armenian enough.
and Yes! She is great…
Avery and Sella,
Everything human and universal can have something to do with Armenian culture and as Arpi says belly dancing has its roots in the Middle East which is also our home. Besides, she is not replacing Armenian dance or music with Arabic dance and music. She dances a non-Armenian type of dance as an Armenian, just as we have Armenian singers who sing in other languages and styles. I find nothing wrong for a member of a people to professionalize herself/himself in the art of another people.
”She dances a non-Armenian type of dance as an Armenian, just as we have Armenian singers who sing in other languages and styles.”
Nothing is wrong with singing in different languages. What is wrong to take an Arabic or Turkish music make it a little bit Armenian, add Armenian lyrics and call it Armenian song, something, that is so popular in Armenia.
Whether belly dance is Greek or Arabic it does not change the fact that it is not Armenian. I consider it foreign to our culture.
For general information:
Belly-dance first appearing at the women in positions in Greek tomb paintings (5,000 B.C.) and in ancient Greek sculpture. The Greeks call home- style belly dancing Tsifteteli. Belly dance was popularized in the West during the Romantic movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, when Orientalist artists depicted romanticized images of harem life in the Ottoman Empire. Around this time, dancers from Middle Eastern countries began to perform at various World’s Fairs, often drawing crowds in numbers that rivaled those for the science and technology exhibits. It was during this period that the term “oriental” or “eastern” dancing is first used. Several dancers, including the French author Colette, engaged in “oriental” dancing, sometimes passing off their own interpretations as authentic. (ref: Wikipedia 2012)
Armenian girls born in Arab countries most they know belly dancing…and they perform with their friends at home…it is a very good type of exercise of every cell in the body …There are two ways you can look at…
“Art or artless…Depends on your eyes”
Dear Anna, I am so proud of you! Good luck!
Belly dancing originated from Greece and never Arabic…
Like coffee originally from Yemen and never Turkish or American
and many other things…