Sosy Kadian Danced to Her Own Beat

CRESSKILL, N.J.—It was almost poetic really. Take a dance floor, introduce some Armenian music, and call Sosy Krikorian-Kadian to the forefront.

A dancing Sosy Krikorian-Kadian
A dancing Sosy Krikorian-Kadian

No, you wouldn’t have to call, probe, or invite.  It was automatic.  The dancing machine didn’t need a clue, much less an urge.

She was the complete package—those gyrations and footwork, the infectious smile, the intensity, and the spirit that flowed from the rafters.

It was a moment meant to be packaged and preserved in time.

That’s how I shall remember this magnificent Armenian.  That is how we shall all cherish her friendship.  She was the “class” in classic, the grand dame of her genre.

Her death Aug. 12 closes the book on an iconic Armenian who served her ambassadorship through dance and the arts.  She was 87, but never used her age as an excuse to refrain from a solo or dance class.

I caught up with her a few times, whether it was aboard a cruise ship or the Poconos during Armenian Week.  While most of us were there to kef the night away, Sosy came on a mission. Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, she’d summon the children to her side and teach them the rudiments.

Gradually, these same youngsters grew into adulthood and brought their own kids to Sosy. “Go see Digin Sosy,” they would say. “Learn to dance.”

I was there one bustling day when a child was glued to the wall.  His mother brought him to the class but couldn’t get him to join the activity.

Sosy made it a point to encourage the child and took him by the hand like a grandmother. She brought him to the forefront and taught him all the correct moves.  The boy became infatuated by this new exercise.

The image of a grown woman dancing with a child inside a circle of enthusiasts was a sight to behold.  Her charm and charisma induced yet another student of the arts. Had you seen the look on that mother’s face, you would have melted in your seat.

Crooner Onnik Dinkjian included her in a song titled “Karnan Dzaghig.”

For years, she staged productions in the Mid-Atlantic area, teaming up with sidekick Hourig Sahagian-Papazian to form an eclectic ensemble called “The Way We Were.”  The musical revue depicted first generation Armenians arriving here to set the tone for community life.


At a talk one day honoring the work of writer/author Lucine Kasbarian, Sosy Kadian was inside her element.  She did not dance but rather displayed her true Armenian colors with a powerful message to Hamazkayin listeners at Sts. Vartanantz Church.

“We often believe that miracles occurred only in olden times—that they don’t really happen in this day and age,” she said. “And yet, isn’t it a miracle that we are gathering here today, a group of Armenians, in a building where the Armenian flag is raised beside the American flag, sitting here at a lecture presentation in the Armenian language?”

“We are living in an age of miracles. We see them all around us. But because there is disconnect among us, because we are constantly rushing and seeking immediate gratification, we do not always notice these miracles,” she resumed.

Like all of us, Sosy was enamored by Kasbarian’s book, Armenia: A Rugged Land, an Enduring People, and got to applaud both the author and her work that day in 1998.

One cannot think about Sosy without fondly recalling her husband Hagop, who passed away in 1994. They were two acorns on a branch and formed a dance partnership throughout their married lives.

“Everyone who knew Sosy, even in a merely casual way, was saddened to hear the news,” said Mark Gavoor, a close family friend. “She was part of that great American generation but in a very American-Armenian way. She carried that noble spirit of her land, the yergir, and its people in her heart and soul. Sosy created a new Armenia in everything she did. Her Armenia was an inspiration to countless Armenians.”

Musician Ara Topouzian couldn’t escape the impact she had upon his career and life in general, despite the age difference. Sosy put him on stage to play tambourine in a presentation at Atlantic City and took an immediate shine to Armenian music.

The other musicians he stood with were the second-generation Vosbikians. Topouzian was merely 9 at the time and matured into a prominent musicologist and recording artist in Detroit.

Digin Sosy, preserved and passed along Armenian cultural traditions,” he said. “It was important that she exposed younger generations to our rich heritage.  She sang, danced, wrote, and read poetry. She played music.”

May her powerful spirit keep us all engaged.

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
Tom Vartabedian

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  1. I remember her from marches, leading the chants, stirring the crowd, a real force of nature, I thought. I admired her energy, her passion her patriotism and dedication. Of course, there were other occasions and events, but in the mind’s eye, I will always see her as this strong Armenian woman, leading and inspiring the crowd with her strong voice, a proud flag bearer, long before the tricolor became every Arneian’s flag. I feel fortunate to have encountered her.

  2. Beautiful article for a beautiful person and very well deserved!
    Her graceful mannerism on the dance floor was a joy to watch, for all ages.

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