The Armenian Teacher of Dances Living in Japan: “The Armenian Ballet Education needs Alteration”

The Armenian Teacher of Dances Living in Japan: “The Armenian Ballet Education needs Alteration”


AZG Daily- CULTURE #23, 15-06-2018


In Fukuoka town of ballet-loving Japan, there functions an Armenian ballet school and a dancing ensemble. “Gharibyan Ballet Academy” and “Gharibyan Krunk (Crane)” ensemble were founded by the young dancer and teacher of dances Azat Gharibyan. He also manages the organization “Cherry aplomb”, which allows getting ballet education abroad.…

The grandson of the merited representatives of the Armenian art of dancing Azat Gharibyan and Tereza Grigoryan – Azat Gharibyan Junior (born in 1981 in Yerevan), has received a professional education in Yerevan and Saint Petersburg. In 1997 in Yerevan, he was awarded a silver medal of “Amadeus” dance competition in the nomination of “Folk Dance”, in 2004 in Castiglione (Italy) he was awarded a golden medal in the international ballet competition and the award, which was envisaged for the best technique.

In 1999-2001, he served in “Sardarapat” ensemble of the Officer’s House of the Ministry of Defense of RA and in 1999-2002 he danced in the Opera and Ballet Theater named after Spendiaryan. Since 2002, there have started his foreign activities, also in Czech Republic and in Slovenia, then six years in the German theater of Flensburg region. Here he has appeared with main roles in the classic and modern repertoire.

Saying farewell to the stage and settling in Japan in 2011 Azat Gharibyan deals with dance teaching. During the 10th “Bale-Kone” competition, he was declared the best dance teacher of Fukuoka. For three times he was declared the best ballet teacher at “Namue” classic ballet competition.…

- Azat, you have the name of the merited representative of the Armenian art of dancing Azat Gharibyan…..

- I was seven years old when he died. My grandmother Tereza Grigoryan once told me: “You don’t deserve that name”. (by the way, everyone called me Macho). But when I returned from Petersburg with the diploma of Vaganova Academy, my grandmother told me: “Now you deserve to be called Azat Gharibyan”. I took my first steps of choosing a profession with my grandfather. They made a cross on my forehead in order to become a dancer. I was 3.5-4 years old, when I played the role of the Cock in the big performance “Wedding” staged by my grandfather and I got on the professional stage with the group “Krunk (Crane).

- Our ballet-dancing boys have generally left for either Europe or America and now you are in the country of the Rising Sun ….

- The reason is that during the years of living in Germany I got acquainted with my future wife – ballet dancer Naho Zoi, whose surname is Gharibyan now. Getting married we decided to settle down in Japan and open a ballet school here. We chose the town Fukuoka, where we opened “Gharibyan Ballet Academy”. Now we have two children Max, who is six years old and Melanya, who is three years old.

- And in Japan, where few Armenians live, you founded an Armenian dancing ensemble and called it after the “Krunk (Crane)” ensemble founded by your grandfather in 1986.…

- We present Armenian folk and new classical performances. We also present from the repertoire of “Krunk” – for example “Memory”, parts from “The Spindles” dancing performance. On March 11, 2013, our group had a charity performance in Fukuoka in memory of the victims of the tsunami in Japan on March 11, 20111. Twelve dancers have performed the dances staged by my grandfather under the sounds of the Armenian music. The money received from the concert was given to the foundation of children who had become orphans in the result of the disaster.

- Do our folk dances speak with the hearts of the Japanese?

- They were totally unknown to them, but they loved them very much and demand to perform them again.

- How often do you have performances? How many students and how many dancers do you have?

- Once in two years there is the performance of the school and between them, there is the performance of the group. Our dancing group is combined and the number of participants depends on the performance. Competition is very high in Japan. Only in our town there are more than 100 ballet schools but they already know us. We are very active; we participate in different competitions and have certain achievements. For seven times we have got the second place in the Japanese dance competitions. We have 60 students. There are no age restrictions. I have also a separate “Miss class”, where there are 11 people, who are women over 40.

- But do you prepare professional cadres?

- Today, one of our students continues his education in Germany, the other – in Czech Republic. A 12 years old student has entered Hamburg ballet school; the other has entered Novosibirsk school. We try not to keep them by ourselves, in order them to be able to perform on the world stage.

- This time you have come together with a beautiful Japanese girl…..

- Utako Hanada is from Fukuoka. She participated in the Kyushyu international competition, where I coordinate the education and work abroad. She had the opportunity to come to Armenia and to appear with our ballet group in the cord ballet of the performances of “Sapartak” and “Gayane”. This is a symbolic participation. It would be wonderful for our ballet education if we organized especially master classes with the participation of international guest lecturers and students studying ballet in the Far East (as there are many there and they need an international experience and the students studying in Europe already study in good terms).

- Do you follow our ballet and ballet education? What problems do you see?

- First of all I think that the bridge between the school and the theater is very important. Starting from just the first year, they should go to work with our artists and to make performances. There is no such a thing now; that way is closed. We have a lack of good teachers, strong pedagogical staff and cadres. We have specialists of both folk dances and characteristic dances, who don’t teach at the college now, meanwhile we need them very much. The list of the lessons taught should be expanded: variations, Pilates, yoga, anatomy. I don’t even speak about modern dances (we haven’t studied modern ballet neither in Yerevan nor in Saint Petersburg). Unfortunately, our curriculum is very out-dated. Today we cannot make an international ballet dancer according to the system of the 70ies. Now the 12-13 years old international ballet dancers know much more than our 16-17 years old students do. That is why at the age of 20 our students enter the theater unprepared. Ballet has become something secondary among us. One dancing generation should be better than the other one meanwhile today there is taught 90 percent folk dance and only 10 percent ballet. There are many specialists of dance, however it seems that ballet is disappearing. There is no change of generation. We should use our resources abroad and to bring students as well. In short, the Armenian ballet education needs alteration…

the material is taken from

 Thanks to Anna Vardanyan for the provision of the material!

translated from Armenian into English by M.Vardanyan