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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA
ՀԱՅՏԱՐԱՐՈՒԹՅՈՒՆՆԵՐ
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The eighth session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the 2003 Convention

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Staged dances

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Staged dances. They developed at the end of the 20th century in urban environments, by which time dances had acquired show attributes. Traditional dance steps, styles, postures with all their components, had gone astray and had created a pool from where it was now possible to retrieve and make use of any single element. Their ritual essence, philosophy and performing standards have been stripped off. The use of the dance melodies, moreover still, the dance song lyrics had been almost forgotten. Any dance teacher or any amateur could pick whatever tune they liked and furnish it with steps and postures they chose, concoct semi-professional compositions of movements and accommodate them for stage performance. They were performed in a semi-traditional, semi-ballet style, with lots of muscle straining, to a new music tune and with a new given name.

Modifications. At the end of the 20th century Armenian popular dances underwent some modifications, especially it was true for urban environments. Traditional dances, that had lost touch with the ritual rich lifestyle and had become independent compositions, maintained their structural characteristics for quite a long time. But once included in the programs of state and amateur dance groups as demonstration samples, they underwent modifications of various degree.

To become demonstration samples and to look good on stage, Armenian folk dances were modified to suit the requirements of the show and to cater to the audience. Such slightly modified dances for quite some time maintained their patterns and design, their dance tune, and the logical links between their arrangements and the lyrics. Most importantly, they preserved the performing style and natural movements of traditional dances. This type was coined ethnographic dances, by someone’s passing suggestion. Later this surgical method was used to put together a group of dances and accommodate them for the stage, which were named ethnographic dance chains. This kind of interventions actually opened doors to more substantial alterations, which in their turn created wide possibilities for making performances with the use of dance elements. These alterations were initially called modifications of ethnographic dances.

These modified popular dances were gradually returned to the people, and to make a psychological distinction between them and the traditional dances, they were now coined as ethnographic.

Fashioning of solo dances. The ritual solo folk dances faced the same fate. Initially they, too, maintained their integral pattern after having gone onto the stage. Their innate demonstrative appeal made solo dances more acceptable on the stage. A little later, when it became evident that solo dances had only left-right serpentine rotations and a pattern of big or small horizontal circles, and that their modification potential was limited, these dances were taken apart, and from former ritual solo dance components new compositions were created under the name of modifications.

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