On June 15, 2013, the Holy Trinity Armenian Church’s Sassoun Dance Ensemble held its 9th Annual Performances at the Hamazkayin Theatre in Toronto. The concerts received the praise of Armenians and the broader community, with record attendance during both performances.
The sold-out theatre enjoyed a program featuring an exciting new repertoire of dances and vibrant costumes. In keeping with their reputation for innovation, Sassoun collaborated closely with the Academy of Serbian Folk Dancing under the joint direction of Artistic Directors Joe Avakian and Miroslav Bata Marčetić. Members of both ensembles performed traditional Armenian and Serbian dances together, bringing the audience to their feet. The dancers were also accompanied by the vocal talents of Soprano Mrs. Sona Hovsepyan.
The Sassoun Dance Ensemble was founded in 2004 by Rev. Archpriest Fr. Zareh Zargarian, and one of the most talented families in Toronto. Under the leadership of Joe Avakian, the Artistic Director and Choreographer, Sossy Avakian, Assistant Director and Costume Co-ordinator, Sevag Avakian, Dance Instructor and Music Co-ordinator, and Sareen Avakian, Junior Instructor, Sassoun has grown from only a handful of participants to over 80 members. The Ensemble is split into three age groups: 8-10, 11-13, and 14+.
For almost a decade, the Sassoun Dance Ensemble has been promoting and developing Armenian artistic tradition in Toronto. Through the medium of dance, they have brought the Armenian culture to audiences throughout Ontario and Quebec, as well as Armenia and the United States. This commitment to Canadian multicultural values was commended by the Hon. Jim Karygiannis, M.P. Scarborough-Agincourt, in a message presented to Mr. Joe Avakian.
The Ensemble has also caught the attention of the government of the Republic of Armenia. This year, Armenia’s Minister of Diaspora Mrs. Hranush Hagopian honoured Artistic Director Mr. Joe Avakian with the prestigious Ministry of Diaspora “Komitas” Medal. The medal was presented by Mr. Khoren Mardoyan, Advisor to the RA Minister of Diaspora, in recognition of Mr. Avakian’s accomplishments in showcasing Armenian dance, music, and culture in the Diaspora.
Having performed their annual concerts, the Sassoun Dance Ensemble continues to bring its artistry to the community. This summer, the Ensemble was featured at the Bulgarian Folklore Festival, and has upcoming performances on Canada Day at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto, as well as the Ottawa Armenian Festival in August. In October, the Ensemble will be travelling to perform in Argentina and Uruguay, as the first Armenian dance ensemble to be invited there from Canada.
The Sassoun Dance Ensemble’s success would not be possible without the support of Rev. Archpriest Fr. Zareh Zargarian, and that of the community. Through the Ensemble’s renewed dedication and their audiences’ ongoing support, Sassoun hopes to continue to entertain the community and develop Armenian culture for many years to come.
For more information about the Sassoun Dance Ensemble and for performance dates, visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/groups/sassoun/.
by Daron Mardirossian