Armenian community in Egypt takes part in international flash mob event 'Ari Bari Kochari'

Nora Koloyan-Keuhnelian , Monday 27 May 2019

flash mob performed by Armenian Ambassador Karen Levoni Grigorian, his wife Anna Haji-Hagopian and m
flash mob performed by Armenian Ambassador Karen Levoni Grigorian, his wife Anna Haji-Hagopian and members of the Armenian community

Following several dance sessions at their cultural clubs, the Armenian community in Egypt took part in an event on 25 May titled ‘Ari Bari Kochari’, where 65 dancers participated in a flash mob at the Armenian embassy in Cairo’s Zamalek district.

“I am very happy that the community in Egypt responded to the embassy’s invitation to take part in such an initiative,” Anna Haji-Hagopian, the wife of the newly-appointed ambassador of Armenia to Egypt, told Ahram Online.

Haji-Hagopian expressed her appreciation that not only did different dance troupes from the community, namely Zankezour and Sardarabad, take part in the event, but also that people of different ages, representing several generations, showed interest.

“It is important for the young generation to realise that our nation is a strong one, united, educated and tolerant, despite the pain we suffered in the past,” Haji-Hagopian said.

Ambassador Karen Levoni Grigorian and his wife Anna joined the dancers.

Members of the Armenian community gathered at the Armenian Embassy in Zamalek
Members of the Armenian community gathered at the Armenian Embassy in Zamalek

Kochari, which translates to “knee-come” in Armenian, is a traditional Armenian folk dance, perhaps the country’s oldest and most popular, which has several versions. Each region in Armenia has its unique music and choreography of Kochari.

In 2017, the dance was placed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, joining the Armenian musical woodwind instrument duduk, the art of cross-stones, the epic poem ‘Daredevils of Sassoun’, and Lavash bread.

Initially, Kochari was a war/military dance. This spiritual and masculine dance simulates a battle, emphasising the strength and power of the dancers. Today, after introducing some modern steps into the dance, elders, children and youngsters can all do the dance hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder in a circle or a semi-circle.

“Dancing shoulder-to-shoulder conveys the idea of cultural cohesion and mutual respect. It means to live and to create, to fight a war to come out victorious or to lose, doesn’t matter, we simply have to enjoy life to be able to survive,” Haji-Hagopian told Ahram Online, adding that any pan-Armenian initiative unites the nation in many ways.

The ‘Let’s dance Kochari’ initiative commemorated the 150th birth anniversaries of two Armenian legends; founder of the Armenian national school of music, ethnomusicologist, priest Komitas and poet, writer and public activist Hovhanness Tumanian.

Haji-Hagopian wishes for every Egyptian to get acquainted with the Armenian culture, adding that “such events raise awareness about our art and heritage. This flash mob is a minor occasion to raise Egyptians’ interest to learn more about our culture.”  

This was the first Armenian flash mob of its kind in Egypt. The international initiative was first organised last year. Twenty-six countries, 80 cities and 112 folk dance troupes took part in this year’s flash mob. Uploading all dance videos in the diaspora was meant to take place on one day, mentioning the hashtags especially created for the initiative.

The first flash mobs were created in Manhattan, New York in 2003. It is said that the first attempt was not successful as the targeted department store knew about the plan. The successful one came during the same year at Macys store’s rugs department.

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