Sirusho: I’ve been travelling since childhood; I visit different countries of the world. It has always facinated me to study the Armenians living in oher countries: who they are, how they manage to stay so Armenian being so far from homeland?! How they settle in а foreign land and get accomplished. What are the efforts they make to teach their kids Armenian? -The growing generation is very promising. Sirusho: How so carefully and lovingly they preserve culture. -Our dance is not just a dance. Our dance is an Armenian one. It’s one of a kind. And our dance indeed belongs to us. Sirusho: How is love for motherland passed down by generations and how much of it is being kept? -If I’m Armenian than my grandpa is Armenian and this is the way our family is strong and very Armenian committed. -It’s faith that gives us hope, it’s faith that provides with answers. Sirusho: We are much more and much stronger than it may seem. We must dare to open up to the world. Opening is the way to prosperity. Sirusho: Who are we? And how strong our roots are?! Sirusho: I want every Armenian to feel that he is not alone because we are all together and we must go together, and I want them to remember what a history we have been through and how strong we have been to be able to reach these days. I want them to understand what kind of wise and powerful ancestors we had, whose genes were passed on to us, I mean the genes of all of our heroes that were passed on to us, and today we have to carry on with dignity and feel strong, just because it’s…. even if at some point you might feel weak, no, you have that inner strength, you just have to find it… Sirusho: New Jersey is one of the most Armenian populated cities in America. It’s only a half hour drive from here to New York. Armenians who wanted to stay away from the noise of New York have long settled in New Jersey. Unlike the former, this city is very quiet and noiseless. The interview Taline conducts with me is for the “Mirror- Spectator” Weekly, which is the first English-language Armenian weekly in the United States and has existed since 1932. In fact, just twelve years after the Genocide, Armenians have set up a weekly newsletter about the Armenian community in America, which still operates and spreads news about Armenia. Sirusho: It’s interesting, there was a time, I don’t remember if it was in Greece, or in Cyprus, I just walked in a shop and the girl, the sales assistant who was Greek said: “I love your songs very much, especially Sheram’s “Shorora” “. -Oh Sirusho: I was …. Kind of…. Yeah… you know… it was something very importatnt, which… Sirusho: Haven’t you felt any different from your peers, your friends, because none of them have had that problem of self-determination as a nation, and you…. -Sirusho: I and my strange hat have come to the local Armenian school. -In New Jersey I was accompanied with my childhood friend Rita and Andre who doesn’t need a presentation. -Welcome
Sirusho: Hello -Welcome to Hovnanyan School. Sirusho: You know; I also have two kids just like you at home. -How old?
Sirusho: I have two sons. 2 and 4 -We have about 150 students, all of them Armenians, but sometimes we have non-Armenians who have decided to learn Armenian. Sirusho: So, how old is the school?
-41 years old. Sirusho: 41 years old.
-Yes. -This building is one of the old buildings in Patterson: they used to do some metal work here, this past 7 years they have turned it into Art Factory, studios and there’s even a radio studio here, law offices and many more, but for most of the time it’s more about exhibitions, there is an open door day for artists, and I rent a studio here…. there are music studios where they make records, even the radio that I mentioned, , they air live radio from here, it’s a very interesting building․ -This is my studio, please, come in. Sirusho: What is the inspiration of this smoke? -On May 31 there was an exhibition held at the UN office in New York dedicated to the World No Tobacco Day and it was one of those paintings. Sirusho: So, are you against smoking?
-I definitely am. Sirusho: And you don’t smoke?
-I’m against smoking. Sirusho: You don’t smoke but use it in your works, that’s quite interesting. -Sometimes one has to say something more powerful in order to be heard better. There was this woman who came to see the exhibition, she looked, got exited, cried, and then left. A few days later she came back and said։ “From that day on I’ve quit smoking”. My uncle used to paint, he was not an artist, but he was painting, and seeing some of his paintings, I was probably inspired, and then when I went to Kojoyan school, it probably got more serious, everything matured, and then I entered the Terlemezyan. To me Kojoyan was a very interesting school. I used to say painting and so on, and then I wanted something more serious, of course. When after graduating I went to the Terlemezyan School and then entered the Academy of Fine Arts in 2000, by 2003 I was painting, I was a straight A student there, which was probably one of the reasons I was able to come to America. In my opinion, no matter what, if you love your work and you’re commited to it, you will definitely succeed, as you do in our Armenia and you can go to different places, so in my opinion one should never give up. Discouragement is something that I would not recommend to anyone, because be it America, Armenia or Europe, despair will put an end to everything. There are people in America who are just as talented, but because they gave up without trying they have not achieved and will never achieve anything. Some people think that if somebody is in Europe, or America than that’s it, they got it just because they’re there, or as they say in the Armenian way, they speak from a cosier place, it’s not true…. because everyone can, everybody can whether in our Armenia… I have friends who do very well at getting exhibited, and I have friends who do not succeed, unfortunately, but to me the power of Americans, as I communicate with them a lot, is that they all believe that they are in the best place possible and at the best time possible. And when others in our country, unfortunately, complain about their whereabouts, saying “why am I here” and so on, it already… that negative keeps them from growing, you should always look forward, the place doesn’t matter, what matters is your inner world, who you are and not where you are. That’s why you must always look ahead, work hard, and try to succeed, reach your goals. This is thes ambassador of Madagascar, his wife, who is one of my students, and the President of UN who had come to greet that venture there. WHO, the World Health Organization was also there. They talked a lot about about many things and the reasons of smoking and its consequences. My goal as an artist is to get on bigger stages, bigger exhibitions, and with every piece of my work, everywhere it is stated that I come from Armenia; even when art has no language, it doesn’t matter, there is something Armenian inside of me that I’ve brought with me. As for growing, I keep saying this to my students, I say: “Don’t compare yourself with others, compare yourself with you, as you can’t possibly be the best, you can only be the best version of yourself, because, in any case, I don’t think there is an artist who is 100 percent loved and accepted by everyone, as tastes differ, people differ and cultures differ”. Sirusho: Andre is a good friend of mine, whoever doesn’t know, and also… -Hello Sirusho: and also he’s going to take part… to take part in the concert with several of his songs. The first rehearsal is the most unpredictable one. We usually have one or two days to dance together with the band, and in those one or two days we have to make the audience feel like we’ve been working together for months. Sirusho: These young people all work in different fields and have no desire to become a professional dancer. They consider it their duty to attend Armenian dances and regardless of the nature of their work they attend Armenian dance classes once or twice a week. This is one of the best ways to preserve culture. Our men and women are very strong. This is the man, this is the character that must be on stage, embodied in each and every one of you. More important than dance moves is to convey the right mood and spirit to the audience. That is why I prefer to work with local Armenian dance groups. To inspire and aspire is part of my job. While practicing, we get to know each other better, make friends. This is also an important circumstance that helps us to become one during the concert and give the audience our true emotions. The first rehearsal is over, we are going to rest. This is New York and it’s actually so close to New Jersey, but this time we’re not going to shoot in New York. ou’ll see it in another program, because I want it to be a separate show and a separate concert, o whenever I come back here to New York we will shoot New York then. Everything is based on songs; If there wasn’t the ARMAT CD with those songs, praising the Armenian spirit, there would be no ARMAT project, there would not be these concerts, there would be no other steps. You know, the song dictates what should happen next. And what I will write tomorrow is absolutely unpredicted for me. Will the next song be about that same topic again or about love? … I don’t know, and that is the most interesting part of it.