ShushiArmenian Dance Ensemble

About the Group

The Shushi Armenian Dance Ensemble, under the auspices of the Saint Vartan Cathedral in New York City, came into existence in 1992 as a small, young cultural group when a few teenagers wanted to familiarize the non-Armenian community with Armenian history, culture, and traditions. On the occasion of the 3rd anniversary of the liberation of the ancient capital city “Shushi” in Karabagh in 1995, the group adopted the name “Shushi Armenian Dance Ensemble.”

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Under the astute volunteer leadership of Seta Paskalian-Kantardjian, choreographer and artistic director of the group, who is well-respected for her meritorious career in dance and tremendous dedication to teaching Armenian dance in various venues, the group has flourished and grown to over 110 dancers, consisting of elementary, high school and college students, and young professionals. With the help of a group of dedicated volunteer committee members, Mrs. Paskalian-Kantardjian has led the ensemble to numerous successful performances both in the United States and abroad. In 2013, the ensemble's achievements earned it membership to the International Dance Council CID at UNESCO, the official world-wide organization for dance, which distinguishes Shushi as one of the leading dance groups on an international level.

These past twenty-four years have proven to be quite memorable for the ensemble performing with Ara Gevorgian and his orchestra from Armenia and popular vocalists Nune Yesayan, Hovig Krikorian, Shushan Petrosyan, Babin Boghosian, Shoghaken Folk Ensemble from Yerevan, Rima Karapetyan, Lillian, Salbi Mailian, Hermine Toumanian, Ruben and Rafael Telunts, Armen Hovannesyan, Leyla Saribekyan, Andre, poet Noune Avetisyan, and musical director Andranik Mouradian. Shushi has performed in Armenia four times, Karabagh two times, Moscow Russia, Amman Jordan, Damascus Syria, Aleppo Syria, Beirut Lebanon, Buenos Aires Argentina, Montevideo Uruguay, Montreal, Toronto, Boston, California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington DC, Chicago and Florida and Disney World. The group also performed on the Armenian Heritage Cruise in January 2009.

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In July 2010, an accomplishment of unparalleled magnitude was achieved when the ensemble journeyed throughout the Middle East for a three week tour with four sold out performances in three countries. Shushi began its journey in Amman, Jordan with a performance hosted by the Jordanian Cultural Ministry and the Armenian Watany Sporting Club at the Al-Hussein Cultural Center. A second performance was held at the exquisite Damascus Opera House in Damascus, Syria hosted by the Ministry of Culture, The General Association of Dar Al Assad for Culture & Arts, in cooperation with AGBU and the Armenian Youth Association (AYA) Damascus chapter. Hosted by the AGBU AYA Aleppo chapter and Friends of the Citadel of Aleppo, the third performance was held at the historic Citadel (Pert) with over 4000 audience members, including 200 AGBU boy and girl scouts who participated in the finale. The last leg of the journey brought the energized group to Beirut, Lebanon for a fourth and final performance as part of the AGBU Lebanon Centennial celebration and the Armenian Youth Association Lebanon chapter.

On October 30th, 2011, the ensemble presented an exhilarating program dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the independence of Armenia & Karabagh, and the 20th anniversary of the Shushi Dance Ensemble with 150 performers. This patriotic and poignant program captured the significance of this occasion, and was more intoxicating, more electrifying and more magical than ever before.

In July 2012, Shushi Dance Ensemble journeyed to South America. First they performed in Montevideo, Uruguay dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the AGBU Nubarian School. Next, they performed in an open-air concert festival entitled "Buenos-Aires celebrates Armenia”, on one of the most prestigious avenues in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in front La Casa Rosada (The Pink House), the official executive mansion & office of the President of Argentina. The festival was sponsored by the Ministry of Diaspora and Armenian Embassy to Argentina.

In 2013, Shushi was admitted as a member of the International Dance Council CID, the official umbrella organization, recognized by UNESCO, for all forms of dance in all countries of the world.

One of the most memorable and proud days in the history of Shushi was on Saturday, May 17th, 2014 as the group participated in the New York Dance Parade among 10,000 other dancers. Under the clear blue skies of NYC, ninety members and parents of Shushi marched down Broadway Avenue with a float embellished with Armenian flags and a large painting of Mt. Ararat and Khor Virab as the backdrop, along with posters of the fruits of Armenia, the pomegranate and apricot. Tens of thousands of spectators watched as Shushi dancers paraded, danced and sang to the patriotic music of Aram Khatchadourian, Ara Gevorgyan and Khatchadour Avetissian. 

In July of 2015, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, an incomparable accomplishment was achieved when Shushi performed in Russia, Armenia and Karabagh for a two week tour. The group's first performance was In Moscow at the ZIL Cultural Center sponsored by the Cultural Ministry of Diaspora of Armenia and the Armenian Union of Russia. At the conclusion of the performance, Mr. Ara Aprahamian, president of the Armenian Union of Russia, congratulated and commended the ensemble on the spectacular program. Shushi's next performance, for the 4th time in its history, was in Yerevan at the Alexander Spendiarian National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet sponsored by Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. This was the second time Shushi has performed at this impressive venue! In attendance was the exceptional composer, Ara Gevorgyan, where he was presented a special gift from the ensemble of an engraved frame in appreciation of his brilliant music. The last leg of the journey brought the energized group on a bus trip to Karabagh where the ensemble performed on July 9th in a beautiful outdoor setting sponsored by Hayastan All-Armenian Fund & Ministry of Culture and Youth Affairs of Karabakh. During this tour, the biggest honor was when His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians awarded the St. Sahag-St. Mesrob Medal to Seta Paskalian-Kantardjian, in recognition of her contributions to the cultural and educational life of the Armenian community in metropolitan New York/New Jersey. Another big honor was when Dr. Heranush Hakopyan, RA Minister of Diaspora, invited senior members, vocalists and committee members to her office and presented Seta Paskalian-Kantardjian with the Komitas Medal.

In November of 2015, Shushi presented an exhilarating performance, REMEMBER 1915, in NJ, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. To culminate this commemoration, Shushi presented a program entitiled, REMEMBER 1915 & RISE!!! in Glendale, California in April 2016, sponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association, Glendale/Pasadena Chapter.

In May of 2017, Shushi Dance Ensemble hallmarked its 25th anniversary with a spectacular performance at Felician University called “Celebration” with over 100 dancers and famous vocalists including Andre, Yeva Yeganyan, Salbi Mailyan, Armen Hovhannisyan, Ruben Telunts, Zovinar Aghavian, Anoosh Barclay, Alvard Mayilyan, Hasmik Mekhanejian, Solange Merdinian, Anahit Zakaryan, and Andranik Mouradian as the brilliant musical director. Also participating in the program were 8 professional dancers from California, New York and Florida.

The 2017-2018 year is full of performances and trips spanning from the New York Area to France, Spain, and Italy!

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