he is so optimistic that, she thinks if her car ever breaks down, it’ll always happen by the beach. Her retirement plans are only after 85 years old. Her family consists of 50 outstanding members, and it’s growing faster than China’s population. Her dance group is one of the best connection providers in Las Vegas – Armenia transit among At&t, Skype, or Viber; it never interrupts, loses the voice or the picture. Our guest of today is the founder and instructor of the Armenian Dance School of Las Vegas, Izabel Martirosyan.
zabel, what wind did bring you to Las Vegas?
My family and I visited this beautiful city a few times, then decided to move.
hen did you discover your passion towards Armenian folk dance?
Ever since I was a little girl. I remember watching TV it would show Ruben Matevosyan singing and the dancers in the background. I would get up and start dancing in our living room. The first “live” dance performance I saw was when our neighbor’s daughter and her dance group performed in Abovyan, back in Armenia. Once I saw it, I just fell in love with the dance. I told my parents that I want to be in those same dresses and dance just like them.
ow did your path start to having a whole school of Armenian folk dance?
I had the idea of opening a dance school in 2004. I used to teach Armenian language at the Armenian Saturday School at that time for about a year. In 2011, I officially started teaching dance. Dance has always been my passion. I’ve been teaching for about 5 years. In 2013 I started my own dance school “Armenian Dance School of Las Vegas” and it has been growing extremely well.
as your path choice always surrounded with pros, or there were cons as well?
More pros than cons because when you give your 100% and work with passion, cons disappear. My parents and siblings have always supported my decision to teach dance, from day one. Having my own dance school has given me the most rewarding opportunities.
hat do you value most in Armenian dance culture?
The dance itself. It breathes through us it and reminds us where we came from. It keeps me alive in a way. I think it’s the burning fire that shouldn’t die in the Armenian community. I hope that one day in the future, my dancers will remember how much effort they put into their performances and on this dance floor. Hopefully, they would want to continue what I’ve started, maybe when I’m 85, and my legs can’t do sauté anymore (laughing).
ow did the Armenian community respond to the opening of the Armenian Dance School of Las Vegas?
The response was very welcoming. Parents were excited to see their kids dance and become part of our community. It’s a wonderful feeling to see people watching my dancers perform. Even non Armenians get mesmerized by our dances. I’ve seen some people get teary eyed and emotional because it reminds them of back home. When I read messages through social media or some people approach me at events, they all reassure me that I’ve been doing something right for the kids and the growing Armenian community.
hen you look back at your path and the school you’ve formed, what are some of the important changes you’ve noticed?
Having my own studio became a necessity because my group started growing fast during the last couple of years. I can proudly say that I own the first Armenian dance studio in Las Vegas. Some other important factors are that my school is very involved in the Armenian community events, to name a few past and recent events: opening of Armount TV station, opening of St. Geragos church, donations made to SARF (Syrian Armenian Fund Relief), donations to the soldiers in Armenia who were in hospitals, opening of the Armenian Genocide Memorial, St Garabed church’s three year anniversary, Rumi Awards, where my group won “Best Group Performance” award, and other cultural events and award shows. My dancers have grown so much, some have been with me since day one. We’ve become a big family.
ho’s your inspiration for Armenian folk dance?
Our beautiful traditional folk dances alone are my inspiration along with all the amazing and talented instructors I had over the years. From time to time I like to go back and watch our old traditional dances that haven’t been changed. I like to nurture those moves and teach my dancers. That way, Armenian dance always stays alive.
f you could describe your dance classes in 3 words, what would they be?
Fun, exciting, energetic.
s it easy to work with kids of all ages?
It’s fun and easy for the most part and with all ages. However, there are easy and challenging parts with my youngest dancers. Easy, because I know what they like-fun games and wanting to share their princess dress up party stories they recently had. Challenging because I have to keep them engaged and interacted during class as a group; very typical for 3-6 year old because of the short attention spans and playful behaviors.
o you have any kids from different nationalities?
I do. You don’t have to be native to learn Armenian dance. Everyone who’s passionate about dance can join our big family.
hat’s the most important factor in mastering the Armenian Dance?
Staying true to the traditional dances.
s a finale, what would you suggest to people who are interested in Armenian Dance but haven’t joined yet?
Try it, you won’t regret it. Especially if you do some research about Armenian folk dance, you’ll notice how unique and beautiful our dances are. Watch our videos on YouTube or join our class, first class is always free.
“Out of the Box”
Why did your parents name you Izabel?
My parents didn’t name me Izabel, my aunt Rozik did. She was the one who named all of the kids in Martirosyan family, both for her sisters and brothers. She wanted something European, so she picked Izabel, and I love my name. I thank her every day for that (laughing).
The fairy auntie from Cinderella stops by your place to have coffee and forgets her fairy stick at your place. How would you use that fairy stick?
How wouldn’t I use that fairy stick! That would be amazing. It’ll help with my traveling decisions. I would use it for good purpose, of course, and maybe “just maybe” I can share with others. I’m kidding, I will totally use it for good purpose and helping people (laughing).
You’re given a very big space for building your own house the way you want. Describe your living room.
It’ll have a modern look and not a lot of furniture. Maybe one or two pictures on the wall, nature related. I’ll have colorful fresh flowers, yasaman from Armenia. I’ll probably add a nice waterfall too, to bring the nature inside. I think my living room will be my relaxing room (smiling). Oh, oh, and a dance floor, of course!
You’re alone on a long awaited trip on a car, and on the way to your destination the car breaks down. The tow company arrives, and the mechanic tells you that it’ll take couple of days to fix the car? How will you approach the situation? Describe your alternatives.
Ugh! I don’t like that situation but hopefully it will be in a nice town where I can stay the next two days and go sight seeing. Can this “town” be by the beach? Am I alone on this trip or with someone?(giggling) It will actually be a good opportunity for me to explore, till the mechanic returns my car.I should start planning my vacation Satine, sounds like I need one. An alternative will be using the fairy’s stick to get my car fixed.
You’re about to create a whole new flower with your favorite colors. You can personalize it and even give a soul to it, with all human feelings. Describe and draw that flower.
My flower is white. White symbolizes purity. The flower is loving, elegant, gentle, and graceful. My flower also has 5 petals, each representing my siblings.