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Suzy Barseghian-Tarpinian
Artistic Director and Choreographer

Suzy Barseghian-Tarpinian was born in Iraq and completed her primary education at Our Lady of Presentation in Baghdad. In 1968, she moved to Beirut Lebanon with her family. While continuing her education at the Seventh Day Adventist High School, she immersed herself in the world of dance. She began to attend Sonya Poladian's Ballet Academy, where she learned classical ballet and Foyer de la Danse, which specializes in contemporary dance, Simultaneously, she participated in Hamazkayin Knar Dance Ensemble of Beirut, Lebanon where she had many performances as a soloist including Cyprus in 1970. Suzy was invited by well known director Gerard Avedissian to perform as a principal soloist in an Armenian musical, "Long Live the King".

In 1974, she immigrated to the United States and settled in Santa Monica, California with her family. She enrolled in Santa Monica Community College and studied finance. At that time, there were no other Armenian dance groups in California, and the dream of forming one had been shared by both Suzy and her father, Haroutune Barseghian. Shortly thereafter, inspired by her father's vision, Suzy founded an Armenian dance group named Sardarabad Dance Group under the Armenian Youth Association of California. Six months later, Yeghia Hasholian joined and together, they assumed the roles of artistic director and choreographer. In 1976, the group joined Hamazkayin and was renamed the Hamazkayin Ani Dance Group of Los Angeles. In 1982, Suzy married Sarkis Tarpinian and had two children, Shant and Raffi, born in 1985 and 1988 respectively. Today, Suzy has a successful career as Vice-President of one of the leading financial institutions in the country.

Throughout the early 1980's, Suzy continued to teach and choreograph in the classic Armenian style, utilizing primarily classical composers, such as Grigor Yeghiazaryan, Alexander Spentiaryan, and Aram Khachaturian among many others. However, in the early 1980's, she became inspired by the legendary Ballet Master of the State Dance Ensemble of Armenia, Vanoush Khenamerian, and began to initiate more traditional dances into the group. In 1988, Suzy had the opportunity to meet the celebrated choreographer during one of his tours in California. It was indeed an honor to meet and consequently befriend this long revered idol of hers. 1994, she had the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with Noryar Merhabyan, and together, they have collaborated on many different occasions. Under Suzy's leadership, Ani Dance Company has flourished and enjoyed domestic and international renown.

However, her most salient dream was to perform in our homeland, Armenia. After many years of endurance, this dream was first realized in 1999 when the dance company celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. It was in Armenia that Suzy had the opportunity to not only visit the historic Biblical sites, but also to meet and befriend professional dancers and choreographers. When asked out her experiences in Armenia, Suzy will say that the rewards which came from these journeys have completed her not just as a choreographer, but as a person. Since its memorable first visit, the dance group has enjoyed three journeys to Armenia and is always looking forward to the next one. In September of 2001, the Dance Group became part of Hamazkayin Regional Executive Affiliate and the group was renamed Hamazkayin Ani Dance Company.

Over the years, Suzy and the Ani Dance Company have been awarded many honors and accolades including Highest Medal of the Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Society, Recognition Award of Western Prelacy of the Apostolic Armenian Church of America granted by Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, and Recognition Award from Cultural Minister of Yerevan, Armenia and Stepanakert, Artsakh. Additionally, the Ani Dance Company has received official recognition from both the California State Senate and the United States Congress, as well as an honorable mention from California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger and United States Congressman, Adam Schiff.

Though she has enjoyed working with many genres within the realm of Armenian dance, there are a few of her pieces that will always hold a special place with Suzy. These include, "Swans", "Ayisha", "Artskakh", "Armenian Suite", "Echoes from Homeland", "and Requiem/Memoria", which is dedicated to the memory of departed dancers and Suzy's late, beloved father, who was always a constant source of inspiration. For Suzy, these pieces require an extensive knowledge of dance, a strong classical and modern background, and a combination of discipline and passion. Because these theatrical dances share the common theme of great expression, Suzy feels that in order for the dance to be performed at its best, the dancer must strive to reach the audience on an emotional level.

Reflecting over thirty-five years of dedication to Ani, Suzy relishes the experiences that only such a unique group can offer. The dance company has performed approximately two hundred times, and each of those performances remain meaningful to Suzy. Working and traveling in such close proximities as they do, the members of Ani are a close knit group; indeed they have become Suzy's second family. Over three decades of laughter and tears, marriages, children and funerals, and Christmas parties and summer picnics reside in Suzy's memories, and she is proud of the friendships that have been forged through them. She recalls the past with fondness and looks ahead to the new generation with enthusiasm. While retired dancers remain her close friends and offer help in any way they can, new generation of dancers rejuvenate her spirits and promise a fresh outlook on the world of dance.


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