11/03/22 (Last modified 11/03/22)
This section of our website aims to document and share performances of various traditional Armenian dances that have been preserved by Diasporan communities in the United States. To this end, Houshamadyan is partnering and collaborating with a group of Armenian dance experts who have produced appropriate dance notations for documentation. This group consists of Carolyn Rapkievian (of Bar Harbor, Maine), Susan and Gary Lind-Sinanian (of Watertown, Massachusetts), Tom Bozigian (of Los Angeles, California), and Robert Haroutunian (Sunyside, NY).
“Houshig Moushig” is a traditional song-dance from Yerzenga/Erzindjan. It is a popular song with playful lyrics, widespread throughout much of Western Armenia and other regions of the Ottoman Empire inhabited by Armenians. There were many different regional variations of both the lyrics and the melody. Most versions start with the phrase ‘Ousdi Goukas?’, ‘Ouska Goukas?’, ‘Ore Gu Goukas?’ or another variation of this phrase, meaning ‘Where do you come from?’ The basic step can be danced without any embellishments as a simple song-dance. The swiveling variation of “Houshig Moushig” is popular. The crouch where the handkerchief touches the ground and then the body returns to an upright position is in the style of Yerzenga.
Notes: Shavalee, a dance from Garin/Erzurum, has some similarities. The lyrics of the song, “Houshig Moushig” mention Van, thus the dance is sometimes incorrectly attributed to Van. There is a different dance called “Ouska Goukas,” performed by international folk dancers, which uses a related melody and lyrics; its origin is unclear.
1934. Armenians from Yerzenga/Erzindjan on a nature excursion in Detroit (Source: Karnig Sdepanian, Yerzenga/Erzindjan: from Antiquity to Today, Yerevan State University Press, Yerevan, 2005).
- Sources: Arsen Anoushian, Hourig Sahagian, Margaret Kyrkostas, Hasmig Aroian
- Formation: Open-circle in ‘Armenian hold’ (little fingers interlocked with hands held at shoulder height.)
- Style: Erect and relaxed, steps are light. There is a slight ‘bounce’ as one takes steps. The steps are small but with style rather than trying to move a significant distance.
1 - 6
Moving to the left, step Left to left as arms sway to the left and heads turns to left diagonal (count 1). Step/close Right beside Left as arms sway to right and head turns to the right (count 2). Repeat twice more (counts 3-6).
7 - 8
Step Left to left as arms sway to the left and head turns to left (count 7). Step/close Right beside Left, no weight, as arms pause to left with slight ‘bob’ and head looks to left (count 2).
9 - 10
Step Right to right as arms sway to right (count 9), Close/touch Left beside Right, no weight, as arms pause to right with “bob” (count 10).
11 - 12
Step Left to left as arms sway to left and head looks to left (count 11), Close/touch Right beside Left, no weight, as arms pause to left with ‘bob’ (count 12).
13 - 16
Moving to the right, step Right to right with a slight lean forward while arms sway forward (count 13). Step Left across Right as arms sway low (count 14). Step Right to right as straightening torso as arms swing up (count 15). Close/touch Left beside Right, no weight, as arms pause to right (count 16).
Note: If the dance leader is waving a handkerchief, the dance leader can brush the ground with it on counts 14-15.
Yerzenga/Erzindjan. The faculty of the Chrisdinian Girls’ School. Only the two men have been identified – on the left is Bedros Pogharian (the school principal), and on the right is Krikor Karprielian (Source: Erzindjan Illustrated Album, Constantinople, 1907, prepared for Bishop Maghakia Ormanian).
|1 - 3||1 - 6||Starting with feet together and knees slightly bent, pivot/swivel on heels to point toes to left diagonally as hands sway to left (count 1). Maintaining bent knees, shift weight onto the toes and then pivot/swivel heels to left diagonally back, as hands return to center position (count 2). Repeat twice more (counts 3-6).|
|4||7 - 8||Pivot/swivel on heels to point toes to left diagonally as hands sway to left (count 7). Shift weight onto the toes and then pivot/swivel heels to center position facing forward as hands return to center position (count. 8).|
|5 - 8||9 - 16||Same as movements in measures 5-8 of basic sequence.|