Rima Pipyan

Rima Pipoyan: ‘When I Am Creating, I Feel Like I Am Not on the Earth’

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By Artsvi Bakhchinyan

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

YEREVAN — I have known dancer and choreographer Rima Pipoyan for more than ten years. Together we have participated in modern dance lessons and I have watched more than a dozen of her performances. She is one of the few young professionals who always says something new in our art and about whom you will not say “promising” anymore, as she has justified all hopes one after another and is never being satisfied of what she has achieved. Like many artists who are constantly in search of creativity, she does not care about archiving her work.

Dear Rima, let’s start our conversation with the opinion of Lithuanian ballet figure Jurijus Smoriginas. “I have often noticed that interesting choreographers come not from great dancers, but from so-called mediocrities.” As a dancer and choreographer do you agree with him?

Actually he was right, I totally agree. Today, many world-famous choreographers and dance teachers prove the truth of these words. In my opinion, the dancer, lacking the ideal ballet body or skills, is starting to think more, to work more, to study more to achieve the perfection that the given art requires. By doing so, he gains deeper knowledge, which later he is being able to pass it in a more accessible way to his pupils, students, students, or artists. In my opinion this is the way to become a good dance teacher, and to become a good choreographer you need to have a vivid imagination and talent. And most of all, one should have love, great dedication, and boundless diligence.

I have not gone the easy way as a dancer, but I am happy and grateful for the challenges I have encountered in my creative life – they have polished and shaped me as an artist, as a director, as a thinker, as a human being in general. I was still a 14-year-old student at the State Choreographic College when I handed out my first ballet libretto on paper, which remained on paper, and I began to compose dances since I can remember. Who knows, if everything in my life were ideal and easily accessible, I probably would not have done anything

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And even if you never wore pointe shoes, you still perform in modern dance performances.

Although I still dream of dancing “Giselle,” at any rate today I am free to stage and dance whatever I want. I cannot live without creativity and I value my “freedom” very much.  My love for classical ballet has not changed since childhood. Now, I appreciate it even more, but there was a moment in my life when I realized that the ideas I had could not be expressed only by the movements of ballet and classical dance. The movements automatically came into me, born mainly through improvisations. Of course, for me it was important to take master classes from modern dance specialists, studying Asian martial arts, philosophy, religion; they helped to further refine, strengthen and substantiate my knowledge and movements. It is also very important when you are trying to find your own style, to discover your world; this is one of the major points of modern dance art. The freedom that I lacked in classical ballet, modern dance gave to me.

I remember your “La vita nuova,” a contemporary ballet performance at the X Theater Festival in 2013, and we were all upset when the jury gave the first prize to an alumni’s ten-minute performance, which much inferior to yours.

Art is a field of subjective perceptions, and since the jury members had nothing to do with dance or ballet art, at best they could only say whether the performance touched their heart or not. Frankly saying, not winning a prize did not affect me, after a while we were awarded the Artavazd Prize, one of the highest awards in the Armenian theatrical field, but it did not change anything in our creative life.

If I remember correctly, “La vita nuova” was partially funded by the Georgians.

Yes, it was staged with funding from the Ministry of Culture of Georgia, and they also partially financed my contemporary ballet performance “Sinful Passions” based on Beethoven’s music, which took place marking the jubilee of ballerina Maria Divanyan’s stage activity. The performance premiered in July 2015 at the Alexander Spendiaryan National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater.

Topics: Modern Dance

To develop modern dance, one should not just copy styles, techniques, but change mindsets and thus enter the field. How ready is Armenia for a change in mentality when it comes to dance?

Yes, the important thing is the mind; if the mind is ready, the body easily obeyed. I used to have amateur dance groups, and I noticed that people over the age of 20, who have never danced and have developed minds, can easily perceive and reproduce new movements. Sometimes it is very interesting to look at and follow people who have no physical training or dance instructions. One can also learn and even get almost the same aesthetic that a trained body has. After all, modern dance was created by people who wanted to express their thoughts in mature age without having a ballet educated body. People always call me asking if I have a permanent group where they can come and learn modern dance. How can I have such a group?

We do not even have a special stage for dance and dance theater in Yerevan. By the way, I have heard that we have a theater of choreography in the ground floor of our choreographic college. Such a theater would seem to be the most suitable place for presenting modern ballet performances…

This theater, which was established by our eminent choreographer Maxim Martirosyan at the time, is unfortunately in a hopeless state and is on the verge of closing. It could have been a great platform for developing contemporary dance art in Armenia, educating new generations and presenting our art to the international community.

Classical dance has its fixed positions, postures, movements. In modern ballet, the creator is free. But I have always wondered how modern dance movements are created: does the music t give birth to them?

When I was in Berlin, the Germans asked me the same question. Many people are interested in this question, but I can never find a clear answer. I can only say that there are no clear rules for me to create; the mind, the music, the time, the possibilities of the body inspire and dictate me. When I put on a performance for a certain female dancer, all my work is being based on the image, skills, and peculiarities of her. While staging a performance I put the emphasis on music, but it is the subject that often comes to my mind the first, and I start searching for relevant music, which is a much more complicated process.

Don’t you think that traditional Armenian dance movements can also interestingly live a new life in contemporary dance performances?

Of course they can, and it is only appreciated. For example, in the presentation of “Medieval Images,” which was my diploma thesis, I tried to reproduce the positions, gestures and movements depicted in our miniatures in a new way, by combining them with classical dance elements. I also love doing the opposite – inventing new movements under traditional Armenian music and stage them in a new approach. However, what is typical of our traditional dances – twists of wrists, shoulder movements, so-called springs, etc., I have not yet tried to include in my performances. Maybe in the future I will make such an attempt.

You have been on constant tours lately and have received numerous invitations from different countries to stage and perform. What is your activity here in Armenia and what are your goals?

Yes, in recent years the invitations fortunately (and maybe unfortunately), are so many that in my workplaces they jokingly say “you have become a mirage, you appear in our eyes occasionally.” Because of my absence, I had to leave the State Institute of Theater and Cinema where I had been teaching for seven years.

My “A Woman before Decision Making” solo received invitations from over 10 countries and was presented in over 30 different cities, participating in prestigious festivals and competitions around the world, receiving numerous awards.

In Italy, Poland, Croatia, Germany, I presented my “Hello, Kitty” performance, which I will present in Moldova this November.

I was in Venice in May-June this year; I was invited by the prestigious Venice International Biennale to stage a performance with seven dancers selected specifically for this project. After two months of work, the performance called “What If” was premiered at the Piccolo Arsenale Theater in Venice. The audience and critics enthusiastically accepted the performance. The “Self-portrait” solo dance that I recently staged and which I perform myself, went on tour in Belgium, Germany and was also a great success.

In November, I will travel to Spain to start a new project as a producer and dancer. I have many programs related to Armenia. But one of my dreams right now is to stage Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” at our Opera and Ballet Theater and form a repertoire of contemporary ballet performances. I hope that we will perform it here next spring, with the talented composer and conductor Alexander Iradyan, who has enthusiastically agreed to head the orchestra. We also intend to invite a Ukrainian choreographer, a leading soloist from the Kiev Academic Theater and Kiev Modern Ballet Artyom Shoshin, who will work and perform in a one-act modern ballet with Komitas’s music.

Still so much!

 

And I have no doubt that, despite all sorts of difficulties you will fulfill all them quite successfully. Good luck, dear Rima, to all your projects – both close and distant!

 

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