Davit Galstyan

Davit Galstyan: ‘I Chose the Most Glorious Profession’


YEREVAN — The Yerevan State Choreographic College of Dance is one of my favorite places in our city; the office of its director exudes high art and taste. Since the end of last year, one of our best dancers, Davit Galstyan, has been working in that cozy room. Still young, at 38, and full of charm, Davit follows the footsteps of our outstanding ballet artists, Vilen Galstyan and Nadezhda Davtyan, both of whom have passed away. He studied at the Yerevan Choreographic College and the Royal Ballet School in London, from which he graduated with a gold medal, being recognized as one of the best students of the school for three years. In 2004-2022 he was the soloist of the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse (France). He performed leading roles in a number of classical and new classical ballets, participated in several gala-concerts, festivals and tours of European ballet stars in many countries: also danced in performances of the Yerevan Opera and Ballet Theater.

Davit, you have been in charge of your alma mater dance college for more than half a year. What changes have you managed to make?

Most importantly, two new one-act ballets were staged: the third act of “Raymonda” from the classic repertoire and my own staging “Back to the Roots” with music by Knudage Riesager. We had three performances on the college stage, the tickets were almost completely sold: the public demanded from us to repeat the performances, but we did not do it so as not to overburden the schoolchildren. This year we celebrated Aram Khachatryan’s 120th anniversary, with the partnership of the Spendiaryan Opera and Ballet Theater and Khachatryan’s house-museum, which provided us with unique film footage with Khachatryan’s participation. It was a very good evening, the sections of classical and folk dance were presented from the performances of Vilen Galstyan, Norayr Mehrabyan and Vanush Khanamiryan from Khachatryan’s works. Also, with the cooperation of  the Zark Foundation, we celebrated the 120th anniversaries of our ballet dancers Azat Gharibyan and Tereza Grigoryan in Yerevan and Gyumri. My wish is that our college should be maximally active in community events and regions. On April 29, we also participated in the International Dance Day concert on the stage of the Opera and Ballet Theater. I attach great importance to our children being able to dance on the big stage, since it motivates them and awakens other feelings in them. There are many projects, but it all depends on funding.

This year, the modern department of the college also had its first alumni. With great pleasure, I watched the graduation performances: Ara Asaturian’s “The Prophecy” and Rima Pipoyan’s “Dido and Aeneas.” They were truly original performances that can easily enter the repertoire of any theater.

Yes, our graduates made a great impression, they are a ready-made dance troupe. I am very sorry that in our country we still do not have a modern dance repertory, a suitable theater for contemporary dancers. Unfortunately, this resource of talented young people has no place to fully manifest itself. It would be wonderful if one day we had a college-affiliated youth group, both modern and classical, that would serve as a trampoline to the big stage.

Let’s hope that it will happen. Entering the college, certain technical changes are also noticeable.

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We now have a specialized, new stage floor of a very good quality: dancing on the old one was risky for injuries. We also had newly designed scenes, a back curtain, we bought new tutus for the girls, and new outfits for the boys. But there is a lot of work to be done, especially in terms of building infrastructure.

And now what does the college need the most?

Recruiting male dancers. In the last 30 years, Armenia has been a country that “supplied” boys to international ballet. We know how many talented young people from this college went to work in different countries (one of them was me). Before we finished, 15-16 countries invited us to continue our studies for free. But in the last five years we also have the problem that existed in Europe some 30 years ago. That’s why we have to do everything to restore the public’s interest in ballet. There is no such problem in the folk-dance section, the same in the modern section, but there are no boys there. Now there is an agreement with the principals of the schools that starting from September, like in the old Soviet times, we will go to the schools and choose suitable candidates for the ballet from among the boys. We must achieve the fact that the reputation of our college in the country will rise so much that many people will try to bring their sons here. The conditions are already good, we provide free food. The Ministry of Education and Culture also supports us in deferring boys from military service.

Don’t you intend to attract students from abroad as well?

So far, we have a girl from Japan. She worked so well that I could not leave her out of our program and included her in our last two productions. Next year we will have two more students from Japan.

I think our college can become the best ballet school in the region.

It is a goal that we must achieve. First of all, it would be desirable for our teachers to be trained. Then, it will be necessary to involve the young people of the opera theater who are at the end of their career (which we are already doing, our ballet soloists Sevak Avetisyan and Karen Martirosyan are teaching at the college). I don’t want to organize master classes for a short time: such work should be systematic, two or three times a year, with a certain plan. Only in this way will we be able to raise the qualification of our specialists. Why not, from time to time we can also organize master classes; this year Arsen Mehrabyan from Stockholm taught for a week, those short-term classes are also important, but they are not a solution to the problem. If we want to leave a legacy of good specialists after us, it should be with state support, organized, and I can bring the best specialists to be most useful.

Davit, you finished your career as a dancer. Wasn’t it a bit early? You are still in great shape.

In terms of age, maybe it was early. But, to be honest, I was on stage for 20 years and I had had enough. I had fulfilled all my dreams, goals and desires. There was also a big factor: my father was ill, so I left everything and came back to be by his side. At the same time, it was impossible to remain without work. Learning that the position of the director of the college was vacant, I studied for three months and received a certificate for the management of artisanal and secondary professional educational institution. Marine Hakobyan, director of the National Training Foundation, helped me a lot, so I was able to pass the exams and get the management certificate. I must say that my most recent performance, Nijinsky’s famous “The Afternoon of a Faun,” which took place in Toulouse, was emotionally very difficult. Imagine, I was sitting backstage before the performance, and twenty years passed before my eyes, after which I had to concentrate and go on stage to present my last performance to the audience. Anyway, that page was closed.

And you turned a new page by acting as a ballet master this year. Do you think you will continue to direct?

To be honest, I did not have the ambition to stage, but I did it out of necessity and the enthusiasm of my students, and it seems to have worked. All three performances received very good responses. I think I will continue and I have decided to stay in the classic and new classic genre. Although I am not bad at modern ballet, I have worked with choreography giants, like Kilian, Forsyth, Neumeier, Duato, etc., but since our employer is the Opera and Ballet Theater, and we are the provider of their ballet group, it is very important that I perform classical ballet productions.

We can say you have reached a very good milestone in your career. And in personal life?

It is in progress!

The prominent Danish dancer and ballet master August Bournonville said: “I chose the most glorious of all professions.” Do you agree with the sentiment?

I absolutely agree with him. I also chose the most glorious profession. I have never regretted that I took that path. Growing up in a ballet family, I have always loved dance. Today, I convey the same with great love to the talented students of our college. I am also very happy with this new status of mine, as I said, there is a lot to do. The responsibility is huge, but I am ready to do my best!


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