Lilit Hakobyan

Lilit Hakobyan: Showing the “Real” Side of Dance


YEREVAN / HANOVER, Germany — Ballet dancer and choreographer Lilit Hakobyan has worked in Germany since 2007. A daughter of Armenian ballet artists, from 1998 to 2006, she studied at the Yerevan School of Dance. In 2006-2007, she performed at the Yerevan Spendiaryan Opera and Ballet Theater (“Gayane,” “Don Quixote,” “Giselle,” “Carmen-suite”). Between 2007 and 2011, she worked at Flensburg Dortmund Ballet, Hof theater, dancing in ballets by Balanchine, Forsythe and Soto. Since 2011, Lilit has been a solo dancer at the Hanover State Theater; she has danced in productions by Marco Goecke, Jiri Kylian, Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, Hans van Manen, Medhi Walerski, Adonis Foniadakis, Jörg Mannes, Nadav Zelner, Goyo Montero and Mario Schröder.

Lilit, a Japanese proverb says “All dancing girls are nineteen years old.” Do you also agree?

I mean when you look to a dance performance, perhaps everyone looks 19-year-old, by the amount of energy it comes across, perhaps gives that very young feeling out there. For a while, I have not felt 19.

The male members of your generation’s Armenian ballet dancers have been very successful working abroad. How do you explain that the girls were comparably fewer than the men?

There can be two aspects that I can think of. In Europe boys get scholarships easier than girls, so therefore it is easier to get free studies and jobs later. Another aspect, is, I think that as an Armenian girl, it is not that easy to convince your family to leave the country.

George Balanchine said that woman is first and men are consorts in his ballets. “God made men to sing the praises of women. They are not equal to men: They are better.” Is he right?

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I mean maybe. Maybe that is an old saying. I believe it is not about who is better. But can we make it better together and put aside the male and female?

Lilit Hakobyan

Of course, we can! You studied with the great masters of Armenian ballet pedagogy. What has each of them given to you?

Silva Hakobjanyan gave me the base, the most important one. Lola Gyurjian gave me doubts and questions, insecurities to make me sure if I really want to choose this profession. Anna Marikyan gave me the answers, gave me inspiration to continue. Maria Divanyan gave me sensibility to feel this art form truly. And her performance on stage inspired me every day as well. She was the teacher that made me understand why I am doing this and why I am here. Armen Grigoryan was my last teacher. He gave me the physicality in dance performance, strengthening and an enormous amount of discipline. Hovhannes Divanyan gave me all of this together; he is the heart of it all and he is the reminder of why I love this art form so much!

And now you are involved in directing. This year you participated for the second time in Armenia’s Summit International Dance Festival. Your choreography titled “Heartless” with the Petersburg Kannon Dance artists was the final and major part of the festival. We all were just fascinated by your usage of the movements unusual for contemporary dance and the nerve and drive of the whole performance! What inspired this outstanding piece?

First of all, thank you very much for your words! It was an honor for me show my piece to the Armenian audience.

The inspiration for “Heartless” came when I was sitting in a café on the beach in Greece. It was very calm and quiet. I was reading Fragility of Facts book of essays by Hannah Arndt, having so different dynamic from the calmness around me. When I arrived in Petersburg, I knew I am going to make these essays into a dance piece, no matter how hard it would be, to turn an essay to a dance performance.

Topics: Ballet, Dance

Inspiration itself can come in very different forms. But it can also be as simple as a good book, a cup of good coffee, but in this case, I felt extremely inspired in the city of Petersburg with the really amazing dancers of the Kannon dance company.

Agnes de Mille once said: “Modern dancers give a sinister portent about our times.” Do you agree?

Well, and it continues by saying “The dancers don’t even look at one another, they are just a lot of isolated individuals jiggling in a kind of self-hypnosis and dancing with others only to remind themselves that we are not alone in this world.” But when did she say this? In 1960s? I do not agree, at least in the world I create, it is not my intention. And maybe because modern dance shows the “real” side of the dance, without faking anything. Does it come across like a sinister portent? When you see the raw reality, it is always a bit scary, right?

Well, right… Have you ever fulfilled a project that can be called Armenian?

No, I have not! But I choreographed a little dance film called “Sleep Easy” that is inspired by some movements from Armenian folk dances and it was dedicated to our soldiers. I think making a good Armenian project or a dance piece its really, really hard; it is a very fragile topic that I am afraid to touch it yet…


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