Thursday, July 28, 2016

"I asked if he would dance for me..."

Ishran dances in the mountains near Aparan, Armenia. Photograph: Antoine Agoudjian
In 1998, I found myself in Aparan, a large town an hour’s drive from Armenia’s capital, Yerevan. A local dance troupe was performing that evening, in the open air, with most of the suburb in attendance. The old, the young, everyone was present, sitting hunched on stools or cross-legged on the floor, transfixed. In the background, small mountains and jagged cliffs framed the scene.
As soon as I took my first shot, an old man approached me. Tears streamed down his face. He told me that his son had died. That he had been electrocuted, that he was his pride and joy, and that I looked just like him. He broke into sobs and moved towards me with outstretched arms. His name was Ishran.
I asked if he would dance for me, and he began dancing. The troupe paused and perched on an outcrop of rocks in the background. It was beautiful, not because the man is beautiful, but because he represents something deep inside the collective consciousness of the Armenian community: a celebratory resilience in the face of overwhelming loss.

1 comment:

  1. There's lots of Armenians in the California central valley. Genocide refugee's i suppose. I had an Armenian landlord years ago, and Al Mila was a real character. A farmer, who adored his wife, and unknowingly defended his sons marijuana plants from a stranger in his corn field, with a shot gun.

    Our well died one day, and he stood by while the well guys replaced the pump. And when one of them started to throw the old one in the back of their truck, Al asked him what he thought he was doing. The guy replied that it was just junk, and Al clarified that it was HIS junk. lol

    I loved that old man.