Dance in Armenia can broadly be divided into traditional dance and classical ballet, the latter considerably influenced by the Russian school. The traditional dances which are encountered in Armenia today are those of eastern Armenia and as such differ in some respects from the dances of Armenian groups abroad which usually represent the western Armenian tradition. The energetic men's dance Jo Jon (also called Zhora Bar) comes from Spitak province. Mom Bar, meaning 'Candle Dance', was originally from the Lake Sevan region and is now traditionally the last dance at wedding parties. The candles are blown out at the end of the dance signalling that it is time for guests to leave. Women's solo dances called Naz Bar, meaning 'Grace Dance', are improvisatory with intricate hand gestures used to tell stories of love, betrayal, conflict and triumph. In Yerevan in particular choreographic schools and song and dance ensembles preserve the tradition in a form suitable for stage presentation, although funding is more difficult than in the Soviet era.
The musical accompaniment can be played on traditional instruments or sung (or both). Costumes for women are invariably sumptuous, whether based on medieval court dress or on simpler peasant dress. Brightly coloured shimmering dresses are decorated with gold embroidery and pearls. A light lace veil surmounts the embroidered hat. For men costume is simpler. Full trousers and embroidered tunics or else the cherkessa, traditional Caucasian dress similar to Cossack style, with red, white or black silk trousers, leather boots, woollen or fur hat, and a dagger in the belt. Men's dances are martial and vigorous; women's are graceful with elaborate gestures.
Funding is also more difficult for classical ballet, performed at the Spendiarian Opera and Ballet Theatre. The standard of dance remains high but numbers of Armenian dancers are making successful careers in western Europe and North America and the pool of talent remaining in Yerevan has diminished.
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