The Arev Armenian Dance Ensemble was established in January 2015. “Arev” means “sun” in the Armenian language.  Our mission is to share our rich culture with both the Armenian community and with general public audiences internationally.  Built on the shoulders of the successful Arax Armenian Dance Ensemble, our goal is aimed at preserving authentic Armenian folk dances while demonstrating the vibrancy of a living tradition.

The Arev Armenian Dance Ensemble is especially privileged to be accompanied by the Hyetones – an acoustic ensemble of musicians playing traditional Armenian folk music. Traditionally, music and dance accompanied everything from family celebrations to fieldwork. Like much Eastern music, Armenian music is modal, based on un-tempered scales instead of octaves. Armenian dance music also features unusual rhythms such as 5/4 and 9/8.

Photo by Jeff Urban

The ensemble’s unique emphasis is preserving and performing Armenian dances from our ancestors including Anatolia and other communities of ancient Western Armenia. We perform unique line and circle dances, graceful improvisations featuring delicate arm and hand movements, and lively energetic dances. Some of our dances are presented in their traditional form; some are choreographed for the stage from traditional dances. Many of our performances conclude with audience participation dances.

The Arax Armenian Dance Ensemble, named after the Arax River that winds through both eastern and western (historic) Armenia, performed widely in the Washington, DC region at both public and private events from 2004-2014 and members currently participate in Arev Armenian Dance Ensemble performances.

Artistic director Carolyn Okoomian Rapkievian has been researching, teaching, and performing dance in a professional capacity for more than 30 years.  Her directing highlights include the Arev Armenian Dance Ensemble (2015-20), the Arax Armenian Dance Ensemble (2004-15), and the Washington Grove Ballet (2000-2004). Her performance experience includes AGBU’s Antranig Dance Ensemble (1992-1999), Dancefolk (1985-1991), Palamakia (Greek) Dancers (1986-1991), Nashville Ballet (1990).  Carolyn grew up dancing at Armenian family and social functions.  She has studied Russian, Polish, and Hungarian dancing and continues to study ballet.  In addition to Armenian dance, she has taught character ballet and ballroom dancing for dance companies, universities, and public folk festivals.