Sayat Nova Dance Company Performs at 30th Annual Peabody Festival

Photo Credit: Viken Karaguesian Photos

By Aram Arkun

Mirror-Spectator Staff

PEABODY, Mass. — The Sayat Nova Dance Company performed at the 30th annual Peabody International Festival on September 14. The festival is sponsored by the City of Peabody in order to showcase its ethnic diversity. This year, according to the mayor’s office, attendance at the festival was the largest it has ever been. The police estimate that that there were somewhere between 65,000 and 75,000 visitors. Performers appeared on three different stages, while there were over seventy booths selling various types of foods and specialty items. In addition to dancing, Sayat Nova members manned the Armenian booth, which had all kinds of Armenian delicacies and desserts.

A number of government officials spoke at the event, which was televised live on a local cable station. Peabody Mayor Edward Bettencourt declared to the crowd that Peabody could serve as a model for much of the world in its tolerance and promotion of different cultures. He told the Mirror-Spectator later that he was very proud of the Armenians who have lived for a long time in Peabody, and who have made such great contributions to its development.

The festival was started in 1984 by Mayor Peter Torigian. This year, Jackie Torigian, the widow of the late Peabody mayor, Peter Torigian, introduced Sayat Nova by stating that of course it was her husband’s favorite. Eight male and eight female dances from the group dressed in heavy velvet costumes performed a number of lively Armenian traditional dances in front of more than 150 spectators. Sayat Nova Dance Group of Boston, founded in 1986, is directed by Apo Ashjian.

In addition to Armenians, some of the ethnic groups participating in the festival included Greeks, Portuguese, Brazilians, Jews, Italians, Hispanics and Poles.