By Tom Vartabedian
CRESSKILL, N.J. — Sosy Krikorian Kadian was a true devotee of dance, feeling it, embracing it and teaching it. She loved it and loved teaching it to younger generations and imparting the joys of moving to the beat.
That’s how I shall remember this magnificent Armenian. That is how we shall all cherish her friendship. She put the “class” in classic; she was the grand dame of her genre.
Her death on August 12 closes the chapter on the life of an iconic Armenian who served her ambassadorship through dance and the arts. She was 87 but never used her age as an excuse to refrain from a solo or a dance class.
I caught up with her a few times, whether it was aboard a cruise ship or at the Poconos during Armenian Week. While most of us were there to kef the night away, Sosy came with a mission. Like the Pied Piper, she would summon the children to her side and teach them the rudiments.
Gradually, these same youngsters grew into adulthood and brought their own kids to Sosy.
I was there one bustling day when a child was glued to the wall. His mother brought him to the class but couldn’t get him to join the activity.
Sosy made it a point to encourage the child and took him by the hand like a grandmother. She brought him to the forefront and taught him all the moves. The boy was thrilled and took to the dance.
The image of a grown woman dancing with a child inside a circle of enthusiasts was a sight to behold. Her charm and charisma induced yet another student of the arts. Had you seen the look on that mother’s face, you would have melted.
Crooner Onnik Dinkjian included her in a song titled Karnan Dzaghig.
For years, she staged productions in the Mid-Atlantic area, teaming up with sidekick Hourig Sahagian-Papazian to form an eclectic ensemble called “The Way We Were.” The musical revue depicted first-generation Armenians arriving here to set the tone for community life.
At a talk one day honoring the work of writer/author Lucine Kasbarian, Sosy Kadian was in her element. She did not dance but rather displayed her true Armenian colors with a powerful message to Hamazkayin listeners at Sts. Vartanantz Church.
“We often believe that miracles occurred only in olden times — that they don’t really happen in this day and age,” she said. “And yet, isn’t it a miracle that we are gathering here today, a group of Armenians, in a building where the Armenian flag is raised beside the American flag, sitting here at a lecture presentation in the Armenian language?
“We are living in an age of miracles. We see them all around us. But because there is a disconnect among us, because we are constantly rushing and seeking immediate gratification, we do not always notice these miracles,” she resumed.
Sosy was enamored by Kasbarian’s book, Armenia: A Rugged Land, an Enduring People and got to applaud both the author and her work that day in 1998.
One cannot think about Sosy without fondly recalling her husband Hagop, who died in 1994. They formed a dance partnership throughout their married lives.
“Everyone who knew Sosy, even in merely a casual way, was saddened to hear the news,” said Mark Gavoor, a close family friend. “She was part of that great American generation but in a very American-Armenian way. She carried that noble spirit of her land, the yergir, and its people in her heart and soul. Sosy created a new Armenia in everything she did. Her Armenia was an inspiration to countless Armenians.”
Musician Ara Topouzian couldn’t say enough about the impact she had upon his career and life in general, despite the age difference. Sosy put him on stage to play tambourine in a presentation at Atlantic City and took an immediate shine to Armenian music.
The other musicians he stood with were the second-generation Vosbikians. Topouzian was merely 9 at the time and matured into a prominent musicologist and recording artist in Detroit.
“Deegeen Sosy, preserved and passed along Armenian cultural traditions,” he said. “It was important that she exposed younger generations to our rich heritage. She sang, danced, wrote and read poetry. She played music.”
Sosy Krikorian leaves her children Raffi Kadian and Nvair Beylerian; her son-in-law Zareh, her four grandchildren Adi, Raffi Jr., Tamar and Lucine, as well as three great-grandchildren.
She was a career educator in the Fort Lee Public Schools, and a uniquely prominent keeper of the Armenian tradition, through her endless dedication to writing and performing, and teaching song, language and dance to so many generations.
May her powerful spirit shine.