Sirun Aghchik is a traditional Armenian folk song. After the Armenian Holocaust in ca. 1915, survivors scattered around the world – one point of concentration being Fresno, California. With so much of their cultural heritage and memory destroyed, Armenians tried to fill the gap by holding contests for best new Armenian dance. This choreography was the 1953 winner.
Here’s my favorite musical version of the song, by the Gomidas band.
Gary Lind-Sinanian wrote: “All your info is correct. The song was originally composed by Udi Hrant https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udi_Hrant_Kenkulian while courting Aghavni, his future wife.
In the US the popular song was modified into a 10/8 meter for dancing a ‘Shuffle’. Tom Bozigian was one of the creators of the specific ‘Sirun Aghchik’ dance now done to it, but technically almost any 10/8 of that tempo could be used.
I’ll need to check with Bozigan about that….was that step originally meant for that specific melody or did that specific association come later?
The notion of formal dance contest to create ‘new dances’ was more common on the West Coast, the process in the East was less formal. You cite the destruction and loss of the old culture as a factor, which it was, but another is generational shift. The old dances were very specific to each region (only Vanetsis do Vanetsi dances, etc) and provincial. The dances were old-fashioned reflecting the old provincialism. The young post-war generation was more “American-Armenian’ than ‘(province)-Armenian’ so the new dances reflected a new broader identification and music/dance style….Nothing else to add. You’ve covered the major points”