Tom Bozigian and Sheree King
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Tom G. Bozigian was born in Los Angeles, California, of Armenian parents. Tom's father immigrated from Gumri-Alexandropol (Leninakan), Armenia. Tom grew up in the Armenian community in Fresno, California, studying and experiencing Armenian language, music, and dance from both Caucasaian and Anatolian Armenians. Tom is particularly sought for his extensive knowledge of Armenian dances from the pre-1915 period. Following the massacres of the Armenian population in eastern Anatolia by the Ottoman Turks during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many survivors found their way to the United States and the lush agricultural area of central California -- the San Joaquin Valley -- especially around Fresno. Through the activities of many Armenian pan-patriotic organizations, immigrants maintained the many songs and dances representing their many regions. Tom frequented these affairs where he developed a life-long love of original Armenian song and dance. In addition to the dances of the pre-1915 period and the Caucasian Armenian dances, Tom specializes in the new Armenian folk dances and in choreography for stage presentation.
Schooled at Fresno State University, Tom holds an M.A. Degree in education and a B.A. Degree in the Russian language (Tom has taught Russian at Fresno City College and in the Pasadena, California, school system). Tom is fluent in English, Armenian, and Russian.
An All-Conference football player in high school, Tom achieved his highest sports honors when his Fresno Volleyball Club won the National Championships in Detroit, Michigan, and Tom was selected for the "All American" award. With the Fresno Power Volleyball Association, Tom was awarded "Player of the Year."
Returning to Los Angeles in 1968, Tom had the privilege of working with the renowned dancer / choreographer Jora Makarian, who prepared Tom for his later studies in Armenia. He took a seven-month dance program in Armenia that was arranged by the Armenian State Cultural Committee. He studied at the Sayat Nova Choreographic School, worked with both Armenian state ensembles, danced for an amateur group, and traveled into the Armenian interior to research village dances.
In 1973, Tom was invited by the Armenian government to return to Armenia to continue his studies in the Yerevan Sayat Nova Choreographic School's four-year folk dance program, and was awarded the diploma in dance choreography with a "Professional Dancer of the Soviet Union" certificate. Students study Armenian folk dance, classical ballet, character dance, and international dance forms. Various types of examinations are given periodically during the course and the final examination is made up of a large concert at the Philharmonic in Yerevan, capital of Soviet Armenia. There are three state dance ensembles (one is both song and dance). Two are located in Yerevan, the third in Kirovakan, in northern Armenia. Most of the new dancers of the state ensembles are selected and auditioned from the list of graduating students of the Sayat Nova Choreographic School. Some exceptionally talented factory-sponsored and village dancers, however, have "made the grade." Tom's dance repertoire is taken from the three main sources: state ensembles, factory-sponsored groups, and village groups.
Each year, Tom travels to Armenia to continue his research, working with various institutions and dance specialists. At the same time, he visits target areas throughout Armenia for the purpose of drawing comparisons of original dances from both Armenia and the Diaspora. Projected are travels to eastern Anatolia to complete his comparative analysis of the Armenian song and dance phenomenon.
For many years, Tom has been representing Armenia and her people through his music, language, and dance. Teaching tours have taken Tom to several parts of the world, including Japan, where he has been as well received as he has been in the many cities in the United States and Canada. Tom has been seen on the staffs of folk dance workshops, camps, and symposiums in San Diego (California), Santa Barbara (California), Stockton (California), Pawling (New York), and elsewhere. He was one of the organizers who established and co-directed the Hawaii International Song and Dance Symposium for five years at the University of Hawaii (Oahu) and Santa Barbara Folk Dance Symposium for twenty years.
Tom has set innumerable suites of Armenian dances for stage presentations, working with both Armenian and non-Armenian organizations. Tom has staged Armenian suites for the AMAN Folk Ensemble, the Duquesne University Tamburitzans, the Het Internationaal Danstheater of Amsterdam, and various Armenian ethnic ensembles around the world. He regularly tours the Orient and Europe, teaching Armenian dance to international folk dance collectives and groups within Armenian communities. An Armenian dance medley that Tom choreographed with Frederich Yeung for the Legacy European Folk Dance Troupe of Hong Kong won the First Place Gold award in the 21st Hong Kong Open Dance Contest in 1993.
The dance material Tom presents is exciting and applicable to all levels of dancers, and runs in many forms, including solo, couple, line, group, male-only, and female-only. His instruction includes Russian character, Lebanese (dabke), and Greek folk dances. He presents suites of Armenian dances for exhibition ensembles and gives college and university lectures in Armenian history, language, and music, complete with sound films Tom took of his experiences in Soviet Armenia.
A professional precussionist of music of the Caucasus, Near East, and the Balkans, Tom mastered the very complicated rhythmic meters of these regions in which he has many years of experience. Tom leads a folklore orchestra that has produced numerous recordings which are available from your local folk dance recording outlet or directly from Tom himself. He continues his classical dance training, studies musical arrangement and harmony, and directs a disk-jocky service called "Hye Bar Entertainment."
Tom and his wife, Sheree King, also a dancer and choreographer, live in the Los Angeles, California, area, where now the largest concentration of Armenians reside outside of Armenia. Sheree directs the Dance Department at Long Beach City Colledge and has been a certified Pilates instructor since 1993. Pilates is a method of body conditioning that focuses on core strengthening, body alinment, and flexibility.
Tom relates that his grandfather's father danced Agar Magar, Kochari, Pompouri, and Tamzara in their natural environment in Armenia.
Dances Tom has taught include Abaranjani Bar, Agar Magar, Aghcheekneroo Par, Aghcheek de Yel Khagha, Al Kalaa, Ali Ali (Ally Ally), Aree Yar Yar, Ashtarkee Par, Ambee Dageets (Armenian Turn), Ammer Ya Maalem, Azgagrakan, Bar Kafaneets, Bardezuh Mer, Beejo (Bijo), Beet Kroonk, Bert Par, Chastooshki, Chors Goghk, Daldala Chandrozhee, Daronee, Daronee Yerker Yev Barer, Darontsineroo Bar, Debka Beirut, Debki Misirlou, Detroit, Dzakh Par, Dugha Zaven, Dzagh Bar, Eench Eemanee (Armenian Misirlou), Elloo Yar, Forka Forka, Fresno, Garoon (Karoun), Govand, Guhneega, Halay, Harsaneek, Hasaposerviko, Hashtayee, Hay Vala, Hayrer oo Mamoogner, Heeng oo Meg, Hey Vala, Hop Shourma, Hoy Nar, Jadili (Jeddili, Jeitili), Kadeh Yes Em, Karoun (Garoun), Karsi Bar, Kesabtsi Barer, Khahch, Khumkhuma (Teen), Kocharee, Lalvan, Loorke, Loosnee Shoghov (Moon Light), Loree, Lorkay (Lorge), Lorke-Lorke, Mamyana, Mandrakhagher - Ishkhani Veri Veri, Mareeyda, Martoonoo Kocharee, Mayorke, Medax Tashginag, Moosh, Moosh Barı, Moosho Gorani, Mooshooker, Nareh - Dikranagerd, Neenam Neenam, Oee Naze, Oor es Doo, Paeelanjo, Papakhnerov Par, Par Kafaneets, Pararee Sharan, Pompooreeg, Qafan Harsneekee Bar, Qafan Tsernapear (Kafan Wedding Dance), Rusion Cucumber Garden, Sadiye, Sari Sirun Yar - Yes Boojoor Sasoon, Sasoonashentsee, Seenjane Ovsana, Sepastia Bar (Sepo), Sepo, Sev Acherov Aghcheek (Girl with the Black Eyes), Sevani Bar, Shatty ya Deney, Shavalee, Sheikhani, Shiragi Tars Par, Shoorj Par, Shoror Aghcheek, Sirdes, Siroon Aghcheek (Sweet Girl), Syrtos, Tab el Hawa, Tahnzara - Arabkir, Tamzara, Tamzara - Pompooreeg, Tarontseeneero Par, Telloo se Yedee, Top Shourma, Tsatkeh, Tughmartneroo Kocharee, Vana Gyond (Soghag), Vana Loreeg (Soolemanee) - Kerdze, Vana - Martig, Vanik Bolor, Vari Hasapikos, Vartevar, Voske Aparanjan, Ya Hazhal Sannine, Yelel em Alagoz, Yerevan Bar, Yerzengatsee-Maeeroke, Yes Gharib Em, Yotnerort Kogheen Barh ("Dance of the Seventh Veil"), Zaroura, Zhedili, and Zhora Bar (Jo Jon).