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INSTRUCTORS

Eddie | Pearlene | Apo | Shaghig

Eddie Megerdichian

Director

Instructor ImageEddie started his dance career at the age of 7 and has been dancing ever since. He studied Armenian dance under the direction of Apo Ashjian in both ABAKA and Sayat Nova Dance Company; which he is a current member and has been for 10 years now.

Megerdichian is also an instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Studios teaching ballroom dance. Before doing so he was the dance teacher at St. Vartanantz Armenian School during his college career. He is also a Zumba instructor and was in the Nutcracker as a child.

Eddie volunteers his time with Dancing with the Waltham Stars for the 3rd year in a row to help the Waltham Seniors. Eddie also took ballroom lesson at Fred Astaire Dance Studios (FADS) in Belmont and competed at the Regional competitions and won all that he competed in. He, in 2009, did his internship with FADS Eastern Regional Office as the Event Planner and Dance Instructor.

Eddie attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence RI and graduated in 2010 in the Hospitality field as an Event Planner.

Megerdichian resides in Cambridge.

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Pearlene Varjabedian

Assistant Director

Instructor Image Pearlene Varjabedian was born and raised in Boston , MA and has been active in Armenian Dance for over 20 years. She has studied under choreographers Flora Galoustian Rostamian, Apo Ashjian and Shaghig Palanjian. As a member in various Armenian Dance companies including Boston’s Hamazkayin“Erepouni” Dance Group, AGBU “Daron Dance Ensemble,” and the prominent “Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston” she has performed in various performances across the United States.

In 1990, Mrs. Varjabedian founded and directed the San Francisco based Hamazkayin “Groung Armenian Children’s Dance Group” and upon her relocation back to Boston she was an instructor at the Abaka Armenian School for Performing Arts from 1994-1997.

Over the past 15 years in Southern California, Pearlene continued her dedication in teaching the love and respect for Armenian Dance to Armenian youth. She directed and choreographed in Orange County, California with the St. Mary’s Zvartnotz Youth Choir and Dance Ensemble and then founded the Hamakzayin Yeraz School of Armenian Dance in 2002, where she was the Artistic Director/Choreographer for ten years until her recent relocation back to Boston in 2012. Her commitment and strong belief in preserving our unique Armenian culture, has led her teaching many students over the past several years and is excited about returning to her hometown of Boston, MA and re-joining ABAKA and its mission.

Pearlene presently resides in Bedford, MA with her husband and two children.

“I have had the privilege to teach our Armenian youth for the past 20 years. In such vast and widespread Armenian communities, it has been most rewarding to teach, knowing that each student has learned to respect and love our rich Armenian culture through dance and music. I am very proud that even in some small way… the seeds of the future continue to be planted and the rhythm of our ancestral beats and melody of Armenian songs will be preserved and danced to eternally…“

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Apo Ashjian

Founding Director

Instructor Image Apo has been active in Armenian dance for more than 30 years. Studying under choreographers Sarkis Paskalian and Ohan Armoudian, he has performed extensively with Armenian dance ensembles as well as with the internationally renowned Mandala Folk Ensemble.

In 1982, Ashjian directed his first production, "Tribute to Armenian Heritage," at Tufts University, in Medford, MA. He has been a director of the Erebouni Dance Ensemble of the Boston Chapter of Hamazkain (1980) and the Daron Dance Ensemble of the Greater Boston Chapter of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (1981-1985).

In October 1987, Ashjian traveled and studied with various dance ensembles in Armenia. At the invitation of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Armenians Abroad, he returned to Armenia twice, in January 1990 and September 1992, to continue his training. He studied with choreographer and soloist for the State Dance Ensemble of Armenia, Gagik Karapetian, and also with Artousha Karapetian, a choreographer and expert of ethnographic dances.

In 1994, Ashjian received a certification as an Armenian dance Director and Choreographer from the Dance Department of the Khatchadour Apovian School of Dance Instruction and Choreography. He completed the extensive five-year course of study, a few months at a time, during his many visits to Armenia.

Born in Syria and raised in Lebanon, Ashjian immigrated to the United States in 1970. After graduating from the Cambridge Public School System, he majored in Physical Education at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

Ashjian, his wife and three children live in Belmont, MA.

"My dream has always been to be able to provide an environment where kids and the youth of our communities can come together and, through the art of dance, learn about our culture, history and music. My hope is to be able to instill in them, love for our homeland and our people — at least as much as I do. My goal is to make a contribution to society by making a difference in the lives of our Armenian communities. This is what I live for and this is what I love doing with passion."

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Shaghig Palanjian

Instructor Image Shaghig has been involved in Armenian dance from a very young age. Studying under dance director Flora Kaloustian, she has been an instructor of Armenian dance for the Erebouni Dance Ensemble of the Boston Chapter of Hamazkain and an Assistant Director of the AGBU Daron Dance Ensemble of Boston. She is currently the Assistant Director of the Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston.

Born in Lebanon, she immigrated to the United States in 1976. Her interest in art has led her to study drama and ballet at Northeastern University. She lives in Waltham, MA along with her husband and two children.

She is the granddaughter of Armenian composer Parsegh Ganachian.

"Sharing the love of the Armenian culture presented through dance with the next generation of Armenians, is the most fulfilling, rewarding and humbling experience. Having taught all these years, it is amazing to see how the younger generations have grown, and now are teaching their children the basic love of our culture. Seeing our former students bringing their children to learn the culture through the art of dance, gives a sense of reward and accomplishment that words can not describe. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to serve our community and to pass on our rich heritage through teaching Armenian dance."