After the Velvet Revolution and the events that some are calling the “Armenian Spring,” Armenians from all over the world are looking back towards the homeland to understand the next steps. For Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city and cultural capital, part of the answer lies in a new center that will combine performance arts, education, and research.


The Kharatian Experiential Centre for the Performing Arts is set to begin construction in 2019, and to open in 2021. It’s conceived as a state-of-the-art multi-purpose centre that will act as a hub for a new and interdisciplinary approach to dance and high culture. Its performance space, humanities and movement research centre, dance academy, and choreography programme are among the many facets of the projects that are designed to bring people from all over Armenia, and all over the world, to Gyumri.


buildings of Gyumri

The future Arts center will be located in one of the historic buildings of Gyumri, the former cultural Palace of Railway Employees, known as the Sevyan Club. The building is situated across from the railway station of Gyumri. This place used to be busy and bustling – but after the 1988 earthquake this quarter of Gyumri was left derelict.


30 years after the earthquake that shook the city in the midst of an economic crisis, Gyumri is known today more for the dissonance between its status as Armenia’s second largest urban centre and its lack of development opportunities. This project, large in both size and financial investment, will reinvigorate the now lackluster area surrounding the train station. With its education programs for people of all ages, it will promote creativity. By encouraging citizens to use this creativity in their homes and streets, it will help weave back into Gyumri’s social fabric the famous artistic culture that had enriched it so much.


girls dancing-ballet-classic-girls fly


At the front and centre of the the project is former Washington Ballet teacher Roudolf Kharatian’s world-renowned dance philosophy. He sees both ballet and Armenian identity as concepts that have diverse roots and influences, and through this project seeks to delve deep into each source to understand its impact. Indeed, his method focuses on meshing together different components of the American, European, and Russian approaches to dance. From America, he takes speed of movement and learning; from Europe, he takes precision and the broadening of movements beyond the cultural catalog of social gestures; and from Russia, he takes a respect for space and grandeur and a high athletic rigour. The synthesis of these three approaches creates an understanding of ballet that is uniquely disciplined and innovative.


profile picture-man-photo for CV-Azad Chichmanian                  

Azad Chichmanian


With this technique, he seeks to highlight Armenia’s most important characteristic: its position as a bridge connecting North and South, and East and West. Armenians have found themselves standing at a global crossroads, a place of trade for cultures, philosophies, and arts. Because of this, adaptability is at the very core of what it means to be Armenian. By pulling Armenia’s diaspora from all over the world and international artists towards the country, the centre will experience the greatest artistic achievements from all over the world. In this way, the centre will help develop new forms, ideas, and movements that can be shared with the world.


man-profile picture-Rudolf Kharatian

Rudolf Kharatian


By finding these connections between peoples, rituals, and dances, the Kharatian Centre for the Performing Arts seeks to promote the development of ballet. But more importantly, it also aims to further our understanding of how we, as people, are physically beholden to the world around us, and to unite the people who frequent it in this understanding. Within all of these concepts, it seeks to push Gyumri to the forefront of the new Armenia that is being built, and to help this new Armenia itself emerge onto the international scene.