It could be said that Armenians are known for being creative and talented in the arts. From weavers and artisans to musicians and composers, there are several Armenian names that come to mind. Dance has been an essential and culturally binding art form for Armenians for centuries, and Anna Pipoyan, a belly dancer based in New York, has given that tradition an update.
Originally from Yerevan, Pipoyan began dancing at a young age. Her parents were the initial influence on her, enrolling her in ballet classes at the age of six because she was an extremely active youngster. “My father was an artist and singer,” she told the Weekly. “I guess I’ve inherited it from my family.”
Pipoyan continued her study of classical ballet at the Russian School of Ballet in Yerevan until she was 17. Among her favorite styles was Armenian folk dance, which would play an important role in her future success.
After studying at the school for 11 years, Pipoyan made the transition to New York City. “My number one priority was to just dance,” she said, which she did in several Broadway shows. She admits that it was a slightly difficult transition from the methods she had studied for so long in Armenia. “I didn’t want to continue ballet because I wanted a different experience. I discovered belly dancing by accident,” she said. After taking a class with a friend, she was hooked. “It’s energetic, feminine, classical—everything that I wanted to experience at that time.” Her passion for this newfound style took over, and she slowly began devoting herself to the alternative style of dance.
As she began getting hired for her talents more often, Pipoyan made belly dancing her full-time profession. “When you love what you do it becomes infectious,” she said. “It becomes something meant to be when you have true love and passion for it.” This passion led Pipoyan to dance at several exciting venues, including her favorite, America’s Got Talent, a televised talent show hosted by celebrity judges. Pipoyan was contacted by the program and invited to participate. She traveled to Las Vegas and performed on stage in front of thousands of audience members.
“Sharon [Osbourne] said I was the best belly dancer she had ever seen in her life,” Pipoyan said. “I will never forget that experience.” Pipoyan has also had the pleasure of working with celebrities like Beyonce and Don Omar. “It’s exciting to work with that type of clientele, but my range is really big. From family functions to music videos.”
Aside from her whirlwind experiences as a belly dancer, Pipoyan also enjoys other types of dance and has started on some new personal ventures. “I dance flamenco and Russian gypsy dancing. Authentic dances like this interest me.” Pipoyan is currently working on an instructional DVD, which will be released at the end of August. She also teaches children’s dance classes and hopes to one day own her own international dance school.
“I’m very fortunate for what my talent has become,” she said.