UPDATED 8/9/2007




For immediate release:
June 8, 2007
Contact: Susan Shaberman

For one powerful night only four women dancers and choreographers present An Intimate Evening of Dance Theater at the Contemporary Arts Forum

· An Intimate Evening of Dance Theater
· Features acclaimed international artist Aida Amirkhanian and locally renowned dancer and choreographer Susan Shaberman
· Thrilling solo and duet work including three premieres
· Saturday, June 30, 8 pm / Contemporary Arts Forum
· Tickets : (805) 963-0761 (Lobero box office) Information : (805) 886-9112

Acclaimed multidisciplinary company Interplay presents An Intimate Evening of Dance Theater, an evening of emotionally transporting, breath-taking work, on Saturday, June 30 at 8 pm at the Contemporary Arts Forum, upstairs at Paseo Nuevo. Performers include acclaimed international artist Aida Amirkhanian, locally renowned dancer and choreographer Susan Shaberman, Los Angeles area dance teacher and performer Diana Cummins, and Horton Award winning graduate of the Cal State Long Beach dance program Narineh Ghazarians. These four incredibly talented dancers and choreographers will perform solo and duet work – including three premieres – set to music by Hugo Diaz, Marlene Dietrich, Tino Rossi, Poulanc, and Bach.

This wide-ranging evening of passionate dance will showcase the range this art can encompass. Works will capture the fiery emotions of the tango, attest to the beauty humankind can make even amidst the gross and averse, and celebrate the power of dance itself. The piece “Persevere,” choreographed and performed by Amirkhanian and set to Yo-Yo Ma’s rendition of two of Bach’s cello suites was made in response to a Rumi poem that includes the lines:

Dance when you are broken open
Dance if you’ve torn the bondage off
Dance in the middle of the fighting
Dance when you are perfectly free

Aida Amirkhanian is a dance choreographer, performer, and teacher, as well as a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher. She graduated from the Mudra Performing Arts School under the direction of Maurice Bejart, and then worked and toured with his company for several years. Aida then moved to Australia where she worked with many dance and theater companies in a variety of capacities for nearly 17 years. She now resides in Los Angeles, where she has performed in several Kaleidoscope Dance Festivals, Fountain Theater’s Festivals of Solos and Duets, and been a featured guest in numerous other productions. In 2004 she was nominated for the Horton Award for the best solo dancer. She has previously performed in Santa Barbara in Beth Burleson’s concerts in the ’90s and this past spring on the Ballet Santa Barbara’s production at Center Stage in March. Amirkhanian’s work has recently been seen in New York, Boulder, CO, and for the fourth time has been featured in a collaborative concert with the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia in the fall of ’06. Larry Ruffell of the Canberra Times in Australia writes, “Aida is an authoritative and irresistible performer who takes you in her arms and carries you away with her.”

Susan Shaberman has been hooked on modern dance since she was cast as the matador in Ferdinand the Bull when she was 8 years old. After raising three children, she continued her dance training at the University of California, and went on to earn a Masters Degree from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. She has studied extensively in the techniques of Graham, Cunningham, Limon, and Hawkins. In 1995 she formed an interdisciplinary company Interplay and became known for her trigger pieces, using electronic drum triggers to create instantaneous sound accompaniments, including musical tones, poetry, and sampled sounds, for her movement. Shaberman’s work has been seen on both local and international (Avignon, Mexico, and Edinburgh) stages. Most recently she has performed her work in New York and Boulder, CO.

Choreographer/performer Diana Cummins has worked as both a solo artist and company member of a Los Angeles physical theatre ensemble. She trained at the Martha Graham School and with Lynn Simonson in New York, with Ron Brown and Charles Edmondson in Los Angeles, and holds an MA in Dance from UCLA. Currently, she has been working with multi-generational groups, creating collaborative dance theatre projects to empower and connect diverse communities.

Narineh Ghazarians was born in Sydney, Australia and began dancing at the age of seven. She received her training in ballet, modern, and folk dance from the Djanbazian Dance Academy. She graduated from California State University of Long Beach, where she pursued a degree in dance. Ghazarians is also the recipient of the 2004 Lester Horton Award.

Tickets are $20. For information and tickets call (805) 963-0761 or see more information on the web at

Editors and Press: For information or photos, call Susan Shaberman at 805.886.9112

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Who: Interplay, Santa Barbara, CA

What: ‘You go to my Head… and my Heart’ Created and performed by Aida Amirkhanian and Susan Shaberman

When: Opening Monday, 8/21, at 5:30 pm
Continuing Tue, 8/22, 8:30; Wed, 8/23, 4 pm; Fri, 8/25, 4 pm; Sat, 8/26, 7 pm; Sun, 8/27, 5 pm

Where: Carsen Theatre, The Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut, Boulder CO

Why: Interplay (Santa Barbara) will present ‘You go to my Head… and my Heart,’ a dance/theater show created and performed by two seasoned international performers, as part of the 12 day Boulder International Fringe Festival, August 17 through 28, 2006.

‘You go to my Head… and my Heart’ plays Monday, August 21, at 5:30 pm; Tue, 8/22, 8:30; Wed, 8/23, 4 pm; Fri, 8/25, 4 pm; Sat, 8/26, 7 pm; Sun, 8/27, 5 pm, at the Carsen Theatre at The Dairy Center for the Arts.

“Aida Amirkhanian is an exceptional performer who stunned with her performance and challenges with her views… she sidles surreptitiously into our hearts, then grabs and manipulates our emotions like a master juggler.”

Larry Ruffell, Canberra Times, Australia

“Susan Shaberman...weaves a hilariously apt image of awkwardness with good intentions, her lucid green eyes shining beneath a shock of gray hair.”

Elizabeth Schyzer, Santa Barbara Independent

How Much: Tickets are $15 general, $10 students and seniors
Tickets are available at the door. Advance tickets are available through Boulder Fringe Website




Santa Barbara, July 5, 2007


An Intimate Evening of Dance Theater, presented by Susan Shaberman. At the Contemporary Arts Forum, Saturday, June 30.

Intimate was the word used to describe the evening's program of performances by dancers Aida Amirkhanian, Susan Shaberman, Diana Cummins, and Narineh Ghazarians, and musician Nicole McKenzie. And intimate it was, even though the group attending the dance theater installation at the Contemporary Arts Forum was larger than the organizers expected; extra folding chairs had to be brought out to accommodate everyone. Even with enough chairs, the performances were worth standing up for - particularly since standing provided the right vantage point to see the four dancers make full use of the space: sometimes standing, sometimes seated, and sometimes partnering with the floor.

The selection of short dances choreographed by Amirkhanian, Shaberman, and Ghazarians began and ended with pieces that were flirtatious and coquettish, particularly when Amirkhanian and Shaberman shared the stage. In between these playful frames, the emotions expressed ranged from pain and pathos to triumph, joy, and love. The dancers themselves were the most enjoyable element of the evening, particlarly Amirkhanian and Shaberman. Their facial expressions and graceful control of their bodies proved that as dancers hone their craft during decades of practices and performances, they reveal through movement deeper and deeper layers of meaning.

Amirkhanian partnered Ghazarians in "Red Sun,"a dance tinged with red, both in costume selection and in the tone and feeling throughout the piece. The contrast of the two bodies spinning was energetic, light, and inspiring. In "Persevere," Amirkhanian danced alone. The piece was her own choreography; set to Bach, it included moments of imploring, writhing on the earth, and an ending where her final gesture - her arms outstretched and triumphant - suggested hope.

When Shaberman danced "Vidit Suum," also choreographed by Amirkhanian, her eyes, smile, and facial expressions danced as well, ranging from the pained to the joyous, her features softening as her gestures expanded. In "Diana's Waltz,"Diana Cummins inhabited Amirkhanian's choreography with poignant sensuality and grace. In each part of the evening Nicole McKenzie danced with her bow, playing dance-inspired pieces by Piazzolla and Josef Gazsi.

In the evening's final piece, "You Go to My Head,"Amirkhanian winked suggestively at the audience before she and Shaberman began coaxing audience members to partner with them and with each other, blurring the barrier between audience and performer - a fitting finale to an intimate evening.

Felicia M. Tomasko, the Independent

Santa Barbara, July 5, 2007


The white walls and open spaces of Santa Barbara's Contemporary Arts Forum were the venue for an up-close and charming performance of contemporary dance this week. Billed as "An Intimate Evening of Dance Theater," the performance featured dances and choreography by Aida Amirkhanian, Susan Shaberman, Diana Cummins and Narineh Ghazarians.
The music was as exotic and artistic as the dance, and included a prelude by J.S.Bach, an evocative tango etude by Piazolla and the sitar strings of Anousha Shankar. Aida and Susan led off with "It Is What It Is."
In the intimate space the dancers used small gestures, facial expressions and pantomine to create a Chaplinesque comedy.
"Diana's Waltz" was danced to Celtic music by Diana Cummins. Her dance worked on many levels, and was especially strong low on the floor. "Apres une Reve" (After a Dream) by Narineh had the feeling one has when awakening from a dream. The dance was one of spellbinding beauty, and was outstanding in it's dramatic power..
For "Tango Etude #3" Nicole McKenzie, a lovely violinist, took center stage and played the exciting tango music with gorgeous musicallity. "Vidit Suum" (She Saw) was acted as well as danced by Susan, in a scene that resembled a Greek tragedy.
"Persevere," choreographed and danced by Aida, set her on a pedestal, like a living statue. The strength and balance she displayed showed that the dancer's body is indeed her instrument, and never more truly than here. Narineh and Aida combined for a marvelous duet in "Red Sun," an ecstatic vision of the Silk Road and beyond. There was a great connection between the dancers, supported with dynamic and powerful gestures..
Nicole McKenzie returned for more of her luscious violin music, and the evening ended with "You Go to My Head," a casual comedy by Susan and Aida with supurb pantomime and great legs. As a dance venue the Contemporary Arts Forum had a warm feeling, like being on the stage with the dancers. The trade-off was the fact that the absence of a raised stage limited the sight lines for some members of the audience. All-in-all it would be good to see more dance concerts like this at CAF. The concert was presented by Interplay. For more information on their performances visit

By Paul Foster Froemming, Daily Sound Theater Critic

Santa Barbara, July 4, 2007

DANCE REVIEW: Emotions charged in dance, music

The delightful and, yes, intimate evening of dance theater presented Saturday at the Contemporary Arts Forum overcame its less-than-ideal setting to succeed as a wonderfully quirky and heartfelt artistic endeavor.
The main disadvantage was the venue's flat seating, level with the performance space, which made it difficult for those in the back rows to see the dancers. For the dancers, the disadvantage was the floor -- concrete -- which is so tough on their feet and bodies.
But on the other hand, there were the shadows. Cast on the stark white wall that served as a backdrop, the shadows loomed, stretched, emphasized and redoubled the dancers' movement, adding a magical element to the visual presentation and almost making up for the lack of line of sight of the floor.
Presented by Interplay and co-sponsored by SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre, the evening featured four dancers and violinist Nicole McKenzie, whose music many dances were set to.
Susan Shaberman and Aida Amirkhanian opened the show with "It Is What It Is," a piece they choreographed with a funny foot dance and amusing facial expressions, partly set to words spoken by the late Edith Piaf. A conflict between French and English translations came into play, but the dancers' wit and poise blended well.
Narineh Ghazarians performed a solo she choreographed that was in turn languid and animated. Titled "Après une R0x90ve" ("After a Dream"), it conveyed the dancer's attempt to distinguish reality from her dreams, upon waking.
Aside from these two, all other dances in the show were choreographed by Ms. Amirkhanian. In another piece, Diana Cummins danced a wonderfully sweeping waltz-style solo to mournful Celtic fiddle music.
In a solo titled "Persevere," Ms. Amirkhanian's expressive face and lithe body were showcased beautifully. Appearing tortured but in control, she made gestures of plucking at her chest, as if trying to pull it open, and turning to look over her shoulder at the audience with one hand on her forehead and the other over her mouth. Though disarming, in the hands of such a self-possessed performer, the effect was not disturbing. The highlight of the evening was the opening of the second half: "Red Sun," a duet with Ms. Amirkhanian and Ms. Ghazarians. First, Ms. Ghazarians entered, wearing a red dress and a thick braided garland of red and gold around her neck. She then removed it, reverently placing it on the floor, and began to dance alone to rich, percussive music from Anoushka Shankar and Andrew Purdum. Soon, Ms. Amirkhanian joined her, in matching dress and garland, and caught Ms. Ghazarians mid-twirl, bringing her into a trance-like state. Putting her own garland on Ms. Ghazarians and laying her down, Ms. Amirkhanian danced over her, as if performing magic. Ms. Ghazarians then rose to her feet and they danced together, with jubilant handclaps punctuating the rhythm. Then, energy depleted, Ms. Ghazarians replaced a garland around her neck and slowly exited, head down. Glancing over her shoulder to where they had just danced, Ms. Amirkhanian followed her offstage. The dancers looked as if they could be mother and daughter. Their shadows on the wall added a great dimension to the piece, emphasizing a divine, otherworldly feel.
Ms. Amirkhanian and Ms. Shaberman, dressed in 1930s-era elegance, closed the evening with a three-part mèlange of music from Marlene Dietrich and Tino Rossi. In a sweet final moment, they were joined onstage by Ms. Ghazarians and Ms. Cummins, and four invited audience members who joined them in dance.
The evening was like finding a rare flower growing through a crack in the pavement -- its unexpectedness made its beauty all the more appreciated.


Santa Barbara, March 15, 2007.


Fandango and other Fantasies, presented by Ballet Santa Barbara. At Center Stage Theater. Tuesday, March 6.

...violinist Nicole McKenzie-a Santa Barbara native with impressive musical credentials ... made a splash in Carlos Fittante's show-opening duet, "Fandango Fantasy," in which she played not only her violin but also the object of Fittante's desire, dressed in a black corset and with handcuffs dangling from her studded belt.

If that raised a few eyebrows, [Aida]Amirkhanian's solo, "Persevere," drew gasps. She began curled and folded against a low stool, her red dress folded around her in heavy pleats. As Bach's rousing cello suites soared to fill the room, Amirkhanian unfurled, writhed, fell, and finally lay upside down on her stool, gazing at the audience with wide eyes, her skinny legs turned inward from the hips and pointing to the sky. "Persevere" was a far cry from the standard pas de deux, yet within the dancer's struggle there was a lyricism and a classicism that exemplifies what is best in the art of ballet.
The climax of the program was Susan Shaberman's "Remember Me (Silent Voices)," a haunting and captivating group work set to a Benjamin Lees piano trio performed live. The dancers entered arm-in-arm in grey 1940s-style dresses and suits. They gathered together as if posing for a group portrait, then scattered and collapsed like victims. Amirkhanian played The Witness, a figure in black who appeared at key moments, her movement a commentary on the action. In one scene, she walked slowly across the stage on a diagonal, unfazed by dancers, now in underclothes, whipping past her and breathing heavily as they flung themselves through space. During the post-show discussion, Amirkhanian's comments reflected her performance. "It's important to draw people into the very present moment," she said, "and keep them there."

Elizabeth Schwyzer, The Independent

Boulder, CO, August, 2006

This is not a review, per se, but our performance of You Go to my Head in Boulder, Colorado, gets updated "rating" by viewers.




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Aida Amirkhanian

Susan Shaberman

Aida Amirkhanian and Susan Shaberman in You Go To My Head