Shortly after graduating from Rye High School in June, Kayla Love embarked on a two-week journey through Russia and Armenia with the Shushi Armenian Dance Ensemble.
By Melanie Cane
Shortly after graduating from Rye High School in June, Kayla Love embarked on a two-week journey through Russia and Armenia with the Shushi Armenian Dance Ensemble. Love, whose mother is of Armenian descent, has been dancing with Shushi since she was 7 years old. Since then, she has performed across the country, as well as in Armenia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Argentina, and Uruguay.
The trip to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Armenia was significant because Shushi presented a special program dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. They performed their dance “Remember” for the first time in Moscow.
Love explained, “It is a dance that sends the message to never forget and to recognize the atrocities committed by the Turkish government in 1915. It’s a very big deal to Armenians to do what we can to make sure the anniversary does not go unrecognized. The dance, song, and slide show caused the audience and the dancers to cry.”
“Every dance is unique and tells a story,” said Love. “Some are slow and graceful and others are lively and traditional. The dancers change costumes for each work.” For weeks before each of their five yearly performances, the dancers practice Friday night and Saturday mornings.
Love is immersed in her culture. She attended an Armenian pre-school and summer camp, and is a member of an Armenian church, where she volunteers. She has also volunteered building homes in Armenia. She wants people to know about her ancestral culture because “the population is so small and unknown due to the loss of over a million Armenians during the Genocide. I spread my culture through dance because I’m proud to be from an ethnicity so strong and unstoppable.”
At Rye High, Love was a featured dancer in “Pippin” and “South Pacific” as an underclassman, and was “The Rye Girl” in the Pep Rally. She plans to continue dancing with Shushi this fall when she begins her studies at Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University.