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Honoring the memory of a loved one: Area dance academy to present ‘Priceless Soul’ at GCC

Tenie Avanessian
Tenie Avanessian, 18, of Glendale, rehearses a scene from “Priceless Soul, A Tribute to the Life of Albert Djanbazian” at Ajanbazian Dance Foundation in La Crescenta on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. The dance, which was choreographed by Anna Djanbazian for her brother Albert who succumbed to cancer, will be performed at Glendale Community College on Sunday, January 26th.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

When Anna Djanbazian lost her brother after his battle with colon cancer, she grieved the only way that seemed natural to her — through dance.

“As soon as it happened, I felt I needed to do something,” she said.

It took Djanbazian, who owns and directs the La Crescenta-based Djanbazian Dance Academy, nearly a year to create her latest ballet-theater piece, “Priceless Soul,“ as she faced the ups and downs of mourning her brother’s death.

“It was like reliving every moment that I had in my life,” she said. “It was really hard for me.”


PHOTOS: Djanbazian Dance Foundation rehearsal for upcoming dance tribute

But through Djanbazian’s process of building a story for her brother and creating dance sequences for the piece — which will be performed Sunday at Glendale Community College — she recognized that her heartache was shared by others with similar stories.

“I realized that it’s not only me who lost a loved one. There are so many precious souls in the four corners of the world that lost their loved one and that I should dedicate this night to all of them,” Djanbazian said.

Djanbazian’s academy is also donating a portion of ticket sales to the American Cancer Society to help find a cure.


Djanbazian is all too familiar with the devastating illness because she, too, has battled colon cancer.

While she was in remission from cancer, her brother’s illness returned.

Her piece starts with the struggle her 57-year-old brother, Albert Djanbazian, who was a graphic artist in Glendale, endured as he fought colon cancer for two years.

As he battled the illness, he continued working and made an effort to maintain high spirits by joking with others.

He eventually succumbed to his illness on Dec. 26, 2012.

His death is marked with grief in the piece as performers delve into Anna Djanbazian’s emotions over losing her brother.

The performers, she said, were not familiar with the struggle.

“I needed to go over every step and explain it to them and make them go through all of this life turbulence,” Djanbazian said.


The performance — which showcases live music, contemporary dance, video and poetry — ends with the display of 30 to 40 photographs of loved ones who have been affected by cancer.

Djanbazian wants the audience to “be aware that life is very short and enjoy it.”

As for Djanbazian’s health, she is still in remission.

“Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow?” she said. “Tomorrow is tomorrow. Today is today and I am going to live my today. For now, I am a survivor.”

What: Djanbazian Dance Academy presents “Priceless Soul”

Where: Glendale Community College Auditorium, 1500 N. Verdugo Road

When: 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26


Admission: Tickets are $35 and $45.

More info: For more information, visit or call (818) 248-4458.

Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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