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The "Sabre Dance" (Armenian: Սուսերով պար Suserov par; Russian: Танец с саблями Tanets s sablyami) is a movement in the final act of Aram Khachaturian's ballet Gayane (1942), "where the dancers display their skill with sabres." It is Khachaturian's best known and most recognizable work. Its middle section is based on an Armenian folk song. According to Tigran Mansurian, it is a synthesis of an Armenian wedding dance tune from Gyumri tied in a saxophone counterpoint "that seems to come straight from America."
In 1948 the "Sabre Dance" became a jukebox hit in the United States. Due to its popularity, Newsweek suggested that 1948 could be called "Khachaturian Year in the United States." In that year, three versions of the "Sabre Dance" (one played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Artur Rodziński; another one by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Efrem Kurtz; and by Oscar Levant) reached number one in the Billboard Best-Selling Records by Classical Artists. These three versions were included in the Year's Top Selling Classical Artists by Billboard in 1948. The "Sabre Dance" became the first million-selling record of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. According to the Current Biography Yearbook, it was Levant's performance that "received popular attention."
The piece "has entered the realm of popular music as one of the 20th century's signature pieces." It was further made popular by covers by pop artists, first in the US and later in other countries, such as the UK and Germany. Its use in a wide range of films and TV series over the decades have significantly contributed to its renown. The "Sabre Dance" has also been used by a number of figure skaters. Tom Huizenga of NPR describes it as "one of the catchiest, most familiar—perhaps most maddening—tunes to come out of the 20th century." Billboard magazine calls it "a piece that's known to every pops orchestra in existence."
In popular culture
The "Sabre Dance" has been used in numerous films, animated films, TV series, video games and commercials over the years. The piece's popular familiarity has been enhanced by its traditional use as accompaniment by travelling circuses and on television variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show when novelty acts such as plate spinners appeared.
Some notable TV shows that have used it include The Jack Benny Program (1961), A Piano in the House from The Twilight Zone (1962), The Onedin Line (1971 and 1972), The Benny Hill Show (1985), The Simpsons (1991–2011), Two and a Half Men (2004), What's New, Scooby-Doo? (2004), "Peterotica" episode of Family Guy (2006), SpongeBob SquarePants (2007), The Big Bang Theory (2009).
On June 6, 2013 on the 110th anniversary of Khachaturian’s birthday a modern take of the Sabre Dance—Sabre Dance on the Street—was performed at Yerevan Cascade by Barekamutyun dance ensemble and Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra.
Films in which the "Sabre Dance" was used, include The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), One, Two, Three (1961), The System (1964), Amarcord (1973), Nu, pogodi! 6th episode "Countryside" (1973), Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986), Punchline (1988), Radioland Murders (1994), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Don't Drink the Water (1994), I Married a Strange Person! (1997), Vegas Vacation (1997), A Simple Wish (1997), Blues Brothers 2000 (1998), Kung Fu Hustle (2004), Scoop (2006), Sicko (2007), Ghost Town (2008), Witless Protection (2008), Le Concert (2009), Pájaros de papel (2010), Sabre Dance (2015).
The National Hockey League team Buffalo Sabres have used the piece as a theme song since the team was established in 1970. After a hiatus, the "Sabre Dance" was again made their theme song in 2011.
In 2010–13, the "Sabre Dance" became popular in the city of Donetsk, Ukraine, because it was played in Donbass Arena, the venue of FC Shakhtar Donetsk, whenever the Armenian football player Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a goal.
The "Sabre Dance" has been used by numerous figure skaters, including:
|United States||1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships|
|1986–88||Debi Thomas||United States|
|1994||Scott Hamilton||United States|
|1993–94||Michelle Kwan||United States||short program|
|1998–99||Johnny Weir||United States||short program|
|1999–00||Evgeni Plushenko||Russia||short program|
|2001–02||Takahiko Kozuka||Japan||short program|
|2004–05||Daisuke Takahashi||Japan||short program|
|2005–06||Takahito Mura||Japan||short program|
|2007–08||Ryuju Hino||Japan||short program|
|2012–13||Julia Lipnitskaia||Russia||short program|
- "Classical Selections of EP Singles ...". Billboard. August 29, 1953. p. 29.
- "2011–2012 Concerts for Young People: Aram Khachaturian (1903–1978) "Sabre Dance" from Gayane". Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. p. 4. "The "Sabre Dance" is in the final act. It is where the dancers display their skill with sabres. Its middle section is based on an Armenian folk song ..."
- Frolova-Walker, Marina (Summer 1998). ""National in Form, Socialist in Content": Musical Nation-Building in the Soviet Republics". Journal of the American Musicological Society (University of California Press on behalf of the American Musicological Society) 51 (2): 362. doi:10.2307/831980. "... Khachaturian's most popular piece, the Sabre Dance ..."
- Robinson, Harlow (2013). "The Caucasian Connection: National Identity in the Ballets of Aram Khachaturian". In Kanet, Roger E.. Identities, Nations and Politics After Communism. Routledge. p. 23. ISBN 9781317968665. "...particularly the "Sabre Dance," which became the single most recognized piece of Khachaturian..."
- "Sabre Dance from Gayane". Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra. Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. "The well-known “Sabre Dance” is one of these: an aggressive Armenian war-dance with flashing sabres brandished throughout. The outer sections are based upon a wild ostinato figure punctuated by trombone smears. There is a brief moment of contrast at the center, with a quotation of an Armenian folk song."
- In the documentary Khachaturian (2003, directed by Peter Rosen), Tigran Mansurian states: "What an interesting synthesis! He's taken a melody from Gyumri, an Armenian wedding dance tune ... and he's tied in a saxophone counterpoint that seems to come straight from America. The relationship between the two seems so organic, so interesting!" The film is available online here. Mansurian appears at around 33:00.
- "Soviets throw book at Beria". Life (New York). December 28, 1957. p. 17. "Meanwhile a musical revolt was stirred up in Russia by Aram Khachaturian, one of the U.S.S.R.'s leading composers, who wrote the U.S. juke box favorite of 1948, Sabre Dance."
- Taruskin, Richard (2009). Music in the Late Twentieth Century: The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-19-979600-7. "Khachaturian .. famous in the West for some colorful concertos and a ballet suite containing a rousing "Sabre Dance" that became a jukebox hit."
- Petrak, Albert M., ed. (1985). "Khachaturian, Aram Ilyich". David Mason Greene's Biographical Encyclopedia of Composers (1st ed.). Garden City, New York: Reproducing Piano Roll Foundation. pp. 1329–30. ISBN 978-0-385-14278-6. "Meanwhile its flashy "Sabre Dance" had conquered the U.S.S.R.'s new American allies and at one time was a standard on juke-boxes."
- "Music". Newsweek 31 (New York). 1948. p. 72. "...the music agenda in this country shows plenty to indicate that 1948 may be Khachaturian Year in the United States."
- Retail Record Sales: Best-Selling Records by Classical Artists. Billboard. 10 April 1948. p. 30.
- Retail Record Sales: Best-Selling Records by Classical Artists. Billboard. 26 June 1948. p. 27.
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- Retail Record Sales: Best-Selling Records by Classical Artists. Billboard. 15 May 1948. p. 25.
- The Year's Top Selling Classical Artists Over Retail Counters. Billboard. 1 January 1949. p. 19.
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- "Khachaturian, Aram". Current Biography Yearbook (New York: H. W. Wilson Company) 9: 345. 1949. "The music is available on records, however, and as a result of its performance by Oscar Levant, the "Sabre Dance," a part of the suite, has received popular attention. Played in four-quarter rather than the three-quarter time in which it was written, "Sabre Dance" is "a juke-box sensation"; an adaptation, "Sabre Dance Boogie," has also been introduced."
- Adalian, Rouben Paul (2010). Historical Dictionary of Armenia. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 381. ISBN 978-0-8108-7450-3. "As for the Sabre Dance from Gayane, it has entered the realm of popular music as one of the 20th century's signature pieces."
- Staines, Joe (2010). The Rough Guide to Classical Music. Penguin. ISBN 9781405383219. "Filled with a sparkling array of folk-inspired tunes, its most famous episode, the manic “Sabre Dance”, has had a life of its own, even materializing as a pop single."
- "Khachaturian: "Sabre Dance" from Gayaneh". University of North Georgia Department of Music. 15 October 2013. Archived from the original on 13 October 2013. ""The Sabre Dance" from the ballet suite Gayne [GUY-nuh] by Aram Khachaturian is by far this 20th Century Armenian composer's most famous work. The "Sabre Dance" has been used in numerous films, animated films, TV series, video games and commercials over the years."
- Huizenga, Tom (5 June 2003). "The 'Sabre Dance' Man". NPR. Archived from the original on 8 March 2014.
- "Casey At The Bat". Billboard: p. 103. 15 September 2007.
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- Billboard: 28. 27 March 1948.
- Nimmo, H. Arlo (2004). The Andrews Sisters: A Biography and Career Record. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 425. ISBN 978-0-7864-1731-5.
- Sforza, John. Swing It! : The Andrews Sisters Story. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-8131-9099-0.
- "Liberace Plays the Saber Dance". EVTV1. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014.
- "Georges Cziffra: Ses Enregistrements Studio, 1956–1986 Danse du Sabre (after Khatchaturian's Gayaneh), for piano". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
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- Takeshi Terauchi & Bunnys – Sabre Dance
- Prown, Pete; Newquist, H. P. (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-7935-4042-6.
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- covered it during 1979 live shows, a recording appears on the two disc 2006 reissue of their eponymous debut album audio
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- "Nina Hagen – In Ekstasy". Discogs. Retrieved 8 April 2014. "The Lord's Prayer Written By [Inserts From Sabre Dance] – Aram Khatchaturian"
- Valdivia, Victor W. "U.K. Subs Killing Time". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014.
- "Toy Dolls – Wakey Wakey!". Discogs. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- Mekong Delta-Sabre Dance
- "James Galway Dances for Flute". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- "Budapest Gypsy Orchestra The Budapest Gypsy Orchestra". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
- "Musical Mayhem and The Black Fire Concerto". Black Gate. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014. "Aram Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance" in the midst of "Sodom and Gomorrah" from their way underrated album Death Row."
- "Master's Hammer – Šlágry". Discogs. Retrieved 8 April 2014. "Šavlový Tanec Written-By – Aram Chačaturjan*, Master's Hammer"
- "Skyclad – Irrational Anthems". Discogs. Retrieved 8 April 2014. "Sabre Dance Arranged By [Deranged By] – G. English* Composed By – A. Khachaturian*"
- "Vanessa-Mae Choreography". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
- Loftus, Johnny. "Bond Classified". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014. ""Highly Strung," for example, tries to marry Khachaturian's manic Sabre Dance to spy movie guitar and chattering electronics, the result being more garishly cartoonish than interpretive."
- "Tony Levin – Resonator". Discogs. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- "Wolfgang's Big Night Out Sabre Dance, for electric guitar & jazz ensemble (after Khachaturian)". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 9 April 2014.
- "André Rieu in Wonderland:Synopsis". MSN Entertainment. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014.
- "Sabre Dance by Les Fradkin". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "Jelonek "Revenge"" (in Polish). Rock Magazyn. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
- "Richard Galliano & Cadence Ensemble (Aram Khachaturian - Sabre Dance)". 14 January 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
- "Ռիշար Գալիանոյի համերգը` մարտի 5-ին [Richard Galliano's concert on March 5]" (in Armenian). Public Radio of Armenia. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2014. "Ռիշար Գալիանոն ասում է, որ մեծ հաճույքով նվագում է Արամ Խաչատրյանի «Սուսերով պարը»,"
- "Aram Khachaturyan". IMDb. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
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- Eddie Robson (2003). Coen Brothers. London: Virgin Books. pp. 139–142. ISBN 1-57488-273-2.
- Maiorana, Sal (2012). 100 Things Sabres Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die. Triumph Books. p. 22. ISBN 9781623680152.
- Dunford, Jen; Bellas, Chrisanne (11 March 2011). "Opening the suggestion box". sabres.nhl.com. Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. "This signature song is still typically heard at various times during Sabres games, but many fans suggested a return to the tradition of playing the “Sabre Dance” when the team takes the ice. Beginning Sunday when the Sabres host the Senators, the song will be played when the team takes the ice prior to the second and third periods."
- Vogl, John (11 March 2011). "Sabres putting a fan imprint on arena". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 11 September 2014. "Two topics generated significant chatter: music and the team logo. The Sabres will change the tune for their television opening, going from the Scorpions' "Hurricane 2000" to old franchise favorite "Sabre Dance," performed by violinist Vanessa Mae."
- Wilson, Jonathan (22 October 2012). "Henrik Mkhitaryan orchestrates Shakhtar Donetsk's great leap forward". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. "Aram Khachaturian's Sabre Dance, the Armenian war dance played each time Mkhitaryan scores, may have become the most popular tune at the Donbass Arena this season ..."
- Ishkhanyan, Hovhannes (23 October 2012). "Henrik Mkhitaryan orchestrates Shakhtar Donetsk’s great leap forward". Aravot. "Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, the Armenian war dance played each time Mkhitaryan scores, may have become the most popular tune at the Donbass Arena this season..."
- Wise, Brian (7 February 2014). "Anna Netrebko Performs at the Olympics Opening Ceremony". New York: WQXR-FM. Retrieved 28 August 2014. "...a snippet of Khachaturian’s Saber Dance as Soviet-era cars whizzed around..."
- "Սոչի-2014. Առնո Բաբաջանյանի եւ Արամ Խաչատրյանի անմահ երաժշտությունը՝ բացման արարողությանը [Sochi 2014: Arno Babajanian's and Aram Khachaturian's music at the opening ceremony]". sport.news.am (in Armenian). 7 February 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014. "Հնչեցին հատվածներ Բաբաջանյանի «Աշխարհի լավագույն քաղաքը» երգից եւ Խաչատրյանի «Սուսերով պարից»:"
- "National Figure Skating Championships : Adair and Roca Lead All the Way and Dance to a Title". Los Angeles Times. 8 February 1986. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
- Debi Thomas 1986 Worlds EX
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- 2000 Euros SP Plushenko – Sabre Dance
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