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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). "It is where the dancers display their skill with sabres." The movement, especially its middle section, is based on Armenian folk music. According to Tigran Mansurian, it is a synthesis of an Armenian wedding dance music from Gyumri and a saxophone counterpoint from the United States. It is widely considered Khachaturian's most famous work.
In 1948 the "Sabre Dance" became a jukebox hit in the United States. Due to its popularity, a Newsweek article 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 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).
Films in which the "Sabre Dance" was used:
- 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)
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:
|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 (Nielsen Business Media): 29. 29 August 1953. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "2011–2012 Concerts for Young People: Aram Khachaturian (1903–1978) "Sabre Dance" from Gayane". Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 13 October 2013. "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 ..."
- Helper, Allegra; Wasatch, Juanita (16 April 2002). "Facets Model Assignment: "Sabre Dance"". Weber State University. Archived from the original on 8 March 2014. "Khachaturian's strongest technique in "Sabre Dance" is its pulsating rhythm. He also uses a fast tempo, repetitive theme, and a simple melody to express happiness and patriotism. Khachaturian uses rich orchestrations including brass and woodwind instruments along with percussion, which helps to express Armenian folk music."
- 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.
- 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 ..."
- Life (magazine), 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."
- Newsweek, 1948, Volume 31, 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.
- Retail Record Sales: Best-Selling Records by Classical Artists. Billboard. 10 April 1948. p. 39.
- 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.
- Hoffman, Frank, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, Volume 1: A-L. New York: Routledge. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-203-48427-2.
- "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."
- "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.
- Faris, Jocelyn (1994). Ginger Rogers: A Bio-bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-313-29177-7.
- Birnbaum, Larry (2013). Before Elvis: The Prehistory of Rock 'n' Roll. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-8108-8638-4.
- Tyler, Don (2008). Music of the Postwar Era. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-313-34191-5.
- 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.
- Richie Unterberger. "Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 3: Space Capades". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014.
- "Jerry Murad's Harmonicats – Peg O' My Heart". Discogs. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- 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.
- Spontaneous Combustion Sabre Dance Composed by Dave Edmunds
- "Ekseption – Bingo". Discogs. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "The Boys To Hell with the Boys". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014.
- covered it during 1979 live shows, a recording appears on the two disc 2006 reissue of their eponymous debut album audio
- "The Sabre Dance - Serge Camps". YouTube. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014.
- "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.
- "Aram Khachaturyan". IMDb. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- "The Work Song Nanocluster". IMDb.
- Eddie Robson (2003). Coen Brothers. London: Virgin Books. pp. 139–142. ISBN 1-57488-273-2.
- "(article)". Amusement Business 83 (1) (Billboard Publications). 1971. "The Buffalo Sabres have a new old wrinkle. Miss Sandae Bafo, a smooth lass on the blades entertains between periods with her special rendition of Khachaturian's fiery Sabre Dance."
- 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 ..."
- Debi Thomas 1986 Worlds EX
- Scott Hamilton – 1994 Canadian Pro SP Sabre Dance
- Michelle Kwan – 1994 NationsBank U.S. Olympic Festival on Ice
- "Johnny Weir". Ice Network. Archived from the original on 6 May 2012.
- 2000 Euros SP Plushenko – Sabre Dance
- "Aliona SAVCHENKO / Stanislav MOROZOV: 2001/2002". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 21 October 2002.
- "Takahiko Kozuka". Ice Network. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- "Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Stanislav MOROZOV: 2004/2005". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 9 March 2005.
- "Daisuke TAKAHASHI: 2004/2005". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 5 December 2004.
- Daisuke Takahashi-2004 Eric Bompard SP
- "Takahito MURA: 2005/2006". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 16 May 2006.
- "Adeline CANAC / Maximin COIA: 2006/2007". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 30 April 2007.
- "Julia LIPNITSKAIA: 2012/2013". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012.
- Julia Lipnitskaia – 2013 World Junior Championships – SP
- "Julia Lipnitskaia (Rusia). "Sabre Dance", A Khatchaturian". 20 January 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
- Article with several recordings, NPR
- "Sabre Dance" on YouTube, Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Seiji Ozawa