By Meryl M.
Exclusive to the Times Kuwait
Morning people are generally the most cheerful and pleasant faces you come across, but meeting someone who remains cheerful no matter what time of the day, is something quite unusual. One such person is Teni Matian, the Iran-born, Armenian choreographer who is currently the Director of Dance at LAPA in LOYAC.
Teni began her journey as a young passionate dancer who moved to Armenia after her high school in Iran to pursue a dream career in dance. In Armenia she earned her masters in dance pedagogy, and then moved to the United Kingdom on a full scholarship to train in physical theatre and contemporary dance. Her passion to teach dance then led her to train and qualify as a registered teacher at the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) in UK.
She then returned to Armenia as a lecturer in dance at two major dance universities and eventually ventured to create her first contemporary dance course in the country. Following her marriage, and while at the peak of her dancer career in Armenia, she took a leap of faith and decided to move to Kuwait.
After a few months of looking out to find her own space here, she got introduced to LOYAC. She says that deciding to join LOYAC was the best decision in her life, as it was only in Kuwait she realized that her career as a dance trainer could be best fulfilled by providing the opportunity and platform for children interested in dance.
The Times Kuwait recently sat down for a chit-chat with Teni.
Tell us, how do you manage to be so cheerful throughout the day?
My extra boost and the reason my days are so cheerful is my son. I make sure I spend some quality time with him after I wake up and before I head to work. I then try my best to share this energy and cheer with everyone I meet across the day; starting from my building ‘hariss’, to my colleagues at work, I make sure to notice and pay full attention to every detail in the people I meet, even if it is only to greet them with a quick cheerful wave.
Could you enlighten us about LOYAC, and what exactly is LAPA?
LOYAC is our mother company, and LAPA, where I work, is the performing arts department that includes a dance, music, drama and fine-arts section. We undertake various national and international projects, and the genesis for most of our projects is our director Farah Al Saqqaf who is the heart and soul of LAPA.
We also do a lot of collaborative programs and classes with international artists and stars who work with us from time to time, to create some unique events that combine European flavor with the Middle-East culture. Our main goal is to encourage local talents and inspire them to take courage to create and use their God-given talents for the community.
Everyone who is interested in arts is always welcome to join us and all our classes and events are advertised on our Instagram page. We have classes in different dance genres, from hip hop to ballet, and training on various musical instruments and fine art. I invite artistic young readers of The Times to feel free to come by our place in Kuwait City and take the time to look around and be a part of the magic we create.
How is work at LAPA different?
Every day at LAPA is very different and this is what makes my work exciting. Throughout the day, my work rotates around taking dance classes for children and meetings in the evening to discuss on the different projects we have undertaken. Each dance class and each meeting is different, and sometimes many things can happen out of the blue that requires my immediate attention and quick decisions. I would like to emphasize here that none of this would be possible without the cooperation of my team. We work very closely with each other and share all our tasks, which makes the day flow very smoothly and joyfully.
One thing that you make sure you do during your day?
No matter how busy I am with my daily routine, I make it a point to call my mom every day. I want her to know that she is always in my heart and how special she is to me, and that this life and my career as a dancer was only possible because of her and the support and encouragement of my family. I have always had the love and support from both my dad and mom. When I was young it was my father who inspired me on the artistic journey. He was engineer with a love for theatre, so growing up our life was filled with performances and rehearsals. When it came to my dance training, they always accompanied me to the classes and performances, and encouraged me to always follow my dreams.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
It is the language, because my work involves a lot of communication with students and the people around me. If I knew Arabic it would be so much easier to communicate with them, because when you speak in the local language you can communicate better and clearly tell students what you are looking from them during a class. On a personal level, I would say I am a perfectionist and I love to make everything perfect.
What gave you the courage to make dance your sole career?
My Parents, my parents, my parents. Growing up they always supported my wishes and never told me I needed to find a more secure job. They were never against my wish to learn dance or pursue it as my only career. They gave me the courage and I would not have the peace I feel today without them.
How has Kuwait influenced you and your art?
You may not believe in fate, but sometimes life takes you on journey that can change your beliefs in a second, and if you only give it a chance it can it be magical. Taking that chance and coming to Kuwait has influenced me as a person and added another layer to me as a professional. If it was not for Kuwait and LAPA, I would have never found the meaning and true happiness that I feel today.
Your most memorable event in Kuwait?
It is always the memories I make from LOYAC; the most special one was when the entire team celebrated my son’s birth after I came back from my maternity leave. It was definitely a big surprise for me and no words can express the feeling I felt on that day.
How do you end your day?
I make sure my desk is clean and organized before I leave work and after I reach home I make sure to check up on my son and play with him for a while, and to give my mom a call. Before I go to bed I review my tasks for the next day and plan what needs to be done and note it down in my diary that I always carry with me.
Lastly, I always try to remember in my prayers everything I have in my life, my family and my career, and make sure I resolve any negative feelings I have with anyone. And, that’s why my mornings are the brightest.