Our History

A focus of culture and Georgian immigrant life

In the 1960’s Victor Sirelson became a serious researcher, performer and instructor of ethnic dance and music with the Aman Folk Ensemble and the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology in Los Angeles. His specialty was the music and dances of the Balkan countries.
In 1996 he became involved with the study of Georgian dance and formed a collaboration with Merab Tsereteli, a former dancer with the Sukhishvili Ensemble in Georgia. In Victor’s home of Warwick, New York he and Merab formed an exercise class that attracted dozens of Warwick residents. When they introduced Georgian dance a group of women became seriously interested. Victor and Merab presented a lecture demonstration on Georgian dance and culture in the spring of 1997 to a local school.
Later in 1997 they were joined by Victor’s friend Alex Ritter, a dancer with the New York City Ballet and his colleague Deana McBrearty and began a serious class in Georgian dance. Victor came up with the name “Dancing Crane” from his memory of seeing a pair of cranes performing their beautiful courtship dance at the Bronx zoo. In October of 1997 the Dancing Crane Georgian Dance Theater gave its first full performance at the Warwick High School Theater. The company of 9 included only 1 Georgian at that time.
This first performance was a great success and the company became to perform at various Georgian events, including a reception at Columbia’s Harriman Institute organized by the Georgian Association and a performance at the Tbilisi Restaurant in Brooklyn.
In 1998 two other Georgian dancers – George Japaridze and Genadi Mskhiladze - came to New York and joined the company for the next performance at Manhattan’s Battery Park summer festival. Through Genadi and Gia word spread through the Georgian arts community and a master dancer Vladimer “Dato” Goderidze together with two musicians came to stay with Victor as the beginning of a new focus of Georgian arts in Warwick, NY.
In 1999 Merab left the company and Dato became the choreographer. Rehearsals were now accompanied by the musicians with “garmoni and doli” (accordion and drum) in the tradition of Georgian dance groups. The first performance with the newly constituted ensemble was at the Paramount Theater in Middletown, NY, joined by the renowned salamuri player Niko Nadirashvili and his Trio Saunje. This established the reputation of Dancing Crane as a serious company for the Georgian arts in the United States.
Victor received a grant through the Orange County Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts and decided that the company needed to incorporate. In December, 1999 Dancing Crane, Inc. was formally approved as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation in New York state.
Musicians joined the company: a virtuoso garmoni player, Givi Khosroshvili, doli player, Nodar Obolashvili and singer Dato Ambrosidze. Then Lexo Goderdzishvili came and started the Dancing Crane Music Ensemble. More Georgian professional singers and dancers joined Dancing Crane. The Dancing Crane Music Ensemble gave its first full performance as part of the Montgomery Chamber Music Series in Montgomery, New York in March of 2001.
During the next few years the company performed dance and music concerts throughout New York State and gave workshops and lecture demonstrations as its reputation grew. There were dozens of full-length concerts in Georgian dance and Georgian traditional songs and instrumental music as well as many workshops, classes and lecture demonstrations, with performances in theaters, libraries, schools, restaurants, hotels and for many private events. Dancing Crane began to receive major grants from the New York State Council on the Arts for the dance, music and apprentice programs of the company and from the National Endowment for the Arts for its children’s programs.
In 2007 the children’s classes “Pesvebi” organized by Dancing Crane dancer Shorena Barbakadze became a part of the Dancing Crane program.
In 2008, Victor’s wife Lia Bakhturidze Sirelson, an accomplished actress, playwright and director in the Georgian theater in Tbilisi, gathered together recently arrived theater artists Tsitsino Kapanadze, Khatuna Ioseliani and Ramaz Zurabashvilito form New York’s first and only Georgian Theater, the Georgian Theater of New York. Their first production was Lia’s adaptation of Otia Ioseliani’s classic drama “Shinaberebi” (Six Spinsters and One Man) which was performed at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in Manhattan. The company has been active since, with productions each year, including Lia’s “Sarke” as the first foreign language play in the Manhattan International Theater Festival (2011).
The focus of the company had by now shifted to Brooklyn, NY and was marked by the opening of our first Brooklyn studio in 2009. This was primarily a rehearsal space for the ensemble and the children’s group. In 2011 the company moved to a larger space at 6401 20th Avenue in Brooklyn and began an active program of children’s classes in Georgian dance, music, theater, language and culture as well as a Ballet School by Georgian ballerina Ana Gadelia, a short films production class and a TV production class “Rainbow” that has its work shown on Georgian TV in Tbilisi.
During these recent years with the new studio the organization has matured in a Georgian Cultural Center with more emphasis on education and the development of innovative programs that encompass several disciplines. The company has more than 50 professionals involved in the dance, music and theater productions and an increasing attendance of more than 80 children in the diverse school programs. Receptions for visiting Georgian artists and professionals are regular events at the studio
Dancing Crane activities are frequently featured in Georgian journals and TV and are increasingly prominent as part of the New York City arts scene. In 2012 Dancing Crane was one of 6 featured organizations in a NYC Media documentary “Arts Alive” highlighting the diverse cultures of Brooklyn. In January, 2014 Dancing Crane is featured by the Brooklyn Arts Council as the arts organization of the month.

Our Staff

  • Artistic and Gerneral Director: Victor Sirelson
  • Choreographer: Vladimer "Dato" Goderidze
  • Studio Director: Lika Bakhturidze Sirelson
  • Men's Choir Director: Davit Chkuaseli
  • Studio and General Manager: Tsutsa Kapanadze
  • Children's Georgian Dance Choreographers: Irina Khutsurauli and Goga Gelashvili
  • Music School Director: Tengiz Shautidze
  • Ballet School Director: Ani Gadelia
  • Theater Director: Lika Bakhturidze Sirelson

Be Part of Our Community

We are a growing community sharing a common interest in Georgian culture, immigrant life and the practice and enjoyment of the best of art and culture. If you would like to become involved or simply learn more, you are most welcome to visit, email, phone or write.

Contact details

We can converse in English, Georgian and Russian.
Phone: Victor: 914-522-3888; Lika: 845-642-4823; Tsutsa: 347-257-2741

Email: info@dancingcrane.org; vsirelson@gmail.com

Correspondence: 6401 20th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11204 and 9 Dekay Road, Warwick, NY 10990