Dear Friends,

The end of my school semester is approaching and that means that I have to wrap up things for now. Well, at least for the month of December, because January sounds like a great time for me to start blogging again.

I have come a long way with this blog; I have seen and learned a whole lot; I have practiced, created, and enjoyed; and most importantly I have met such wonderful, young people, who believe that “to live is to dance and to dance is to live.” I want to thank every single one of them for their time, patience, enthusiasm, and trust. I couldn’t have done this alone! They all are a true INSPIRATION!

hip hop dancer wallpaper posters

There are so many things I have learned since the beginning of my journey that I want to share with you. The technical practices include: working with tweeter, make a storify, recording audio interviews, recording videos, editing or combining sources from different media in one, doing voice overs, and more. Some of these cost me a whole lot of trouble until I figured out how to use them properly. However, now I feel more comfortable using all that new technology, I feel confident when I am editing and I feel accomplished with most of the work I have completed.

The more personal thoughts and ideas that blogging has passed on to me I certainly owe to the people who contributed to my writing:

Radina Tabakova taught me what show dance is. “Its purpose is to “entertain and positively affect the audience,” she said. It’s when a dancer takes the role of being someone else; be it a fairy tale character, a historic one or somebody from the movies.

Nevena Stankova  showed me how loving, devoted, and motivated one can be, when he or she is doing what he or she truly loves. When I asked her what motivates her, Nevena said,

I don’t know… Maybe I just love my job and usually it’s very rare that a person likes his or her job so much and I love it. I love the children and I am something like a second mother for them. They keep me going; they give me the power to go on.

In addition, her love for dancing is so strong that she sometimes has dreams about her choreographies. Now that seems like something incredible and extraordinary to me. I love it!

Boryana Kaisheva explained to me so much about the experience that salsa dancing has to offer. For example, she said,

You meet different kinds of people, because you go to salsa clubs not only to dance, but also to meet people. For example, different people are dancing, like doctors, like school teacher. It’s very interesting because you get to know people from different fields, not only your friends that are your age, but also people that are older.

Aleksandar Ivanov talked to me about the difference between salsa, merengue, and bachata. I did further research on the three styles and found out even more. What really stood out for me was that even though he suffered a severe injury, he could not stop thinking about dancing and was miserable without it. Alex said,

Not being able to dance does upset me quite a lot. And even though it is temporary and I know that, I miss it every day. This is the longest I have gone without dancing.

The girls from formation “Hope” taught me that by working together for a long time they feel like they are a part of one big family. They have fun together, mutual goals, and get their motivation from each other, because there is nothing better than being encouraged by those who you feel the closest to. Hrisi, one of the members said,

Hope makes me feel like I am part of something big, something really awesome, and fun… something that makes people happy and makes me even happier. It makes me feel like I am part of one big, amazing, and loving group. I feel active and valued.

Mendsaihan Mena taught me that dance unites communities and brings people together. She said,

We just wanted to do something as a whole group. Our first purpose was to make a flash mob, because a flash mob is something that can really connect us through the dance.

Ekaterika Georgieva talked to me about traditional Bulgarian folklore dances. She also explained to me the most typical characteristics of the dances. She shared her personal experience and described dancing on stage as “amazing,” “something that had to be felt.” In addition she said:

We went on many competitions abroad. Most of the times we win these competitions, because our culture is unique.

Milica Brajkovic taught me that for a dancer giving up is not an option, because if you really want to continue, you can always find a way to keep doing what you love. Milica was faced with the dilemma of coming to the American University in Bulgaria or staying in her hometown and continuing to build up on her dancing career. What she chose is to do both. Well I don’t mean that she is at both places at the same time, but she now teaches the “Contemporary and Jazz ballet” club at AUBG. Milica says,

I got the freedom to maybe even direct and to make choreographies by myself; I, for the first time, got experience in trying to organize by myself a whole class and rehearsal; when you think about it that gave me more freedom in what I can do, because I can be focusing on the things that I am enjoying; I don’t depend on the will of my professor, which kind of is flattering and I found it enjoying.

There are so many artistic thoughts and lessons that will stay with me. People dance for many reasons, there are many things that inspire people. Dance is an expression; it makes the music visible; it is a silent poetry; it is the mother of all arts; nothing is more revealing than dancing; it is the hidden language of the soul; it is dreaming with your feet; and that one can dance anywhere, even in his or her heart. Additionally, I learned that when you really want something, you can make it happen and motivation is key.

Thanks everyone for following me! It really means a lot to me! Happy holidays guys and don’t stop dreaming, because wishes do come true!

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Hello Fellow Bloggers!

Today I will share the story of a young, ambitious lady who left behind her old, dance-oriented life back at home, so that she can get a college degree at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG). Milica Brajkovic started dancing when she was six-years-old. She enrolled in a primary ballet school and continued her high school education in the same institute. Even though Milica was busy dancing, she managed to enroll in a second high school to study law as she was interested in law since an early age. She talks about her dance school and says,

I never regretted it just because I got so much experience in dancing. First of all in classical, modern, and contemporary ballet, and also in national dances; and we had as a requirement all the Latino dances; we’d use the elements of so many techniques and that’s pretty inspiring when you can use even yoga elements and try to deepen your knowledge and incorporate it into your actual dance.

Ballet was the key factor that kept Milica in her country for so long, but when it was time to go to college she had to make up her changing mind. When she was in third grade (eleventh grade) in high school, she got accepted to AUBG. She was faced with the dilemma of coming to AUBG or staying in her homeland and continuing to build up on her dancing career. With the possibility of coming to AUBG, Milica was faced with a great amount of uncertainly; uncertainty about whether or not she will have the opportunity to keep practicing dance. Eventually she figured out that by taking that chance, she can open her life to a brand new page that will offer her a whole new experience. She shares,

I got the freedom to maybe even direct and to make choreographies by myself; I, for the first time, got experience in trying to organize by myself a whole class and rehearsal; when you think about it that gave me more freedom in what I can do, because I can be focusing on the things that I am enjoying; I don’t depend on the will of my professor, which kind of is flattering and I found it enjoying.

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Today, she is teaching the “Contemporary and Jazz ballet” club at AUBG for the second semester. She says that,

The point of our rehearsals is not that I am teaching them. We don’t have that clear division between me as a professor and them as my students; it’s not like that at all. I am always encouraging them to do their individual programs.

Last semester the club had a really good crew and organized a concert. It included many individual projects with choreographies not only directed by Milica, but by the rest of the girls as well. The fact that she gives the girls she works with so much freedom, so much space to experiment and create their personal choreographies is amazing. Just by watching Milica lead the girls during the rehearsal I knew that she very easily becomes friends with people. She spoke in a very clear and encouraging tone of voice. She talked to the girls about what she likes, what she thinks needs more practice, and she encouraged them to keep pushing themselves so that they can really do their best. Her motivational attitude, friendliness and dedication are the three things I saw in her right away. Milica is a great leader, a nice person, and an inspiring young-achiever. I definitely recommend her classes offered at AUBG for those of you who are reading this and are interested in ballet!

Here is a short video that I shot while observing  the “Contemporary and Jazz ballet” at practice

Dear friends,

As you might already know, I am from Bulgaria. That is one of the reasons why I decided to dedicate this post to traditional Bulgarian folklore dancing. Another reason for writing about these types of dances is that they consist of unsurpassed variety and wealth of movements, steps, jumps, and twists, combined with even more complex rhythm and intonation. The group dances are either in a circle, or in line usually twisting to the right. Bulgarian folk dances definitely show us what a complex choreography looks like.

What is really unique about folklore dances is that the steps that they consist of are frequently an imitation of the movements that people have observed in nature and the surrounding world. These steps are jumps or postures of different animals, as it is evident from the names of some of the dances like Mecheshko hora (Bear’s horo), Zaeshka igra (the Rabbit Game), etc. Another reason for the creation of the Bulgarian dances is the everyday chores people from the past had to do. These people often sung about their daily routines, and created dances that were inspired by some the things they had to do.

To show an example of somebody who is enthusiastic and dedicated to the Bulgarian culture, I interviewed Ekaterina Georgieva, who is a student at the American University in Bulgaria. She has been part of the Bulgarian Military Ensemble “Horo,” for more than 8 years. Ekaterina says,

I have performed many times in front of the President of Bulgaria; also, in front of our prime minister. We make a lot of charity concerts, as well.

She describes the feeling before a concert as “amazing.” She says that, the feeling is something that is hard to be explained with words and that it is so unique that one can only feel it in order to fully understand it. Ekaterina has performed in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia and on the stage of the Amphitheatre in Plovdiv; these are the two biggest stages in Bulgaria. In addition, she says,

We went on many competitions abroad. Most of the times we win these competitions, because our culture is unique.

When I asked her what really distinguishes Bulgarian folklore dances, she said that the choreography itself is complex and very different from any other dance. She also said that the dances are unique because “like they say they make the time stop,” thanks to their irregular meters. For example, the well-known tune “Eleno Mome” exists written in 7=2+2+1+2, 13=4+4+2+3, and 12=3+4+2+3 times. What is even more interesting is that folk dancers often speak in terms of “quick” and “slow” instead of a steady meter “1, 2, 3,” etc.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about the Bulgarian culture and dances, Ekaterina recommends Professor Krotev’s book for foreigners and for all the Bulgarians who go to the American University in Bulgaria, she recommends the course he teaches, because “it’s a shame that we don’t know our own culture.”

Here is a short video that I made that tells you a little bit about Ekaterina and shows what the traditional music, dances, and costumes are like.

Hello Friends!

Today’s post will basically summarize what I have done so far as part of my blog. Since I am about half way done with the entries and interviews, I decided to go back to my posts and talk about the highlights of each one.

In my first post, I talks about the personal experience of Radina Tabakova, who performed as Helen from Troy and got a bronze medal for her outstanding performance. Taking the role of Helen categorizes Radina’s dance to something that is called “show dance.” Show dance was something I was not very familiar with prior to the interview with Radina. The brief definition that she gave me explained that in show dance, the dancer takes “the role of someone else and is meant to entertain and positively affect the audience.” This raised my interest and made me want to look further into the subject. I found out that show dance is “a theatrical representation of a story that is performed to music by trained dancers. Show Dance allows the use of lifts, acrobatics, props, lip-sync and other theatrical effects. Every performance is creative, imaginative and original, because the dancer’s personal interpretation is to be used in this type of dancing.” This was an interesting and unordinary topic for me. The fact that it combines acting and dancing in one grabbed my attention immediately and I think that if I could dance professionally, that would be one of my favorite styles, too.

My second post is about Nevena Stankova, who is a dance choreographer of dance formation “Hope”. She is a great example of an ambitious,  hard-working, young woman. She is a full-time student, doing a double-major, and she travels back to her hometown every weekend to teach dance. Some of you can probably imagine how busy and overwhelmed she probably feels sometimes. I certainly can. Now when I asked her how she does it and what keeps her going, she said:

I don’t know… Maybe I just love my job and usually it’s very rare that a person likes his or her job so much and I love it. I love the children and I am something like a second mother for them. They keep me going; they give me the power to go on.

That interview just showed me how loving, devoted, and motivated one can be, when he or she is doing what he or she loves. For Nevena, the “Hopers” are her children. She truly enjoys working with them and that is why she invests all her free time into doing that.

Another thing that amazed me about Nevena is that she sometimes has dreams about the dances she choreographs. That is extremely interesting and exceptional! It really helped me see her as one, fully-dedicated, “second mother,” because that is what she really is.

In my third post, Boryana Kaisheva, shares her experience as a salsa dancer. She has danced at a salsa club for a few years and finds salsa dancing extremely fun. What really stood out for me is that, according to Boryana, salsa dancing is a great way to meet new people. And by new people, she means all kinds of people. She says,

You meet different kinds of people, because you go to salsa clubs not only to dance, but also to meet people. For example, different people are dancing, like doctors, like school teacher. It’s very interesting because you get to know people from different fields, not only your friends that are your age, but also people that are older.

During the 5th week of my project I did my forth post, for which I interviewed Aleksandar Ivanov, who is a Latin American dancer. He has practiced all kinds of different styles, however, Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata are his favorite 3.

Now since I was not very familiar the differences between the 3, I did some further research and found out that: the greatest differences, are in the beat of the music and also in the instruments that are used, and how they are used. Merengue is 2/4 time so it has a 1,2 1,2 feel which people compare to walking or marching…left, right, left right. This makes it feel much faster than salsa because if you would have to dance very fast if you tried to fit 3 steps and a pause into the 2-beat measure.

When I asked Alex, which style he prefers the best, he said:

My favorite is salsa. Salsa was and will always be king. Merengue is loved by people who cannot dance salsa. Bachata is fast and fun, but it cannot compare either.

This is what I learned from interviewing Alex, but it was not the only thing. Recently, he had an accident and broke his ankle. He shares that for him, not being able to dance is the hardest thing ever. I learned that when dancing is “in your blood,” it is hard to go a day without it.

The following post is probably the most inspiring post in my blog. I interviewed a few girls from the dance formation “Hope,” as well as Nevena Stankova, again. I asked them why they dance for “Hope,” what was their favorite moment so far, and why they like to dance in general. I found their answers to be very complete, positive, and inspiring. For example, Hrisi said:

Hope makes me feel like I am part of something big, something really awesome, and fun… something that makes people happy and makes me even happier. It makes me feel like I am part of one big, amazing, and loving group. I feel active and valued.

I already mentioned how their choreographer, Nevena, feels like she is “a second mother” to the girls. Well, it turns out that they see her the same way. To the them, “Hope” is one big family. They have fun together, mutual goals, and get their motivation from each other, because there is nothing better than being encouraged by those who you feel the closest to.

My last post as of right now, is about Mendsaihan from Mongolia and a dance performance that her and her friends organized. She goes to the American University in Bulgaria and although she is not a professional dancer, she truly loves to dance. She came up with the wonderful idea to reunite the Mongolian community at AUBG by proposing to them that they all do something like a flashmob together and perform it on stage. They worked hard for a few weeks, after their classes in the evenings, and prepared a choreography, that they got to perform at an AUBG student government event.

This made me think about one of the effects of dancing: to reunite people. There is nothing that can unite people, make them smile or laugh, and break the ice better than the act of dancing. Dancing is a great team building activity and an incredible experience overall.

Well, this sums up all up basically. Thank you for reading! Thank you following me! And do expect more interesting publications really soon, because dancing is a true inspiration and I cannot wait to know more about it!

A video that summarize what I have done so far! Made by me, Teodora Toneva 🙂

Hi there,

Today I will talk about dancing and how it gets people together. I interviewed a second-year student from the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) named Mendsaihan. She is Mongolian and had the wonderful idea to reunite the Mongolian community at AUBG by proposing to them that they all do something together. Her first choice of ideas was to create a dance and perform it in front of an audience.

We just wanted to do something as a whole group. Our first purpose was to make a flash mob, because a flash mob is something that can really connect us through the dance,

she said.
A flash mob is when a large group of people gather at a public location to perform a pre-defined action, typically a brief dance, and disperse rapidly after the event has concluded. Flash mobs are an internet phenomenon of the 21st century, because they are often organized using social media, viral emails, or websites in general.

At AUBG, Mendsaihan and her followers made a dance to: Gangnam style, Michael Jackson tribute, and Michel Teló’s Ai Se Eu Te Pego. She shares that they had a lot of fun practicing, but getting to perform at a party organized by the student government was even more exciting! Their flash mob was one of the big surprises of the event. Not all of the performers were professional dancers, but they spent long hours practicing and tried their best in front of the audience. They did it together!

Mendsaihan is not a professional dancer and says,

If I could dance I would probably join some club or do something in Blagoevgrad, do something professional, but I am really bad at dancing

However, although she admits that she is “bad at dancing,” she likes to do it because she finds it extremely fun and entertaining. She also believes that it is one of the best ways to get people closer together. I agree. There is nothing that can unite people, make them smile or laugh, and break the ice better than the act of dancing. Dancing is a great team building activity and an incredible experience overall.

A video of Mendsaihan and the Mongolian community practicing their flash mob. They are all great!

Dear Friends,

This week I went on a fun adventure to Sandanski to interview some of the girls from the dance formation “Hope” and their choreographer, Nevena Stankova. I already talked about how talented, dedicated, and incredible she is in one of my earlier posts. This month, Nevena and her team will be celebrating 5 years from the creation of “Hope.” This is huge! For that reason, I asked some of the girls to tell me why they like being part of “Hope;” what inspires them to dance; what was their favorite moment with “Hope,” etc.

While watching the girls during their practice, I could see how much effort, how much ambition, and feeling each one of them puts into dancing. They tried hard, did not stop until they made it perfect, and looked outstanding on stage, even though it was just another day at practice. When I asked Valentina why she is part of “Hope,” she said:

I dance for “Hope,” because by being one of them, I get all that I need when I am on stage. I get to perform complicated choreographies, I feel confident, and I am part of a great team! The formation has found what it takes to be successful, and we are not afraid to show what we’ve got! I dance for “Hope,” because I want to be a champion and I believe, that I am at the right place.

Dali, another dancer from “Hope,” said,

I am part of “Hope,” because there is no other formation that can offer such high-quality; there is no other formation that gives so much love, puts so much effort and devotion into what we do. There is no other crew like “the Hopers.”

Hrisi, says she is part of “Hope,” because

            “Hope makes me feel like I am part of something big, something really awesome, and fun… something that makes people happy and makes me even happier. It makes me feel like I am part of one big, amazing, and loving group. I feel active and valued.”

Hrisi also said, that what inspires her to dance is everyone’s strong attitude, the effort that each girl from the group shows, the satisfaction, that each one of them gets, etc. Her favorite moment with “Hope” is “every single moment.” She feels that way, because she feels like she is a member of one “big, happy, crazy family.” She feels like every single moment spent with the girls is a moment of fun, laughter, and it is very memorable.

After their first practice of the year, I talked to Nevena, the choreographer, and asked her about their birthday plans. She said that throughout the year they will organize many events.

Some will be big, while other will be smaller, but all will be good. We will have one big concert at the end of June, which will include our best choreographies created during those 5 years. There will also be a separate show, which I want to keep a surprise for now, but we promise to show professionalism and high-standards. Throughout the year we will perform at as many events as possible and win as many awards as we can. Furthermore, I hope that we will be able to take part in some global competitions and expand our horizons.

said Nevena.

After spending some time with the girls, I was can truly say that I was impressed. I mean, what can be more inspiring than a team full of loving, ambitious, good-looking, young achievers. We all have dreams. Most of the “Hopers” dream of taking part in the world dance competition. They know that it takes a whole lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort, but they also know that they are completely prepared to compete, and absolutely capable of winning. By watching many of their videos and getting to meet them and talk to them in real life, I now surely know that they should aim high, because they can!

A 5-shot video of Nevena. She is killing it!

This photo was taken during one of their last performances in Sandanski

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