When I was a student at the Dance School in Sofia, during breaks I would run to the American Center to get the latest issue of Dance Magazine. This was the only way to stay informed about the news and trends in the ballet world. I wanted to improve, so in 1999 I left for the US with only $350 in my pocket and without knowing a word of English. Two years later, I went to yet another audition – this time, at the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. Suzanne Farrell is an icon – the muse of the founder of the American Classical Ballet George Balanchine. She recognized and appreciated my talent – I was the only soloist in Don Quixote for years.
American Ballet in Bulgaria? Don’t be absurd, they said. No one believed that American dancers and choreographers would perform and work here, until I met the America for Bulgaria Foundation. For four seasons in a row, the Sofia Opera and Ballet staged the best performances of Balanchine, William Forsythe and Jerome Robbins, the exotic Sheherazade Ballet of Kathryn Posin (a premiere for Europe), La Source (a premiere for Eastern Europe and the Balkans). In addition to the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, the exceptional Alvin Ailey Dance Company performed in the National Palace of Culture, as well as the stars of the New York City Ballet Maria Kowroski, Savannah Lowery and Steven Hannah as part of the Tom Gold Dance Company.
I am a 100% optimist. When there is a cause, nothing can stop me. So I keep on dreaming. My big dream is to help young dancers in Bulgaria to constantly improve and for the Bulgarian ballet tradition to be popularized all around the world.
Momchil Mladenov, dancer and choreographer
“For the first time, I danced on stage with stars from the American ballet scene. For the first time, I worked with American choreographers. We had to adjust to one another very quickly for very complicated performances. In Apollo, for example, we dance close, forming a chain all the time, holding hands. All choreographers were calm and experienced, staging performances after just a few days of rehearsals. Everyone was impressed with our level of training. Each season was interesting and moving and with the hard work of the entire National Ballet Company crew, we managed to turn the American Ballet into an unforgettable show for our audience.”
Katerina Petrova, prima ballerina at the Sofia Opera and Ballet
The photo, featuring Sofia Opera and Ballet prima ballerinas Marta Petkova and Katerina Petrova and ballerinas Venera Hristova and Vihra Madjarova, is from the original photo session “Lose Yourself to Dance” – a project of Slav, photo Lubomir Sergeev, assistant Borislav Zhuikov, stylist Tsvetomir Goranov, make-up Marina Mladenova.