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50 stories - Bulgaria and Folk Dance Canberra

25 July 2022 Events and Discussions


Building bridges between Australia and Bulgaria through the magic of folklore

Folk Dance Canberra (FDC) has been teaching recreational folk dancing from many countries around the world since 1994.

For us, the relationship between Australia and Bulgaria rests, not so much on one individual, but the cultural essence of Bulgaria through the form of its national dances.  Over the years, Bulgarian teachers have been invited by Folk Dance Australia (FDA) to run workshops around Australia, teachers such as Aleksander Zankin, Katya and Ned Tilevi, Belco Stanev and in 2019, Tanya Dimitrova. Tanya’s visit to Canberra was initiated by one FDC member, Katerina Kormusheva, who had danced as a younger person with Tanya in Pazardzhik.  The Bulgarian Embassy here in Canberra was extremely helpful in ensuring all the protocols were followed to ensure this visit ran smoothly.  Tanya was such an energetic and inspiring teacher, greatly appreciated by the different groups she taught here and in Sydney during her short stay. 

Virtual workshops, organised by FDA, during this time of pandemic lockdowns also resulted in one from Dr Gergana Panova (2021) at which she presented her dance, Gulab Forka, choreographed especially for her first ‘visit’ to Australia, to a beautiful traditional Rhodopi folk song.

Bulgaria’s influence on the dance sphere has permeated across Australia and the world with people attending dance seminars in Bulgaria, forming firm friendships which resulted in return visits.  A major drawcard is the Koprivshtitsa Festival, held every five years in the mountains to the east of Sofia, but this is not the only attraction.  Dancers are also curious as to the cultural significance of dances and regions we hear about, that the desire to experience for oneself is often irresistible.

It is fascinating to see the influence that Bulgarian dance and culture has on people of all ages and backgrounds.  Those devoid of Bulgarian heritage, from multi-national and Anglo-Saxon backgrounds, from teenagers to over 80’s, love to learn steps and song lyrics so foreign to them.

Bulgaria has so enriched our folk dance world through the wide variety of beautiful music with fascinating complex rhythms, pure singing voices and colourful regional costumes and we look forward to a continued happy relationship.


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