As a dancer of Paloina, a Folkdance group from the Netherlands, I have been asked to write a small piece for this website about the folkdance festival we attended this summer. This international festival took place in Varna, Bulgaria and lasted from the 7th till the 11th of August.
Besides local dance groups from Varna and the rest of Bulgaria, there were at least 10 other international groups from all over the world. Some of the represented countries were: Turkey, Georgia, Moldavia, Latvia and Hungary just to name a few.
Like most of the other dance groups we staid at the university hotel, just outside of Varna. At night all dancers and musicians would get together and share their music and dances with each other. And we would dance and play together till deep into the night.
After a parade though the city of Varna, the festival was opened in a beautiful open-air theatre, which was overgrown in ivy. During the opening each group had the opportunity to show a short choreography from their home country.
Later this week we would perform here again, sharing the stage with a very talented dance group from the Ukraine. But in the mean time we would also perform on other stages in Varna and in other cities nearby.
We soon discovered that our Dutch costumes were not very well suited for the hot Bulgarian weather, as they exist of many layers of black wool. But this was a small discomfort we were willing to pay for the reactions they received from the audiences.
My group Paloina has a large repertoire that comprises of international choreographies and traditional dances from all over the world. We performed a number of Dutch choreographies (some on wooden shoes) featuring traditional Dutch song and dance. But we were also able to perform one of our Bulgarian choreographies from the region of Sopluk. This completely surprised the audience, who weren’t expecting to see a Dutch group a dance Bulgarian dance. And although we must have made a few quite amusing mistakes, the reaction of the audience was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
The closing ceremony also took place in Varna’s open-air theatre, where all seats were filled. Just as in the opening, every group performed one dance and Paloina was even permitted to dance two: A Dutch dance and a Bulgarian Dance. And once again the crowd went mad. And at the end of the evening the stage was filled with a dancers from every group, all dancing a Bulgarian dance.
All together it was an amazing week and it was an honor to be part of such a large, well-organized festival! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Bulgaria and hope to come back one day!