The mission of Iliev Dance Art Foundation, as an internationally focused organization, is to further develop the dance art in Bulgaria and promote it as an important part of Bulgarian culture and society, while introducing international professional expertise and experience to Bulgarian (and not only) dance artists in an attempt to constantly expand their artistic horizons.
The aims of the Foundation may be summarized in the following way:
Supporting the professional development of young dance artist by:
- Offering high quality dance training on an international professional level;
- Motivating dance artists to peruse international career, by facilitating training, communication and exchange of experience with renowned international professionals;
- Increasing their career opportunities locally by involving them in different artistic productions, thus encouraging initiative and entrepreneurship.
Creating contemporary and original dance performances with strong Bulgarian identity, which enrich Bulgarian dance art and distinguish it internationally.
Encouraging cultural and artistic exchange as a whole.
Employing the potential of dance education for social and educational purposes, aiming it at children, especially children at risk, in an attempt to give them access to better opportunities in life.
Participation in different civil and advocacy initiatives aiming at placing dance art as one of the priorities of cultural policies, created by central and local government institutions.
It was a truly life-changing experience for me. It was amazing having the opportunity to work with such great teachers and choreographers. It has made me more aware of the world around me and the opportunities that may lie in store for me down the road. I know that I will never look at the world of dance or at myself in the same way again after this experience.
Kyle Johnson, USA
I learned so much and gained precious experience! I will be truly happy if the program continues to exist because it contributes greatly to our development. Thank you for making this workshop a reality for the Bulgarian dancers!
Deyan Ivanov, Bulgaria
I know that this journey will be one of the most memorable events in my life. I loved it and I hope to be back soon. The part which I loved the most was holding hands with everyone in the circle as we danced, and we all laughed and enjoyed as much as we could.
Rina Shimizu, USA
This project changed my life completely. Meeting such an incredible group of teachers was a fantastic experience. They were highly professional teachers and incredible role models. Although we only worked with them for a short period of time, the memory will be forever with me and I am eagerly expecting the next opportunity to work with the incredible crew of Dance Bulgaria 2008.
Eliza Kalcheva, Bulgaria
My trip to Bulgaria was an amazing experience. The cultural diversity between Bulgaria and the United States was an eye-opening experience for me. I loved learning Bulgarian folk dancing and found myself smiling at the end of every class. I felt I worked very hard and had a fantastic time. If given the chance, I would definitely go back.
Regan Bell, USA
Your country is beautiful and it was truly a pleasure getting to stay and perform there. It was also really great getting to know the people and learning about the culture of Bulgaria.
Madeline Koch, USA
You were graciously helpful in meeting us at the airport, translating and taking us to delicious places to eat. Getting to meet the other students from Bulgaria was amazing. They were very welcoming, friendly and helpful.
Jessie Guerrero, USA
Although I loved the classes and felt the workshop was very beneficial, I think that the most valuable part about the week was meeting people and making friends with students our age who live in such a different culture. After the performance, I cannot believe how emotional all of us were. It was so difficult to leave all of the new friends that we had made. Saying Good-bye to them was the hardest part of the trip, but this also showed me how wonderful the experience was and how happy I was to be able to be there, even if only for a week.
Haley Holman, USA
In April 2008 and 2009, through the initiative of Bulgaria-born dance teacher and choreographer, Petur Iliev, The National School of Dance Art in Bulgaria hosted week-long intensive dance workshops, which gave aspiring young dancers from Bulgaria and the US the opportunity to study different dance styles with renowned master choreographers. Each year the students had the opportunity to acquire fundamental knowledge of four extremely different dance forms: jazz, modern (2008) or hip hop (2009), Bulgarian folk dancing and classical ballet, and also witnessed the creative process through which their teachers approached the creation of a complete choreography. Approximately 125 children from all the corners of Bulgaria, and 15 children from the US participated in the project each year. Eight top professionals devoted their time and expertise to the project: Daniel Duell (School of Ballet Chicago), Mariana Deneva (Bulgarian National School of Dance Art), Sonia Dawkins (Pacific Northwest Ballet–Seattle), Alice Bergeson (Pacific Northwest Ballet–Seattle), Evgenia Rangelova (Italy), Hristo Ivanov (Bulgarian National School of Dance Art), Daniel Cruz (Cruz Control – Seattle) and Petur Iliev (School of Ballet Chicago).
These first editions of the dance program enjoyed tremendous success! Both students and teachers were very enthusiastic and worked really hard during the short time they had together. The students demonstrated talent, strong work ethic and a burning desire to learn and develop. During those intensive weeks they acquired new dance vocabulary and techniques, and participated in the short choreographies set by the teachers. Each year the workshops ended with concerts, which showcased the new choreographies and demonstrated the students’ progress. They also included performances by professional dance companies: Pirin, Trakia, Arabesque and Philip Kutev from Bulgaria, and Prism from the US. The concerts were held to fully packed halls and the performances received long-lasting ovations. The workshops enjoyed tremendous interest from the media as well, and their participants were featured in several TV shows.
The endeavor has so far been possible thanks to major grants from the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, Ballet Chicago, The Bulgarian National School of Dance Art, and many American and Bulgarian private benefactors, including generous in-kind donations.
In addition, the workshops became the springboard for yet another fruitful Bulgaria-USA dance collaboration. Both years Ballet Chicago awarded 15 full tuition scholarships for Bulgarian students to participate in their prestigious summer program. Thus, so far thirty exceptionally gifted and diligent young Bulgarians had the opportunity to train for six weeks at a prestigious US ballet center. All of them were students of the Bulgarian National School of Dance Art but came from different parts of Bulgaria. They were selected by the teachers of the workshop. The students’ families and private sponsors covered only their airfare, while members of the Bulgarian community in Chicago and supporters of Ballet Chicago took care of their accommodations and meals.
The Bulgarian dancers made incredibly good impression in the US. They participated in all the choreographies set during the summer programs and presented at the final concerts. Two of the dancers, Nikolina Karageorgieva and Eliza Kaltcheva, received full tuition scholarships, which enabled them to continue their training at Ballet Chicago’s year-long comprehensive program in 2008/2009.
Upon their return back home, all of the Bulgarian students shared their enormous satisfaction with their participation in the project. They were hopeful that the project will continue to exist and will develop further, providing aspiring dancers with the opportunity to train in different dance forms on both sides of the ocean. With this goal in mind, in July 2008, in Sofia, the international Iliev Dance Art Foundation was created, an organization which took upon itself the task of guaranteeing the continuation and expansion of the workshops.
Chairperson and Artistic Director
Petur Iliev is the main artistic force behind the Foundation. The activities we carry out reflect his long experience as an artist and educator, and his creative vision for the future of dance. He is happy to be a member of a strong, supportive and inspired team with many accomplishments.
As Executive Director of Iliev Dance Art Foundation since August 2011 to February 2015, Rozalina Laskova took the ambition to continue the incredibly successful project Dance Bulgaria but also to extend the activities of the foundation. She has several years of professional experience in the state administration in Bulgaria and in Germany, in fields such as good governance, administrative capacity, civil society participation in policy making, e-government, transnational projects and the European Structural Funds. She also works on many projects with the NGO Observatory of Cultural Economics, contributing together to better policies in the field of culture, arts, cultural and creative industries through different analyses, public discussions and initiatives as well as media activity. Besides her love for nature and her passion for different arts, Rozalina is devoted to topics such as creativity, leadership, society development and active civil society.
Kamelia Kaloyanova is an experienced professional with significant project management background gained with organizations funded by the United States Agency for International Development, World Bank, USDA, and the EU structural funds. She has proven success working in the public and private sectors and possesses strong business acumen. She also has a long experience in on-going assistance to NGO formation and management, grants application and proposal writing. One of the projects she has been working with focuses on setting up a private-based certification and assessment system and producing a guide that measures and rewards the appropriate types of behavior in the area of sustainable tourism development. She also works in the area of culture as a vehicle for local development.