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The dance of the most beautiful and tender love or the most burning and destructive feelings. The countless emotions gathered on this earth and recreated with every particle of the body. This is ballet. The art of beauty before which we remain silent and of perfection that takes our breath away.
We are talking about the magic of ballet, its infinitely rich history, as well as the pain and work behind its success, with Gabriel Stoyanov – ballet master/ballet dancer, deservedly honored to study at one of the most prestigious ballet dancers. schools in the world.
Hello, Gabriel! Introduce yourself briefly to us.
Gabriel: Hello and thank you for the invitation to do this interview. It is a great pleasure for me.
My name is Gabriel Stoyanov, 27 years old. I was born in Sofia, but I grew up not far from the city, in the villages of Dobroslavtsi and Balsha. I would say that my childhood was filled with many games on the street, a lot of fun with the children from the neighboring houses, a lot of time spent with grandparents from both villages. I love when I return to Bulgaria to go to them and just talk. To tell them about interesting events from the world, to listen to them…
I have wonderful parents who have always supported me in the decisions and choices in my life.
When did your love for ballet appear?
Gabriel: I’ve been dancing since I was 5 and I’ve always loved to dance. I still remember how important it was to me! My mother, seeing my desire and my love for dance, gave me to the preparatory group in the ensemble “Rosna Kitka”. I don’t remember exactly, but then I think we had a Lada car and since she didn’t know how to get there, my father drove us to the place. The two more or less somehow determined my destiny, for which I am still grateful to this day. Maybe twice I didn’t want to go dancing, but that wasn’t an option. They always said that once I got caught up in the dance, I would dance it to the end!
Then I entered the National School of Dance Art, Bulgarian Dance Department, where I studied for 5 years in the class of Nikola Kolev. It was a wonderful time, but also very difficult. Every year exams, grades, sweat, tears, injuries. It was not easy to get in shape, we were preparing for the state exams, and each class had to be completed as a last resort. I still remember the feeling of excitement in front of them.
Tell us about your development as a ballet dancer – from the very beginning until today.
Gabriel: From a young age I chose this path – to be a ballet dancer and to dance on stage. Despite the watchful eye of Nikola Kolev and the boundless professionalism during all these years of study, I secretly went up to the “ballet floor”, as we distributed them (the National School has three specialties and three separate floors – Bulgarian Dance, Classical Ballet and Modern Ballet ) and additionally entered the classes of Peter Koldamov, I remember that I attended the pas de deux class of Boyko Nedelchev, worked a lot with Anatoly Klochkov and it was very important for me to get as much information as possible, I just wanted to learn. The turning point came when I started working with Acad. Krassimira Koldamova, who I still do not miss to visit every time I visit Bulgaria. She gave me a lot, she taught me a lot.
I love Bulgarian dances, but inside my heart, I knew that I would continue with ballet and follow my dreams in this direction. I have never regretted it, not for a second. I do not see myself in any other profession, except as a ballet dancer. At least at this stage. After graduating from the National School of Dance in 2012, I was admitted to the prestigious National Academy of Music “Pancho Vladigerov” in Sofia, majoring in Ballet Pedagogy of Education under the guidance of Kalina Bogoeva. In the same year, I left the country and went dancing in Poland. In 2018 I completed a master’s degree with the title of Ballet Master. I will never forget the words of Assoc. Prof. Kalina Bogoeva on the last day when she handed me the diploma. Then she said: “Go, find a male ballet teacher from a Russian school, rehearse with him for a while, you have the qualities, you have the talent, only good things will happen to you.” That’s what I did! She is the other person who plays a huge role in my development and I will always be grateful to her. The support I receive from her in every small success of mine is indescribable.
Later I was invited to teach in Switzerland, where I still live today.
In recent years I have been dancing mainly as a guest performer. Extremely much with the prima ballerina Myrna Kamara (in Switzerland, Italy, America).
I enjoy how diverse dance can be and the freedom of expression it gives. I especially love ballet because of its beauty and complexity. It is a spiritual art that not every viewer can appreciate with dignity.
Dancing helps me feel calm after a busy day, as well as recharge. This clears my mind and gives me a natural boost of energy. I love the fact that everything that happened during the day or week I can leave behind after putting on ballet shoes.
You are currently studying for a doctorate at one of the most prestigious ballet academies in the world – “Agripina Ya. Vaganova” in St. Petersburg, Russia. How does it feel to touch such an opportunity?
Gabriel: Ballet – an art that has become a business card of Russia, which fascinates, admires the aesthetics, grace, and perfection of forms – plastic body, very gentle, soft hands, perfect coordination… On my first visit to the school in February last year, I was fascinated by the great discipline, the incredible diligence of the students, the historic building, the school museum, which is a wonderful book that contains a history of great personalities and events. On the walls of the 7 floors, there are photos of all graduates from the establishment of the academy in 1738 to the present day. Definitely life in the academy. I managed to visit the class of the People’s Artist of Russia, Rector of the Academy Nikolai Maksimovich Tsiskaridze. Then Lyudmila Kovalyova came in, said good afternoon, and sat down next to me to look too. I had the feeling that my heart would jump with excitement… Then I said to myself that one day I will be a graduate of this academy and I will follow this dream of mine until it becomes a reality.
Classical dance has not lost its popularity there for many years. For 283 years now, the Agripina Ya. Vaganova Academy has existed – it is still strong and continues to be at this level as it was in the Soviet Union. In my opinion, the requirements for ballet have become more serious nowadays. After all, the aesthetics have changed: in the past, the form was not much-watched, it was important how the artists dance, how musical they are, how dramatically they play their role. Now we want to see on stage beautiful shapes, beautiful figures, beautiful artists. At the same time, they have to dance well and be musical.
The modern world looks at things differently. But as far as classical art is concerned, yes, I believe that my “new home,” so to speak, is still in front of everyone.
It was August. After three tense rounds, through which they passed the exams, the tension did not leave me. I remember that the list of accepted students came out on Sunday. When I saw my name among those accepted, believe me, I did not know how to react. I assumed I must have been mistaken and probably misread. I told myself that I would wait until Monday to receive written confirmation and then celebrate. I was right, I received a congratulatory email on Monday morning. I was accepted to continue my education at the academy I had dreamed of as a child, I could not believe that I would have the opportunity to touch all these great educators, about whom I had only read or watched interviews, that I would draw information from the sources of ballet art. Believe me, then for the first time I felt that something big had happened in my life. I specialize in doctoral studies in Ballet Master’s Education – Choreographic Art. Huge thanks to my artistic director – Doctor of Cultural Sciences, Professor, Head of the Department of Postgraduate Qualification Irina Igorevna Irhen.
What is the level of ballet art in Bulgaria?
Gabriel: By Anastas Petrov and the founding of the Bulgarian Ballet Theater – Bulgaria is known as a country with traditions and high professionalism in the field of ballet. An example is all the above-mentioned personalities who occupy a worthy place in the treasury of Bulgarian ballet – Bulgarian artists, pedagogies, and choreographers.
Also, the end of the Second World War and the strengthening of Bulgaria’s ties with Soviet Russia had a positive effect on the future of our ballet art. The contribution of the Russian ballet emigrants to the rise of ballet art, to its revival and renewal, is another finding for the development of the Bulgarian ballet art.
It would be wonderful for a country like Bulgaria to have a mission to discover and promote young ballet talents. Ballet theatrical art in general. The ballet competition in Varna is an example of the world-renowned events taking place in the country.
Yes, the main thing – this is, of course, work on yourself throughout life. And physically, and not only. It is not in vain that we have professional and general professional disciplines at school. In the humanitarian sense, it must develop very actively. And not just what they give at school. We learn all our lives.
And if we think about how many personalities, how many children have glorified and continue to glorify Bulgaria with their talent, their dedication, and desire to reach new heights – then we will understand how much a whole nation can be proud of.
I very much hope that the media coverage would grow, as it is also very important.
From whom do you draw inspiration in a professional nature?
Gabriel: At the moment, I’m very inspired by old Soviet ballet documentaries. Firstly, because I practice my Russian, secondly because there is so much history in them.
Especially the teaching method… I ask myself: Is it changing?
You always have to evolve. There must be a good foundation, but if there is something to be built, it must be built, not to give it up. Agrippina Vaganova is our foundation on which we must stand, not to leave it, say. But all supplements, if they are beneficial – why not? It makes me constantly ask questions, helps me go to the studio, and tries to make something in a way that has inspired me. My teachers inspire me a lot. And last but not least, my ballet teacher. I have full confidence in him, which I think is extremely important, because, without the physical, emotional, and psychological support, without the great respect for each other, without all the times in which this man has encouraged me, without constructive criticism and the desire for high achievements, without the challenges posed to me during the work process, without the incredible discipline and upbringing to lead a healthier lifestyle – I would not have been able to develop. In the ballet profession, without burning in your work, a professional result is not obtained.
What do the stage and the dance give you?
Dance is like magic that no one can escape. And no, not just the dance, but the perfect dance called ballet. With so much tenderness, grace, vanity, imagination, and emotion in it, this art is, to put it mildly, exquisite and incomparable. Classical ballet introduces me to a magical world full of dreams, youth, and beauty. I read somewhere that ballet is like painting on the water – I think this comparison almost perfectly describes the magic of this kind of art.