Dance is the hidden language of the soul

Let the show begin: Antistatic International Festival for Contemporary Dance and Performance

Interview by Scott Green and Andrea Vushkova, photos by Antistatic, Nik Pate, and Nataliya Sidorenko
Published 8 May. 2022

This coming Monday, 9 May, the 15th edition of the Antistatic Festival for Contemporary Dance and Performance opens with the first act “Duets with Abstraction” at “Kvadrat 500” National Gallery.

Open Bulgaria is an Official Media Partner of the Antistatic Festival and we've met previously with the founders of the festival -you can read the article here- and had exclusive access with the performers and choreographers set to take the stage over the next two weeks.

Strange Foreign Bodies will be at Toplocentrala, "South Park - II" at 19:30 on 10 May. The Facebook event can be viewed here. Upon interviewing Zufit Simon they revealed that “I create and perform with the wish and aim to move something in the audience. To confront them with their own eyes and own perception. I wish to stimulate the audience, to explore the obvious, what is been taken for granted, and to question it.” 

Having started dancing at the age of 4 or 5, and learning classical ballet for more than 12 years, Zufit says it was a struggle. But upon moving to Germany to further their education in dance, “a new door was opened in front of me. Suddenly I was acquainted with so many different forms of moving, of dancing. I went almost every day to watch performances, I was hungry to see more and more and try and develop myself further.”

Stephanie Handjiiska and Kosta Karakashyan were set to take the stage also at Toplocentrala on 11 May at 19:00 with the performance “84 conversations.” Unfortunately though due to force majeure this performance has been canceled, you can still read their interview below. 
Upon asking when they discovered their passion for performance, Stephanie said “I discovered my passion for performing as soon as I developed a consciousness. I've always been the child performer, finding little occasions to make up shows and perform them in any circumstance.”

Kosta has been a dancer since the age of five, he said though “my relationship with dance has changed so many times over the years. Now I consider myself a creator who uses the language of dance, as I think the performing arts can be really powerful when we take them out of the context of just performing in the black box of the theatre.”

Both performers hope to have a lasting impact on the world around them, whether it be by teaching non-professional performers, or by making a more equitable and sustainable environment for other performers.

When asked about the performance, Stephanie said “In this performance, we are playing with the idea of 'selling dance' as if dance was a highly valued asset. I did work in Sales in London while we were devising the show, and my personal sales score was that I needed to do 84 dials on average to be able to close one deal. I was curious to flip the script from selling software to selling dance.”

Photo by Nik Pate

Kosta said, about performing for a higher purpose, "I really believe in the potential of socially engaged art to change the world, and this is something I aspire to do with my work. My next project right after our performance at Antistatic Festival is an immersive show called The Last Sunset which tackles the negative impact of fossil fuels and their exploitation in Bulgaria. It’s premiering on May 18, 19, and 21 at an unusual location - the Regional Landfill in Gabrovo as part of the 25th Gabrovo Biennial of Humor and Satire."

Another performance that will take place at Toplocentrala "South Park - II" is "Dance, baby, dance", choreographed by Zhana Pencheva. The Facebook event can be found here. "Dance, baby, dance" is part of the Bulgarian Dance Platform of the festival. Zhana Pencheva created this project in continuation of her previous work "Six love songs" which was a choreographic concert.

Explaining the idea behind this new performance, Zhana says: "Bodies are the tool that stimulates desires and pleasures. I think the topic of pleasure and bodies, which the performance celebrates, you could always feel in my works and it is always existing. [...] In addition, I started having thoughts about shame, anger, loneliness and other delicate spaces, which could also open when everything is stimulated with pleasure and joy. So, “dance” transforms into a magical pill that we take and the wildness comes out in space. So much potential. Enjoy!"

Photo by Nataliya Sidorenko

The dancers in "Dance, baby, dance" are Zhana herself, Zornitsa Stoyanova, Aleksandar Georgiev, Daniel Denev, and Darío Barreto Damas. The music is composed by Tsvetan Momchilov, who also collaborated with Zhana in her previous project. When asked if she choreographs and performs for a greater purpose, Zhana says: "There is always a greater purpose in my performing and choreographic works. I do it with all my existence, presence, history, experience, future nostalgia and beliefs.  I believe in the things in which I exist in a performative aspect. [...] There is a greater purpose in dance by itself."

Performances showing in the coming days:
9 May, 19:00 - 20:30, Duets with abstraction. National Gallery "Kvadrat 500"
10 May, 19:30 - 21:00, Strange Foreign Bodies. Toplocentrala "South Park - II"
11 May, 17:00 - 18:00, LOVECAGE. Derida Stage "Tsar Samuil"
11 May, 19:00 - 20:00, 84 conversations. CANCELED
11 May, 21:00 - 22:00, Dance, baby, dance. Toplocentrala "South Park - II"
The full schedule can be viewed here. Tickets can be booked here.

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