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Iolanta Zaharieva: Endless fairytale or how important it is never to stop dreaming

12 November 2008 / 07:11:09  GRReporter
5060 reads

Marina Nikolova


What is the attitude of the people here towards ballet? Are there any fans… 

 Greeks are crazy for ballet. I still cannot understand why, when you keep in mind that there aren’t good opportunities for realization. The Greek language has many words connected to ballet – for cloths, shoes. Their love for ballet has come over the way they express themselves. Maybe this can be explained with their history – the ancient Dance Goddess, Terpsichore. 

When you arrived in Greece, where did you start from, did you continue engaging in ballet? 

Initially I started working in a eurhythmics club. I trained future gymnasts for ballet. It was a good step because this allowed me to learn Greek better. With my husband we speak English at home. In my second year here I started teaching classical ballet in one of the best professional schools in Athens, something like an university, because the ballet-dancers training goes on for three years, after which they are tested in front of the Ministry of Culture committee. Based on their performance, they are given a diploma for a professional performer, and if the candidate wishes to become also a ballet teacher, the education continues for one more year, in other words – four full years. 

Can we find you on stage right now? 

No, right now I’m teaching and I set ballet plays with students from the school – this is actually their practicum. For those three years I have set up short versions of the shows “Chopiniana,” “La Bayadèr,” and “Don Quixote.” This year I’m preparing the “Cinderella” ballet, one wonderful ballet fairytale. 

It sounds very nice, but how do the ballet-dancers succeed professionally? 

In Athens there is one opera theatre with classical ballet and very little ballet plays. Most of them become teachers in ballet schools around the country. 

What is happening with contemporary ballet? 

There are dance groups, which get together for the performance of a project, which is the case with Dimitris Papaioannou’s “Medea.” He give an audition or does the project with known to him dancers, they perform ten plays and after that – “Goodbye.” The most important thing is to have the finances. Now, whatever Papaioannou decides to set up, he will find the means, because he became a name thanks to his great plays, which he did for the opening and closing of the Olympic Games. 

Is it easier for the professional dancers in Greece or in Bulgaria to succeed professionally? 

There are more opportunities in Bulgaria. The Sofia Opera and ballet house plays almost all basic classical performances. Besides that, there are many contemporary plays, which are often choreographed by famous people from foreign countries. Every week there is a ballet included in the opera program. Not even to mention that in almost every opera, there is also ballet as well. There is the musical theatre in Sofia as well – Operetata. A big name is also the ballet group “Arabesk,” whose repertoire is mainly the contemporary ballet. TV’s and theatres in the big Bulgarian cities also have their own ballet groups, not only that but also shows and advertising programs. When I was in Bulgaria, I often participated special events, fashion shows, etc and set up small ballet forms for advertisements. 

It is amazing that there are more possibilities in Bulgaria for dancer than here. Because it looks like there is a bigger and regular audience here. 

Yes, there is audience here but mainly when there is a foreign group performing. Of course, the advertising is great when people pay huge amounts of money for tickets. 

Have our dancers from the opera or other groups made performances in Athens? 

In 2001 a mixed group of singers and ballet dancers from the Sofia Opera danced to Jose Cura’s “Aida” in “The Music Hall” – one great tenor during the last few years. The same production has been played in the opera in Milano “La Scala.” They were so impressed by us that they invited us again with the ballet “Giselle” – it was the first time that a ballet play was shown in “The Music Hall.” The soloists were invited from the Russian ballet – Svetlana Zaharova, Diana Vishneva, Vladimir Malahov. It was crowded, they didn’t manage to satisfy everybody, so we came one more time. 

And in Bulgaria there is an audience not only for the celebrities.. 

Yes, to dance in Sofia is a responsibility because there is a regular audience, which knows the abilities of each performer. While in other countries, they don’t know you and they accept you as you are – you come in, get on stage… and dance. Nothing more. 

Don’t you miss dancing on stage? 

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