Bulgarian Folk Dances & Choreography
Iliana Hristova Bozhanova was born in 1961 in Galabovo, in the Stara Zagora region of Bulgaria. She grew up in a family of musicians and singers in South Thrace. In 1981, she graduated from the National School for Art Instructors in Plovdiv. She completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in "Bulgarian Folk Dances and Choreography" at the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Artsin Plovdiv, the oldest folk arts academy in the Balkans and the most acclaimed in Bulgaria.
At the age of fifteen, Iliana became a member of the folk dance Ensemble Rachenitsa in Plovdiv.Her experiences with the Ensemble, under Artistic Director Dimitar Doichinov, inspired Iliana to devote the major part of her life to Bulgarian folklore. Through the ensemble she had the opportunity to perform Bulgarian folk dances in other parts of Bulgaria, as well as in Greece, Serbia, Poland, Belgium, Portugal, France, Italy, Holland, and Russia. She met many wonderful people through this group, and it was here that she took her first steps as a dance teacher.
In 1981, Iliana became choreographer and artistic director of two children's folk dance ensembles – Ensemble Radost in the village of Yoakim Gruevo, and the Children’s Ensemble of the Roza Dimitrova Orphanage in Plovdiv. She created her first dance choreographies for these children and also introduced both groups at the Festival for Amateur Folk Art in Plovdiv.
Since October of 2004, Iliana has been the director and choreographer of Ensemble Voivodintsiwhich is comprised of 8 dance groups, 4 of children and 4 of adults and a female singing group. The members of the Ensemble are 150 people.
In 2005, Iliana has been invited to serve as Dance Coordinator for the Folk Seminar Plovdiv-at the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts in Plovdiv.
The other very important part of her life is organizing tours in Bulgaria for many of her dance students and friends from all over the World.
Besides her work as a dance teacher and choreographer, Iliana has worked as a technician of architecture and civil engineering. She is married and has two sons.
Iliana’s Work as a Choreographer
Since 1995, Iliana has worked with the Bosilek Bulgarian Folk Dance Ensemble. At the invitation of Cathie Springer, the group’sartistic director, Iliana has created 17 choreographies for Bosilek, using folk dance and ritual elements from regions all over Bulgaria. The choreographies are: Enyovden, Pirinska miluvka, Babini unuki, Haide bulki na pazar, Shopski tantsi, Varnenski tants, Maimari, Byalo, zeleno, cherveno, Peperuda v Dobrudzha, Na firuglitsa, Trakiiki, Kokonitsi, Gabrovski ritmi, Oro se vie. Fire and Magic, Sedi Donka, Kopanitsa.
Iliana is appreciative of the opportunity Bosilek has given her to create these choreographies and share the wonderful richness of Bulgarian folklore, and for "opening the door to the world," as she began her international teaching career.
Iliana has also worked as a choreographer for Ensemble Zarove in Najmegen, Holland, since 1995. The artistic director of this wonderful children's group is Esther Willems.
Iliana has created several suites for them - Trakiiski ritmi, Detsata na Pirin, Dobrudzhancheta, and Krivo horo.
In June 2004, Iliana was invited to create a Bulgarian dance choreography for Het Internationaal Danstheaterin Amsterdam, with artistic director Maurits van Geel. Her choreography, Spozdrav ot Bulgaria, was part of their big dance performance, "Finale 10,000 Volt." This is the only professional international folk dance theater in Holland, and Iliana was honored to have been chosen to work with their dancers, musicians and faculty.
Choreographies for other folk dance ensembles include:
- Planina Ensemble for International Folk Dances - Los Alamos, New Mexico (1997) - Bulgarska suita
- Da igramo Ensemble for Balkan Folk Dances - Rochester, New York (1997, 1998) - Nastroenie
- Kitka Ensemble for International Folk Dances - Oslo, Norway (1999) - Severni ritmi
- Pojas Folk Dance Ensemble – Taipei, Taiwan (2004, 2007) - Shopski tants, Severniysshki ritmi
- Legacy European Folk Dance Troupe – Hong Kong (2004) -Severnyashki tants, Trakiiski tants
- Radost Folk Ensemble - Seattle, WA, USA (2009) - Oro se vie, Krivo horo and Sedi Donka
Dance Teaching & Lectures
United States of America:
Iliana is well known as a Bulgarian folk dance teacher by dozens of folk dance groups in many areas of the U.S., including New York, Washington DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, California, Oregon, Utah, Washington, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Arizona, Louisiana. She has also taught at folk dance camps ranging from weekend to 2-week-long events. These include:
- East European Folklife Center’s, Balkan Music & Dance Camps at Mendocino, CA and Ramblewood in MD (1996, 1997, 1998)
- Folklore Dance Camp, Mendocino, California (1998)
- Pinewoods Dance Camp, Massachusetts (2001)
- Mainewoods Dance Camp, Maine (1998, 2002)
- Stockton Folk Dance Camp, Stockton, California (2001, 2002)
- Veselo Folk Dance Festival, Eugene, OR (2005, 2009)
- Madison Wisconsin Folkball Festival
- Laguna Folk Dancers Festival, South California (2009)
- Balkanalia Folk Dance Festival, Oregon (1998, 2016)
- North South Teachers Seminar, California (2016)
- June Camp of Mady Newfield, Illinois (2013)
Iliana has presented lecture-demonstrations on Bulgarian folk art and dances at these universities:
- UCLA - Los Angeles, CA (1997)
- UCSD - San Diego, CA (1997)
- UCSB - Santa Barbara, CA (2001)
- Brigham Young University - Provo, UT (2000)
- University of the Pacific – Stockton, CA (2001, 2002)
- California University of Art – South California (2000)
- Eastman University - Rochester, NY (1998, 2000)
Iliana has also given presentations at high schools in New York, Vermont,Washington and Pennsylvania States.
Work in other countries includes:
- USA - 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016 – all over the States
- Canada – 2007, 2010, 2013 – Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Salt Spring Island Folk Dance Festival in British Columbia.
- Japan - 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2017 - Tokyo, Kioto, Kobe, Fujisava, Ibaraki, Okinawa and other surrounding areas
- Taiwan - 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2017 – Taipei, Yilan, Taichung.
- Hong Kong - 2004, 2007, 2017
- Indonesia - 2004 - Bali Folk Dance Camp
- Switzerland - 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 –Zurich, Bern, Basel, Lugano, Kiental, Trullikon, Winterthur, Binn, Vattiz, Baden, Hasliberg
- Germany – 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017- Munich, Darmstadt, Oldenburg, Rosenheim, Reimlingen Silvestaer Camp, Freiburg Silvester Camp
- United Kingdom – 2009, 2012, 2015, 2017 – London, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Edinburgh, Southampton, Norwich, Liverpool.
- Holland - 1995, 2002, 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014–Teaching tour to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Edde, Kullemburg, Zaits, Dordrecht, Eindhoven, Apeldorn, Veenendaal, Haarlem.
- Norway -1999 - Teaching tour to Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Harstad, Sandefjord, Tonsberg
- Israel - 2006 – Jerusalem,Haifa
- Italy – 2009 – Reggio Emilia
- Belgium - 2013 – Leuven
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Iliana’s repertoire of dances that she has taught to folk dancers in the USA, Europe, and Asia includes:
Abdai, Alunelu, Arnaut, Batuta and Kalush, Belyanskata, Birindzhika, Buchimish, Cheleuna, Chereshko, Cherkezkata, Chetvorno, Chokarlana, Chukni tropni, Danke, Daylyan Vangel, Denyovata, Dobrudzhanska rachenitsa, Drama, Dunavsko horo, Dvoino horo, Dzhanguritsa, Elbasan, Eski, Glavinishka kopanitsa, Grancharsko horo,
Grancharsko ot Sumer, Hairedinski abdai, Hora ot Draginovo, Hora ot Gela, Hora ot Sofronievo, Horo from Opan, Iglika, Izhvarli condak, Izruchana, Kaimya, Kalcho Ivanovata, Kalmankinata, Kamen Yano, Katarinkina, Kitchitse buina loboda, Kokoneshta, Kokorevsko horo, Kopachka, Lamba, Lazaritsa, Lekom igra, Lipensko paidushko, Lomska rachenitsa, Lyasa, Lyavo horo, Malishevsko, Mari Kalino, Marinkinata, Miziisko horo, More moma bega, Ne predi Rade, Oi Mario, Paidushko from Smyadovo, Paidushko ot Hairedin, Pal Andreevata, Petrunino, Prala Nachka, Pravo trakiisko horo, Prela baba, Provikna se Yana, Radi le, Raka, Rhodopski motivi, Ruka, Rusa, Sachovata, Sedi Donka, Sedi moma, Selsko shopsko, Sevdino oro, Shareno horo, Shirah, Shopska rachenitsa, Shopsko na poyas, Shto me dade male, Shumadia, Signa, Signa, Sin i byal zyumbyul, Sitna stareshka, Sitnata, Slivovanska balavanka, Spanato horo, Sreshtnatata, Stapil Dobri, Sumerska rachenitsa, Svornato horo, Tarambeevata, Tornala mi e Enitsa, Trakiiska rachenitsa, Trei pazashte, Trite pati from Branitsa, Tropanka, Tsonino, Turlashko horo, Tushkano horo, Varnensko horo, Trite pati ot Seliminovo, Velikdensko horo, Vetrensko horo, Ya barzai gemiiko, Yanche belo Yanche, Yove, Zaeshkata, Zhuvyatele and many new dances from the last collections.
The latest dance collections, Iliana has produced and presented with her colleague Todor Yankov. These are:
- IHB # 12 - FIRE ( 2008 )
- IBTY # 13 - MAGIC ( 2010 )
- IBTY # 14 – DESTINY ( 2013 )
- IBTY # 15 – SHARENIA ( 2014 )
- IBTY # 16 – CHEERS ! ( 2016 )