In March 2002 an idea was born to create a dance troupe made up of female rhythmic gymnasts and male folk dancers. While the dance troupe was being formed, composer Georgi Andreev, music director of the Philip Kutev National Folklore Ensemble, was asked to write an original score. The music was written for a big symphony orchestra and traditional Bulgarian folklore instruments – kaval, gaida, gadulka and others. Thus Orpheus and Eurydice was born. Its premiere was in Varna and it was performed in Sofia six months later. In 2003, Ivaylo Ivanov, chief choreographer of the Philip Kutev National Folklore Ensemble, was invited to change the male actors’ choreography. The story line was re-worked and in its final version it was called The Legend, or A Bulgarian Legend. The conductor and composer was Georgi Andreev.
Lili Ignatova’s Bulgarian Dream Dancers performed on stage for the first time with a symphony orchestra on December 8, 2003 at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia live to an audience of 4,000 and to a television audience of millions. The performance was attended by the Prime Minister, the Parliament Speaker, Cabinet Ministers and the entire diplomatic corps. For the first time in Bulgarian cultural history, the National Opera Symphony Orchestra, together with players of traditional instruments of the Philip Kutev National Ensemble, the women’s choir of the Philip Kutev National Ensemble, men’s choir from the Mixed Choir of the Bulgarian National Radio and the entire dance troupe raised the ethnic sound to the level of great classical art. On November 1st, 2004 the group was invited at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
The story is based on the ancient myth of the love between a young man and a nymph. It is a well-known Balkan legend. According to it, when the nymph (Eurydice) fell in love with a common mortal, she lost her mystic powers and turned into an ordinary maiden. Orpheus knew he should be able to subdue the nymph by taking away something that embodied her power, like a belt, a necklace or a braid. Having fallen in love, she was detested by her sisters of kin, who turned into snakes and killed her. Thus she found herself in the Kingdom of shadows (the Underworld). Orpheus’s grief was inconsolable. His friends tried to cheer him up but to no avail. His soul was full of desire for revenge, however in the decisive battle the nymphs succeeded in taking his life. When he rose up to the stars, he finally found his beloved one and their celestial dance continued into eternity.
Aim and Idea of the Performance
The dance performance is unique, since it is a combination of genuine Bulgarian folk dances and lighter and subtler form of rhythmic gymnastics, with twelve well-trained male dancers and twelve selected female gymnasts. One can see on the stage all the apparatuses typical for rhythmic gymnastics (ropes, hoops, balls, clubs, ribbons), which in the hands of the dancers turn into instruments of vivid expression. These dancers have unique plasticity. For the first time such apparatuses are used on stage – they are not just sports devices but also carry out certain symbolism. Thus, for instance, the ribbons turn into snakes, the ball is ‘the Moon, which the lad gives to his beloved one to play with’, and the clubs are the nymphs’ spears. The ultimate idea is achieved with the help of the unique steps of the Bulgarian folk dancers.
“Bulgarian Dancers” at the Royal Albert Hall – mixture of Olympic Gymnastic with the unusual and the finest sounds of the Balkans. Outstanding performance. Must see!”
Riz Lateef, BBC London
Bulgarian Dancers with Rhythmic Gymnastics Medalists from the Athens Olympics Arrive at the Coliseum.
An Olympic sport transformed into art. The rhythmic gymnastics skills of the Bulgarian Dancers female performers, especially with ribbons and balls, have been acknowledged at the Olympic Games in Athens. But their sports mastery has opened up another stage for them, the stage of dancing, where they perform as successfully. The group has been presenting The Legend for almost 2 years all over the world and has become a synonym of performance.
Rhythmic gymnastics fans must see the Bulgarian national team on stage, to understand why no words are needed in the Bulgarian Dream Dancers show. Dance is the only language in the performance. The twelve female dancers are accompanied by the same number of males, selected from the Philip Koutev National Folklore Ensemble. Its musical director Georgi Andreev has also joined the project as composer of the music.
The music, along with the choreography, brings the audience closer to Orpheus and Eurydice once again.
Cultura, La Coruna
Triumph of The Legend in Palencia.
A performance of music and dance presents the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. According to the ancient legend, no one could resist the magic of Orpheus’s music, not even the beautiful Eurydice. But the envy of the gods crushed the roots of the true love between Orpheus and Eurydice and she was taken away from him. The two were separated, but now the ending of the sad legend is told in a different manner by the Bulgarian Dream Dancers.
The choreography of The Legend enchants the audience. Transfixed by the music, the spectator is carried on the wings of imagination from Greece to the Orient, passing by Eastern Europe, which has always contained Mediterranean features. The expressive body movements are capable to convey the story without words. The dance conveys the passion of enamored Orpheus and Eurydice, the despair brought by the obstacles to their passion, the depth of their pain, the intolerance, Orpheus’s doubt, and, finally, the joy of the triumph over death and of the two lovers’ reunion.
The Legend makes the audience experience the vast range of sentiments that the unique dance and the story itself awaken. It is rare to witness such an explosion of applause at the end of a performance.
Diario Paletino, Palencia
“Orpheus and Eurydice provoked contemplation in more than 4,000 people in the National Palace of Culture. Last night 4,000 people left the Palace of Culture dazzled after the first night of the Orpheus and Eurydice performance. The performance, sent the audience into the world of daydreaming. The fairy scenes of light, music and gracious movements, flooding from the stage, made people hold their breath so as not to disturb the harmony. Orpheus and Eurydice sounds like a prayer for love, this is a performance that makes you feel involved, the observers said.
Eleven female rhythmic gymnasts and twelve male folk dancers conveyed without words the ancient legend about the love of Orpheus and Eurydice. Their only language was that of body movements and dance.
The beauty of the show is in its visual aspects. Fairy scenery created by Ivan Tokadzhiev shifts the action from the thick forests of the Rhodope Mountain to the kingdom of the sombre Hades, inhabited by the shadows of those who have parted from this world. The scenography, however, is not the only good thing about this performance.
The most striking virtue of Orpheus and Eurydice is its genuine choreography. Every motion of the performers is full of grace and conveys the message of the ancient myth.
The individual dances of the girls are in fact sequences performed with apparatuses. Thus the ribbons of rhythmic gymnastics become the snakes that bite Eurydice, and their clubs become the batons of the bacchanalia nymphs, who tear Orpheus apart. “
The Kultura Newspaper, Sofia
“The performance shows a master’s touch. Ivan Tokadzhiev’s scenography is impressive, without being too ornate. Svila Velichkova’s costumes are refined and effective.
The legend about the love of Orpheus and Eurydice is told in thirteen dances.
Georgi Andreev’s music is very impressive.
As far as choreography is concerned, it is done with extraordinary skill. The hand of a master interweaves folk dances and rhythmic gymnastics with all its apparatuses – ribbons, hoops, balls and clubs. The merger between the two is not irritating – it is not an end in itself, but is subordinated to the general idea. The choreography is genuine and the space is well utilized.
Some exclusively beautiful scenes are combined with ultraviolet lighting effects. Generally speaking, the lighting effects are very elaborate, which has not been done to such a level till now for a dance performance in Bulgaria. One gets the general feeling of watching a super production.”
The Sega Daily, Sofia
Dancers and Gymnasts Enact the Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice at the Coliseum.
Gymnastics, hoops and ribbons combined with ethnic rhythms and folklore in The Legend. Twelve rhythmic gymnasts and thirteen dancers participate in this show and re-enact the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice.
The audience can enjoy gymnastics and dances with hoops, ribbons and balls.
The ethnic rhythms and various folklore elements are performed by the company of the Bulgarian composer Georgi Andreev and recorded by the Symphony Orchestra and the Philip Kutev National Folklore Ensemble.
The twelve rhythmic gymnasts who act in the performance are Athens Olympics medalists.
They present the fantastic choreography and music in an amazing way.
Cultura, La Coruna
THE BULGARIAN LEGEND
ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE: Georgi Andreev
CHOREOGRAPHY: Ivailo Ivanov, Verginia Ilieva
The Song of the Mountains
The Three Times
Thracian dance of young warriors performed by men and depicts combat training
Rodopeya – The Dance of the Cloth
Song of young girl who falls in love for the first time
Dance of the Snake
Sofia district motives
ln the Kingdom of Shadows
Dark picture, built on ancient dervish rhythm of Asia Minor, depicts the Kingdom of Death
Rosni mi Rosni
The morning dew
Graovsko and Sitno Sofia district horo
The young warriors console their comrade, who suffers because of the loss of the woman he loves
А joke between two boys, full of rhythm
The Combat Dance
Combined with Latino rhythms with Bulgarian intonations, where the character is killed
Ako umra il zagina – Mourning march
lnto the space
Magic dance with balls
Rodopean song, in which the heroes are united together forever