THE BALLET OF THE SOFIA OPERA – TRADITION AND MODERNITY IN PERFECTION
The first ballet troupe in Bulgaria is about 90 years old. That many years have passed since the first ballet performance in Bulgaria, which is also considered the beginning of the ballet of the Sofia Opera. For less than a century, the artists dedicated to this art in Bulgaria have recorded achievements that only the greatest in the dance can boast of. In addition to contemporary repertoire, the troupe maintains a respectable portfolio of nearly 30 classic titles, considered to be the most difficult in both financial and creative terms. Among them are “The Nutcracker”, “Swan Lake”, “Giselle”, “Don Quixote”, “La Bayadère”, “Coppélia”, “The Sleeping Beauty”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “La dame aux camélias”, “Scheherazade” “Zorba the Greek”, “Carmen”, “Rhapsody in Blue”, “La Sylphide”, “Cinderella” and others. By this indicator the ballet from Sofia can be compared to leading theatres such as Bolshoi, Mariinski, Grand Opera, Covent Garden.
Graduates of the Bulgarian school today are in leading positions in the world’s greatest troupes. Praise for the accomplishments of Bulgarian ballet dancers come from all over the globe. The troupe constantly cooperates with leading foreign choreographers and producers. Names such as Yuri Grigorovich, his student Sergei Bobrov, Diana White, Kipling Houston, Irene Schneider, Sonia Alonso, Pavel Stalinskiy, Kathryn Posin, Catherine Bennett, who have worked with the most famous artists, compare Bulgarian primaries and premier soloists with the greatest, universally recognized names in dance.
In the repertoire of the troupe there are ballets with foreign producers such as “Antigone”, “Electra” – Sergei Bobrov, many titles by George Balanchine, “Scheherazade”, “Stepping Stones” – Kathryn Posin, “The Concert” – Jerome Robbins, “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated” – William Forsythe, “Zorba the Greek” – Lorca Massine, “La dame aux camélias” – Irene Schneider and others.
The troupe enjoyed overcrowded halls not only in Bulgaria, but also on stages in the UK, Qatar, Germany, Greece, Turkey, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Belgium. It should not be forgotten that Bulgaria can boast of the world’s first International Ballet Competition – in Varna, which in 2014 marked 50 years from its first edition.
The Ballet of the Sofia Opera maintains a high level and keeps up the “price” of ballet art, despite the many difficulties it faces constantly. “Our distinction is what everyone who knows us notes – besides good ballet technique, our company has a very strong emotional charge. It gives meaning to the performances as such and gives us the right to proudly call ourselves ballet-artists,” remarks Sara-Nora Krysteva, prima ballerina and artistic director of the ballet at our first opera theatre.
In the last years, the troupe is in a visible upsurge, which makes more and more artists from countries with traditions in this art to be interested in the ballet of the Sofia Opera. Critics, in our country and in many other countries, do not save their superlatives for our productions and artists. Our ballet enjoys hot reception and full halls of the youngest spectators, along with people in active age, as well as those who have been following this art for decades. The sight on the stage ignites many children’s imagination with the dream that one day from spectators they turn into ballet artists.
The followers of traditions created by names such as Anastas Petrov, Bogdan Kovachev, Vera Kirova, Krasimira Koldamova, Asen Gavrilov, Bisser Deyanov, Yassen Vulchanov and Masha Ilieva do not stop searching and offering the best of their audience. Our first ballerinas and ballet dancers offer at least 2 premieres per year – from the classical and contemporary repertoire, not forgetting the Bulgarian classics.
From the 2014/2015 season, the Ballet of the Sofia Opera belongs to the family of the international troupes with its newcomers from Japan, Great Britain, Italy, France, Sweden, Moldova and Albania.
Under the direction of Sara-Nora Krysteva, the ballet was awarded the Golden Feather Award for the contribution, development and popularization of Bulgarian culture, the Sofia Award and the Golden Lyre Award for great achievements in the field of culture.