ARABESQUE BALLET was founded in 1967. It has now become the most authoritative and prestigious Bulgarian ballet company for modern productions based on unconventional tendencies in modern dancing. The ballet company consists of 16 dancers — 10 women and 6 men. Choreographer Boryana Sechanova has been the director of Arabesque Ballet since 2000.
ARABESQUE has had more than 100 productions. The open stage allows choreographers from all over the world to realize their productions, which contributes to stylistic diversity and a great variety of modern dance techniques. The ballet company has participated in festivals in Bulgaria, such as Apolonia, Varna Summer, Sofiaa Music Weeks, the European month of culture in Plovdiv, as well as in co-productions with the Bulgarian National Television. It has also participated in festivals abroad – Dance and Beyond in Detroit, The Danube Cities Festival in Austria, The Ecofest International Theatrical University, the Bregenz Opera Festival in Austria (from 1987 to 1992), Women Artists on Two Seas under UNESCO in Thessalonica, The Euro Dance Festival in 1998 in Iasi, Romania, The Dimitria Festival in Thessalonica, Monmartre in Paris in France in 2002, The Ballet Festival in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2002, Europalia-2000 in Brussels, Belgium.
In 2001 the Arabesque Ballet took part in the super production of Aida on the Schalke Stadium in Gelzenkirchen, Germany, and on Stade de France in Paris, France. The Arabesque Ballet holds an annual choreographer competition, called In Memoriam: Margarita Arnaudova. Margarita Arnaudova was the ballet director and choreographer for many years.
Arabesque has had tours in Austria, Germany, Greece, Zimbabwe, India, Indonesia, Italy, Cyprus, Poland, Russia, the United States, Singapore, Turkey, Hungary, the Philippines, Finland, France, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Romania, Spain, Belgium. Arabesque was first created as an experimental ballet studio. The initiators for its creation were some of the most prominent soloists of the National Opera of Sofia: Krasimira Koldamova, Ichko Lazarov, Ivan Maydachevski, Emilia Kirova, Anastas Samev, Margarita Trayanova, Emilia Dragostinova. All of them, along with Vera Kirova, Peter Parisov and Ivan Trifonov, were also Arabesque’s first performers and the creators of the young company’s identity. Lyubomir Goranov and Penka Encheva were the first directors of Arabesque. With their administrative support, the troupe has had productions staged by visiting choreographers mainly, such as A. Alonso, F. Andre, I. Nemechek, R. Manou, H. Correlli, and many others. The first Bulgarian choreographer to work with the newly founded company was Margarita Arnaudova (1941-1994). She was also its director for many years. For a period of twenty years she managed to turn the experimental studio into the best contemporary Bulgarian theatre company with an impressive repertoire. She continued the tradition of inviting choreographers to stage performances of the ballet company. Among them were A. Leclerk, C. Djevietski, D. Bryantsev, Luc Boui, and most of the Bulgarian choreographers – P. Lukanov, A. Gavrilov, K. Bogoeva, M. Shopova, A. Yaneva, B. Sechanova and Mila Iskrenova. Margarita Arnaudova staged many dance productions, some of which are quite unique in character, like Fire-Dancer, Midsummer Night, The Barrier, Bolero, Spring Mystery, A Root Deep in the Sky, etc. Almost all of her shows were created together with artist Maria Trendafilova. Margarita’s artistic ideas incorporated in her shows have played a significant role in the formation of several generations of ballet dancers.
The new generation of soloists – Rozina Kamburova, Rumyana Markova, Valentina Hadzhiyska, Tatyana Marinova, Radostina Naydenova, Antonia Dokeva, Yuriy Zubarev, Georgi Mihov, Vladimir Ginkulov, Radomir Nachev – is characterized by a professional classic training, good actor training and thorough knowledge of contemporary dance techniques. A number of prominent dancers from the National Opera continue to participate in the Arabesque performances. Some of them are Biser Deyanov, Boyko Nedelchev, Rumen Rashev, Yasen Vulchanov. A testimony of the multiple artistic abilities of Arabesque dancers is the fact that many of them have later distinguished themselves in the fields of choreography and ballet pedagogy. Anton Uzunov, Petar Parisov, Anastas Samev, Lili Beron, Elisaveta Marinova have become teachers and tutors. Anton Uzunov was a teacher and tutor of the company for many years. Antonia Dokeva, now a choreographer, has continued the tradition of creating Bulgarian folklore-based shows, like Blagovets, German and Enya. The prima ballerina Rumyana Markova was a choreographer and director of the company in 1999 and 2000.
Between 1995 and 1998 the ballet director was Assistant Professor Kalina Bogoeva, first dancer of the National Opera of Sofia, a leading figure in the field of ballet teaching and an internationally recognized authority on dancing. She is the initiator and founder of the Arabesque Competition for young choreographers in memory of Margarita Arnaudova. Choreographer Boryana Sechanova has been the director of Arabesque since 2000. The programme she has developed aims at the establishment of Arabesque as a dance lab where traditions and vanguardism provoke each other, as a theatre that provides the opportunity for perfection of new dance techniques and for realization of talented Bulgarian and foreign choreographers, dancers, scenographers and directors. Her shows (Wedding, The Birds, Deep Blue, Wild Wine, 3/4 Moon) are distinguished by their original style of dancing that reveals her talent and professionalism. As the actual and spiritual heir of Margarita Arnaudova, Olesya Pantikina, who started out as a dancer in the company in 1986, is still inextricably bound with the fate of Arabesque. She made possible the staging of Margarita Arnaudova’s unfinished production, called The Dog’s Hour. With her remake of the emblematic Fire-Dancer (music by M. Goleminov, choreography by M. Arnaudova) and with the productions of The Bathroom, On the Track of… and 3/4 Moon, the young choreographer has given her personal contribution to the present company.
The already recognized choreographer Mila Iskrenova has an honorary place in B. Sechanova’s team. Her participation in Margarita Gradechlieva’s EK Studio and the knowledge she has acquired during her studies of modern dance techniques at the Palucca Schule in Dresden and the Dance Academy in Cologne, and of modern choreography and improvisation at Laban Dance Centre in London distinguish her as a highly qualified specialist in modern dance. She has created Lynch, Cool Ashes, Threshold and 3/4 Moon especially for Arabesque. This has had a significant impact on the perfection of the company’s professional style.
The energetic creative and administration team also works for the realization of new ideas and the establishment of the Arabesque Company in Bulgarian culture. Its members are Maya Mihaylova (Deputy Director and Manager), Tsvetanka Petkova-Stoynova (Designer) and Tanya Kostadinova (Financial Administrator). The numerous friends and partners of Arabesque work in different fields – there are the choreographers Margarita Gradechlieva, Galina Borisova, Rosen Mihaylov and Zhivko Zhelyazkov, the stage designers Ivan Tokadzhiev and Vasil Dokev, the musicians Georgi Arnaudov and Rumen Toskov, the critics Margarita Mihaylova, Anelia Yaneva, Vesela Grueva, as well as many others.